Raising South Asian Voices

Cynthia Dettman:  Author

An amazing journalist – who cares about social justice everywhere!

I met and chatted with the most wonderful woman today!  Kavitha Muralidharan is an outspoken feminist, a bright writer and investigator, and so helpful!  Here’s her recent TED talk about why she is a feminist and why men need not feel threatened by feminism.  (Her talk reminds of the US question- why are so many women in the West still uncomfortable calling themselves feminists?)

Kavitha started out as a young journalist in her last year of college at age 19, helped by a relative in the news industry and by her own native talent.  Now in her early 40s, Kavitha is a seasoned writer and journalist with broad contacts in progressive news circles. She and Perumal Murugan, a well-known Tamil writer, have the same publisher and are friends.  She recently edited a translation of Mr. Murugan’s wonderful, recently published non-fiction book about his village mother, Amma.  Kavitha has unusually strong writing and communication skills in both Tamil and English and has worked as a reporter and editor in both languages in a variety of Indian publications, including the Indian Express, India Today, The Deccan Chronicle, and the Hindu.  She is equally conversant in English and Tamil media and seems to have both survived and managed well in both left and right wing publications.  

In 2015 she became an independent journalist and now writes for The Wire, News Minute, First Post, and for the People’s Archive of Rural India, a left-wing media website designed to inform the public about the many searing issues facing rural people.  She has recently agreed to help translate a collection of Mr Murugan’s short stories, and continues to work on a variety of articles related to social justice for “Dalit” people and women.   

Kavitha says she was raised in a fairly traditional Brahmin family, and attended a college that serves many Brahmin women.  However, she was an intelligent and independent young woman who did not follow the traditional female Brahmin path. Kavitha pursued a career and fell in love with another journalist in her early 20s.  Wisely, she took time to develop that relationship and to persuade her parents to accept this “love marriage”. She is now happily married to a progressive man who is clearly not threatened by Kavitha’s feminism and for example, helps to cook at home!  I look forward to meeting him.  

What a blessing to connect with a kind, intelligent, progressive woman who is willing to offer her precious time to help me write a believable novel set in modern Tamilnadu.  Thank you Kavitha!  

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