Tamil Nadu poet refuses award due to Adani Group link

Sukirtharani, a well-known activist and poet from Tamil Nadu, has turned down an award that recognises women achievers because the event was sponsored mainly by the Adani Group

Sukirtharani declines award, Adani Group
Sukirtharani was also against the Adani group for displacing farmers from their lands while developing the Kattupalli port in the north of Chennai

A Tamil Nadu teacher, activist and poet has turned down an award that recognises women achievers because the event was sponsored mainly by the Adani Group.

Sukirtharani, a government school teacher of the Tamil language in Ranipet district, was chosen along with 12 other women for the Devi Awards. The awards were instituted by a national newspaper, to recognise the distinguished contribution of women in their respective fields of work. Sukirtharani was chosen for her contribution to Dalit literature

The event was held at a Chennai hotel on Wednesday (February 8) and the awards were handed over by former cop Kiran Bedi.

However, since this year’s edition of the Devi Awards was sponsored by the Adani Group, along with two other sponsors, Sukirtharani wrote to the organisers saying that she is not going to accept the award. She told the media that she did not want to participate in the event since it would be antithetical to her principles, her body of writings and her philosophy for which she has stood so far.

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The poet and activist was born in 1973 in a poor Dalit family. Sukirtharani, whose writings were summarily removed from the English honours syllabus by the Delhi University’s Academic Council in August 2021, was against the Adani group because of the allegations of fraud in the Hindenburg Research report.

According to Sukirtharani, she was also against the way in which the group has been involved in developing the Kattupalli port (north of Chennai) as well. The group has taken over farmers’ lands and displaced rural labour. She cited these reasons for not accepting the award.

Sukirtharani has six collections of Tamil poetry and has received several awards like the Pudhumaipithan Memorial Award, the Women Achievers Award, the Avvai Award and the Vibrant Voice of Subalterns Award. Several of her poems, which have been translated in Enlgish, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and German, can be found in college curricula in Tamil Nadu.

Sukirtharani has spoken about her fight against casteism in a interview with the Indian Cultural Forum in September 2021. She said that the moment she set foot outside her house, caste chases her like a dog. Though India has over six lakh villages, in reality, there are two lakh villages. This is because the villages, including her own, are divided into two — the village proper and the Dalit area. Her social activism stems from her desire to unite these two divided sections.

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