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Narratives on Lost Terrains A Neocolonialist Reading of Select Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam

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Neocolonialism, a term coined by Kwame Nkrumah, is defined as a covert project of the developed countries to exert their economic, political and cultural domination over the third world countries by making them follow blindly the ideas of development imposed by them and exploiting the land, labor and resources of these countries in a view of generating limitless profit. The paper studies two contemporary novels, Aathi 2011 and Swarga 2017 written by two renowned writer activists, Sarah Joseph and Ambikasuthan Mangadu of Kerala, and posits to underscore the prophetic vision in them that challenges the myopic ideas of development and the relentless ways of exploitation that are the hallmarks of neocolonialism. The paper also analyses the idea of the slow poisoning of nature that has been dexterously incorporated into the narratives, as a direct outcome of neocolonial endeavors. The paper also argues that by taking up the concept of bio imperialism into the ambit of its discourse, the writers have set a wake up call for all the stakeholders to be vigilant in their engagement with neocolonial forces. Dr. Sheethal S. Nair "Narratives on Lost Terrains: A Neocolonialist Reading of Select Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam" Published in International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (ijtsrd), ISSN: 2456-6470, Volume-7 | Issue-4, August 2023, URL: https://www.ijtsrd.com/papers/ijtsrd59830.pdf Paper Url:https://www.ijtsrd.com/humanities-and-the-arts/english/59830/narratives-on-lost-terrains-a-neocolonialist-reading-of-select-contemporary-fictions-in-malayalam/dr-sheethal-s-nair

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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD)
Volume 7 Issue 4, July-August 2023 Available Online: www.ijtsrd.com e-ISSN: 2456 – 6470
@ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 995
Narratives on Lost Terrains: A Neocolonialist
Reading of Select Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam
Dr. Sheethal S. Nair
Assistant Professor, NSS Hindu College, Perunna, Changanassery, Kerala, India
ABSTRACT
Neocolonialism, a term coined by Kwame Nkrumah, is defined as a
covert project of the developed countries to exert their economic,
political and cultural domination over the third- world countries by
making them follow blindly the ideas of development imposed by
them and exploiting the land, labor and resources of these countries
in a view of generating limitless profit. The paper studies two
contemporary novels, Aathi (2011) and Swarga (2017) written by
two renowned writer-activists, Sarah Joseph and Ambikasuthan
Mangadu of Kerala, and posits to underscore the prophetic vision in
them that challenges the myopic ideas of development and the
relentless ways of exploitation that are the hallmarks of
neocolonialism. The paper also analyses the idea of the slow
poisoning of nature that has been dexterously incorporated into the
narratives, as a direct outcome of neocolonial endeavors. The paper
also argues that by taking up the concept of bio-imperialism into the
ambit of its discourse, the writers have set a wake-up call for all the
stakeholders to be vigilant in their engagement with neocolonial
forces.
KEYWORDS: Neocolonialism, Slow-poisoning, Bio-imperialism
How to cite this paper: Dr. Sheethal S.
Nair "Narratives on Lost Terrains: A
Neocolonialist Reading of Select
Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam"
Published in
International
Journal of Trend in
Scientific Research
and Development
(ijtsrd), ISSN:
2456-6470,
Volume-7 | Issue-4,
August 2023, pp.995-998, URL:
www.ijtsrd.com/papers/ijtsrd59830.pdf
Copyright © 2023 by author (s) and
International Journal of Trend in
Scientific Research and Development
Journal. This is an
Open Access article
distributed under the
terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License (CC BY 4.0)
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)
Neocolonialism is a term defined and conceptualized
by Kwame Nkrumah, the renowned anticolonial
leader and former president of Ghana, who used the
term to characterize it as the last stage of imperialism.
He observes that even after independence, the
erstwhile colonized countries of the world are under
the grip of an economic system and political policy
that are directed from ‘outside’. Several of these
policies go counter to the environmental imagination
and sustainable resource management that was the
hallmark of the pre-colonial ages. Nevertheless, many
of the dogmas of development that India, a
postcolonial nation borrowed from the West see
nature as a commodity to be manipulated, exploited
and used for material gains. The state and the people
with monetary power become agents of mass
destruction of landscapes and displace both humans
and the animals of the region, upsetting the delicate
balance of nature.
This paper studies two novels by two of the renowned
contemporary writers in Malayalam, Sarah Joseph
and Ambikasuthan Mangadu to exemplify and
substantiate the devastating effects of our myopic
idea of development. The first novel taken for study is
the English translation of Aathi, titled Gift in Green
(2011) by Sarah Joseph, which tells the saga of a
bunch of people who were displaced from their
pristine land in the name of development. The second
novel is a translation of the critically acclaimed novel
Enmakaje by Ambikasuthan Mangadu which is titled
Swarga (2017) and narrates the physical and
psychological deterioration that affects the people of
a village owing to the poisoning of their land by lethal
chemical, endosulphan in the nearby cashew
plantations.
