CPI (M) leader and former vice-president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) Mythily Sivaraman died in Chennai on Sunday. She was 81 and is survived by her husband Karunakaran and daughter Kalpana Karunakaran.
She was not keeping well for the last 10 years and suffering from memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease. A few days ago, she tested positive for COVID-19 and succumbed to the disease.
“It was she who, through her writings, drew people’s attention to the massacre of Dalits in Keezhvenmani in east Thanjavur. She was also instrumental in creating awareness against imperialism and the war in Vietnam,” said K. Chandru, former judge of the Madras High Court and a friend of Ms. Sivaraman for 53 years.
“I still remember the first meeting she addressed at Mangolai in Mylapore against the Vietnam war. We maintained our friendship even after I was expelled from the CPI (M). She attended my swearing-in ceremony as the judge of the Madras High Court,” said Justice Chandru, who dedicated his Tamil book book Order Order to her.
Educated in Syracuse University, Ms. Sivaraman had a promising career in the United Nations.
“She worked in the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation and visited Cuba without a passport. After her return to India, she was looking for a political space and met Gandhian Vinoba Bhave. He asked her to meet Sarvodaya leaders Jagannathan and Krishnammal Jagannathan. She visited Keezhvenmani with Krishnammal,” said writer and historian V. Geetha, who compiled the essays of Ms. Sivaraman, Haunted by Fire: Essays on Caste, Class, Exploitation and Emancipation , along with Kalpana Karunakaran.
Justice Chandru said she became the editor of Radical Review after former Union Minister P. Chidambaram quit the post. “We all joined CPI (M) and in the beginning she worked with the CITU. She was one of the co-founders of the AIDWA,” he said.
Ms. Geetha said Ms. Sivaraman focussed her attention on the issue of casteism and combined it with class struggle.