Ramachandran Kandaamala‘s is more than, and more devastating than, a journalistic feat, the first of its kind from an adivasi.
It is at once a status report on the blighted lives of the adivasi Kaattunayakas of Chullikkad village in Wayanad and an indictment on the criminal politics and unforgivable social indifference that keep them in their pathetic situation. It is a damning accusation against the mainstream news media which is complicit in this conspiracy of silence or disinformation about them. It is a rising voice of revolt by one from their midst against what they have been subjected to for generations. Kandaamala’s account is more hurting than surprising, because we have always somewhere, in the honest recesses of our hearts, suspected that this is what we, the rest of us, have done to them. And yet we have not lifted a finger to make a difference to their lives. Now when one of them becomes a prosecuting journalist, the rest of us, including and particularly we of the news media, have to hang our heads in shame, if there is any shame left in us. That is the least we can do. When we have reduced the Ooru Mooppan, Chennan, in Kandaamala’s narrative to eat what he has to in order to survive we have forfeited any claim to human dignity ourselves. We, cultural and social parasites, stand guilty before the first inhabitants.
Ramachandran Kandaamala is the first journalist from among the tribes of Kerala.