Echoes of Koodankulam Women


NO – Echoes Koodankulam (Book Review By Veena M.)

The book ‘No echoes Koodankulam’ by Anitha S brings out the concept of life and living from the side of women who nurture children and from the children themselves who are the future’s hope. The book has come out as the result of all the ongoing struggles that had been going on from 1989 onwards in the districts of Thirunelveli and Nagercoil. S.P.Udayakumar who is the leading light of the struggle has done the introduction, and it is enriched with Lalitha Ramdas, Green Peace International Chair Person doing the foreward and Vandana Shiva’ s afterword.

echoesbookcoverThe full book which has 125 pages, is brought out with direct and indirect interviews done by Anitha, over the last two years 2011-12, and during her visits to the place, to stay with the women to share comfort and solidarity.

Politicians and authorities anywhere in the world have a particular way of looking down at village or sub-urban people, who are the victims of large-scale development processes. They think of these people as illiterate, poor and ignorant of the good consequences of development. They tend to think that because for them these people are not fully aware of all the benefits brought out to them through development, so they stand against it.

But as very often we find this is not the case. Everybody has a core trust that for all sort of benefits out of development, somebody has to pay a price. But the question is will it be me? Or will I be happy if it has to be me? Young ones from seven year old Sahir, to youth like Vivek Sarathy to strong, gentle women like Chellamma, Mary, Xavieramma… anybody who forsee 50 years or 100 years ahead of them in these villages are asking us, who blindly believes that somebody has to pay a price for the development activities that ‘Will it be you?’

Heart-breaking situations of missing their mother, friend, brother in the various stages of struggle, yet young and old taking it all with much understanding and co-operation, brings out the beauty of a still existing and the wonderful integrity of a rural existence of the very ordinary people. To recogniseand realise that the words and sentences that come out of each and every interview in this book are lived upon, one has to spend sometime in these places.

Luckily with Anitha, with Santhi who had done ‘The Way Forward’, and with others I was able to be part of some of the ventures. Mostly they were unbelievable, wise, sincere and insightful events, because you can sit with any of them day or night, talking through and through about the related issues, the care and concern that emanated from each of them were heart-breaking. Whether it be little Shyamili’s concern of sending radiation contaminated fish to elsewhere and contaminating the health of children, or quick-witted Labisha’s picking up a lovely little poisonous fruit and comparing it to beautiful looking power-plant, or the worries of women and men about how they forsee how nasty the place can turn out to be etc flows out from them day and night.

If I hadn’t been part of these ventures and hadn’t heard the people talk, I too would believe, like the politicians that they are illiterate and poor, who can’t understand development, that most of these things were cooked up. Maybe it gives the people who believe in these wrong ended development schemes a false sense of pride, security and trust in what they impose on others. Maybe its sensible to believe it that way, so one can sleep peacefully without much conscience prick.

But when one acknowledges the fact that the people of Koondankulam are the losers not just this generation but forever, then we forsee the harm if something goes wrong,it is not just them but all the living world around them, suffers. Even a child can see beyond the evil realities of reaping benefits out of selling the worst to the whole world around you… that is not an easy way to get out of the real life situations. There lies the answers to why politicians won’t come to see them, why scientists answer deceivingly to their questions regarding safety and other concerns and why authorities take hard stances against them when non-violently they are asking us the basic questions.
And to me there is no question or answer when my whole being melts and bows down before them as they, out of purest love and concern speak soon after the police atrocities that happened on Sept 10, 2012 about how lady police came and were struggling without water and toilet facilities, and that they provided it to the needy. When questioned why they show any concern at all for the police women persecuting them, all the women we spoke too said they are women like us, and we know how difficult it is when such necessities arise, and they needn’t be bad people at all because they are just obeying the orders which are passed on to them.

True Gandhians they are and Gandhiji would be proud of them… but I wish our politicians got one hundredth of the goodness, cares and concerns of these people in them. So as an answer to the callousness of the authorities, politicians and scientists this book is on the counter not for sale but any contributions would be used to create a reading space for kids there, in the village, who love so much to read and write and grow up with the knowledge and culture of the people, who can see, not just today but a hundred years ahead of times.

At the book release function held in Ernakulam, by Majasveta Devi, the ardent writer and social activist said we had reached the point of time were we have to learn to say ‘No’.

Its important that all who harbour some goodness in us should enrich ourselves with the positiveness of the people of Koodankulam, those who are on the borderline should read ‘No echoes Koodankulam’ to assure our trust that the final winner would be goodness and justice. Finally those of who wouldn’t dare trust in good and just should read this to start the trickle of goodness and the spirit of justice which is sleeping in us, but which needs a bit of nourishment. And the voice of kids, youth, men and women who speak to us through this book will do that happily, whole-heartedly. Have a wonderful reading and be the part of hope and struggles for real development and justice.

You can get or order the books directly from Anitha S, 94470 78113 or or from Altermedia, Thrissur 94950 26478.

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