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'Against my Principles': Noted Dalit Poet From TN Refuses 'Devi Award' as Event Sponsored by Adani

Tamil Dalit poet Sukirtharani said receiving the award would have been 'antithetical' to her principles, writings and philosophy.
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Delhi: Tamil poet Sukirtharani has declined to accept an award recognising women achievers as the main sponsor of the event was the Adani groupThe Telegraph reported.

The poet, known for her literary work on the caste system and women’s oppressiontold The Telegraph that if she was associated with the programme, it would have been “antithetical to her principleswritings and philosophy.

“As a writer, I found it unacceptable to be associated with a function whose main sponsor was the Adani group as it is antithetical to my principles, my body of writings and my philosophy for which I have stood so far,” she told the newspaper.

Sukirtharani, who is also a social activist and Tamil language teacher at a government school in the Ranipet district of Tamil Naduwas chosen for the Devi Awards by the organiser, The New Indian Express (TNIE) newspaper group for her contributions to Dalit literature. The event, meant to recognise “exceptional women across sectors who display dynamism and innovation in their line of work”, was held in Chennai on Wednesday. The awards were presented by former top cop and Puducherry lieutenant governor Kiran Bedi.

The New Indian Express said in a report on the Devi Awards, “This year’s edition is sponsored by the Adani Group, Vellore Institute of Technology, and Ahujasons.”

The poet thanked TNIE in a Facebook post on February 4 and then renounced the award. “I learned that the main sponsor of the event is Adani only yesterday. I don't feel happy to receive an award from an organisation or at an event that is financially supported by the Adani Group, for the politics I speak about and the ideologies I believe in. So, I refuse to accept the Devi Awards,” Sukirtharani was quoted as saying in the post by The News Minute.

The selection was done by a team of experts. I respect their judgement. I wrote to them in an email thanking them for selecting me, but said I would not be able to accept the award as the main sponsor of the event was the Adani group,” Sukirtharani told The Telegraph.

The poet, who herself comes from an impoverished Dalit backgroundunderlined the allegations of fraud against the conglomerate in the Hindenburg Research report. She further told The Telegraph that “the manner in which the group has been involved in developing the Kattupalli port (north of Chennai), taking over farmers’ lands and displacing rural labour, I do not agree with all these.”

Sukirtharani has so far published six collections of Tamil poetry and received several awards such as the Pudhumaipithan Memorial Award, the Women Achievers Award, the Avvai Award and the Vibrant Voice of Subalterns Award, the newspaper reported.

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