Mahasweta Devi – the gutsy social activist who took on political bigwigs for the dispossessed
Noted writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away on Thursday at the age of 90.
Kolkata: Noted writer and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away on Thursday at the age of 90.
The Jnanpith, Padma Vibhushan and Magsaysay awardee breathed her last at a Kolkata hospital today following prolonged illness.
A writer of eminence, Mahasweta Devi also made a mark for herself as a social activist by raising her voice for the rights of the tribals, especially in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Devi, whose writings brought in focus the marginalised communities of the country and served as the voice of the oppressed, had in her later life helped tribals and the rural dispossessed come together and take up development activities in their own areas.
She had also founded several grassroots level societies for the welfare of tribals.
Her literary works talked about the brutal oppression faced by the underprivileged, especially tribals, due to the prevalent caste system.
Of late, she had been leading the movement in her home state of West Bengal against the state government's industrial policy.
She was staunchly opposed to fertile agricultural land being taken away from farmers by the government in the name of land acquisition and then given to industrial houses at throwaway prices.
She had received support from many intellectuals, artists, writers and theatre people in her movement against such land acquisition, especially in Singur and Nandigram.
Devi was also often labelled as an anti-Communist, especially after she called on the people of Kerala and West Bengal to wipe off the Left.
“I do not think that the Left has lost its relevance. My father and uncle were the party’s fellow travellers. My husband Bijon Bhattacharya was also a communist. But today's communists in West Bengal have distanced themselves from people’s problems. They are not serious about common man’s problems,” she had once said.
“I still remember the day when the CPM came to power in West Bengal. We were all very happy. Later we were shocked to see a party which did not even provide the basic facilities for the people in the 35 years of its rule. I stopped writing in favour of the CPM. I am their biggest critic now. The party is far removed from people’s basic needs. That is why their rule came to an end in Bengal. Do you know, there are so many areas in Bengal which lack a proper road. Most of the areas do not have electricity connection, access to drinking water, hospitals or schools,” the noted author had said while expressing her dismay with the Left.
“I will write against the politics of violence and the leaders who made people kill each other. That is the only thing I know. I have always reacted through my writing. I will continue to do so,” she had stated.