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  • Writer's pictureKrishna

Chat with Tamil writer and activist Salma - Part 1

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Pic Courtesy - The Hindu

When you are moved by someone's writing, you very often feel like wanting to meet that writer. That is exactly what I felt when I read a book a few years ago. And never did I imagine I will get the opportunity to interact with her. And when that writer herself has gone through so much in her life and has set an example of how a New Indian Woman should be, how can we not invite her in our podcast ?

When I reached out to her, I never imagined she will agree, for, she has been interviewed by journalists, people who know the art of interviewing and more. Why should she take out time from her busy schedule for this conversation ? But then, very often, people's humility astounds you! And that is how this conversation happened!

The conversation I am referring to is with the well-known Tamil writer, activist and politician Salma. She has published several poems, articles and 2 novels. Her work has been translated into English and she is the recipient of several awards. She is also a politician, working her way up from being a panchayat leader and later contested in Tamil Nādu Legislative Assembly election. So why is she here in our podcast ? If you get to know her life story, then it would be pretty obvious. Her life story itself is very inspiring, not to speak of her courage in writing about women's issues very openly, inviting the wrath of religious elders. Her life has been documented by a British documentary film maker, which describes the journey of an under educated house wife who was subjected to some kind of house arrest and still became a successful Tamil writer, activist and politician influencing the lives of thousands of young women. Her education was stopped at the age of 13, she was not allowed to go outside, she had to fight to make sure she is not married off at 13 and instead, she chose to secretly read literature from across the world and slowly started writing on her own. To know more about her, please refer to the section below with links to some very good interviews/articles about her.

Salma does manage to converse in English, but the way she speaks in Tamil is so powerful. I wanted to make sure my listeners get the benefit of this, at least the listeners who understand Tamil. I will be publishing a translated version of this interview, for the benefit of everyone else. Another important point I would like to share with you all is that, for the very first time, the conversation here is mainly between Salma and my friend Jeevalatha. I speak Tamil with a strong accent and felt it was important to get someone who speaks Tamil really well. And that’s where my friend Jeevalatha, stepped in. She runs a tailoring shop in Erode, in Tamil Nādu, and had to learn a lot to be comfortable using technology to record this interview. She is a well-read person and her excitement in speaking to Salma, does come through!

In Part 1 of this 2 part series, we start speaking to Salma on being a woman writer and about women, in general. We try to understand where her courage comes from ? The response to this is very interesting. In these days of goal setting and how to articles around these being available at one's finger tips, we go back to a girl living in a small village, confined physically, who chose to dream, to have aspirations, to think and then to act on the same.

We then move on to the position an acclaimed writer who is a man gets in society vs a woman writer and questions around influence of writing on society. We talk about contemporary women, who despite being educated and financially independent, lack in the department of courage and what needs to be done about it.

We talk about education, in the context of it being denied for women, even in this century, especially in rural areas.

We try to understand how her thinking process was to achieve her goals and aspirations and how she seized all the opportunities that came up !

I welcome you to listen to this episode(in Tamil) and share your feedback.

Listen on..

To listen to the loose English translated version I have recorded for you, click below -

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What the New Indian Woman podcast is about

As you may already be aware, this podcast has 2 focus areas. One, We examine the challenges faced by today's Indian woman and propose ACTIONABLE strategies in the Indian context, on a wide variety of topics - right from identifying their passion to better productivity and parenting. Second, we meet women who chose to aspire or have a dream beyond their defined roles and facilitate sharing of what worked and what didn’t, for them. Today's episode falls in the second category.

And in the process, my aim is to help you, The New Indian woman, to realize your potential, chase your dreams and aspirations, utilize the wonderful opportunities available in today's world.

Get in touch

To read or watch more about the guest


Trailer to the documentary - Salma - Official Trailer

Some videos


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