The title of this collection of articles in Tamil — which translates as ‘Figs are red even now' — and the very selection process that has gone into the venture speak to the author's ideology and his commitment to political and social awareness.
The first article is a moving tribute to his father, P. Ramachandran, who was in the Left movement throughout his life and with whom the author shared a deep emotional attachment, which only grew stronger after Ramachandran's death in July 2008.
Eighteen of the 25 pieces are Vijaya Sankar's own writings, and among the rest are translations of articles by Arundati Roy, K. N. Panikkar, and Pablo Neruda. There are articles on South Africa, Cuba, Nepal, the Gulf countries, the United States, and the Latin American countries. Nelson Mandela and Eric Hobsbawm are among the world leaders who figure in this collection.
The journalist in Vijaya Sankar finds admirable expression in his interview with Tamil scholar Karthigesu Sivathamby and in his essay on the economics of news through television and other media. In his assessment, excessive dependence on advertisement and government support for financial sustenance and an anti-Left stance are interlinked in the making of anti-democratic media.
Two studies by the author — ‘The Dravidian Movement Today' and ‘Periyar: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' — are comprehensive and relevant. Particularly, the one on Periyar is striking for its in-depth analysis. Periyar's days in the Congress, to which he was introduced by Rajaji; how he fought caste discrimination in Vaikom, a village in Kerala, and thus came to be known as Vaikom Veerar (the hero of Vaikom); his stint in the Justice Party; his launching of the Self-Respect Movement and the founding of the Dravida Kazhagam — all these have been told truthfully.
After explaining why Periyar kept away from politics and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a breakaway political outfit formed by C.N. Annadurai and others, the author discusses how the DMK has, over the years, compromised on its basic ideology of rationalism (shifting from ‘atheism' to ‘one race and one god') and also abandoned the goal of a separate Dravidian land.
The author's experience in editing and his knowledge of international affairs come across clearly in this publication. Also commendable are his grasp of the Tamil language and expertise in the art of translation.