The Flipside of Development
Globalisation has triggered the process of
neocolonisation by paving the way for the
establishment of several multinational corporations,
which chiefly operate in the third world countries
where labour and resource costs are relatively low.
These corporations often form a nexus with the
corrupt officials and bureaucrats thus accentuating the
process of exploitation of the local people and the
indigenous landscapes. Gadgil and Guha in their book
Ecology and Equity, explain how the ‘intensification
IJTSRD59830
International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470
@ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 996
of resource use’ in independent India was taken up by
the bureaucratic apparatus who were the direct
followers of the British policies.
In the novel Gift in Green, at the onset, the villagers
of Aathi are leading a life of content with the rice
from their pokkali (flood-resistant paddy) fields and
the fishes from the water bodies that encircled their
land. They had a peaceful community life with story-
telling rituals, and a strong spiritual anchoring in
nature. The same element of harmony is present in the
lives of the people in Swarga, which means heaven.
The people mostly depended on the forests for food
and fodder and were engaged in activities of fishing
and collecting honey. A sense of shared existence
with nature and with the creatures of the land makes
the characters of both the novels similar. In Gift in
Green, Kumaran acts as the human agency that plants
the seeds of exaggerated notions of development into
the minds of the innocent villagers. He buys vast
tracts of fields, often by tricking the villagers to
exchange their deeds with very little money. He sells
the land to huge land mafia who try to connect Aathi
to the mainland through a bridge and converts the
village into a landfill where the waste from the city
begins to pile up. Consequently, a land covered with
pure water bodies gets converted into a sewage dump
with toxic wastes spreading into the habitations of
poor people denying them access to clean water and
food. The ruin of Aathi thus starts with a skewed
notion of development inscribed into the minds of the
villagers which is often part of the strategic process of
land acquisition by neocolonial agencies. Vandana
Shiva voices her concern over this alleged form of
development that has taken shape in the specific
context of capitalist expansion
Development was to have been a post-colonial
project, a choice for accepting a model of progress in
which the entire world remade itself on the model of
the colonizing modern West, without having to
undergo the subjugation and exploitation that
colonialism entailed. The assumption was that
Western-style progress was possible for all.
Development, as the improved well-being of all, was
thus equated with the Westernization of economic
categories—of needs, of productivity, of growth. (Key
Concepts: Ecology 273)
The ruthless atrocity perpetrated by a state agency in
the name of alleviating pests and maximising the
profit from cashew plantations resulted in an
unprecedented tragedy, which is articulated in
Ambikasuthan Mangadus’s Swarga. The story
revolves around a couple who wanted to live alone in
the woods. But when they are destined to find the
cause of the mysterious disease of an orphan child,
they are drawn into the vortex of a tumultuous
tragedy that had affected the local community and is
forced to find a way out. The cause of the disease of
their foster child was similar to hundreds of diseased
kids with both congenital deformations and elders
with detrimental health conditions. The cause was
attributed to the presence of a concoction of
pesticides sprayed around their places in helicopters
to protect acres of cashew plantations. No research
was done before the application of this poison, as the
local people were mostly tribals and other socially
disadvantaged people.
Slow Violence and the Plight of the Dispossessed
In both Aathi and Swarga, two places that were out of
the mainstream society, the violence inflicted by the
agents of development was so slow in the beginning
that it was seldom noticed by the world outside. Even
when noticed, the response was delayed and justice
was often denied. Rob Nixon in his book, Slow
Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
identifies and defines a new kind of violence that
forms the hallmark of neo-colonial legatees: “By slow
violence, I mean a violence that occurs gradually and
out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is
dispersed across time and space, an attritional
violence that is typically not viewed as violence at
all” (4).
In her novel Gift in Green, Sarah Joseph presents us
with the fate of the people before the urbanisation
takes over and afterwards. In the beginning we see
through the lives of these characters, the sustainable
ways of agriculture that formed the basis of Indian
culture over centuries. Slow poisoning of their fields
and waters with chemicals and fertilizers, was
unacceptable for the people of Aathi. The people of
Aathi engaged in a ceremony called Kappukalakku, in
which they harvested the prawns and fish from the
fields before preparing them for paddy cultivation.
When Komban Joy, an incarnation of unbridled greed
posits the idea of mixing poison into the water to
bring out the fish easily, the female protagonist
Kunjimathu vehemently opposes the move. She says,
“There is a way of making prawn farms that has come
down to us from our elders over the ages. The new
way that involves spraying pesticides, mixing
quicklime, spreading various potions is unacceptable
to us.” (177). Their lack of education did not come in
the way of realising was best for their land.
Similarly, the novel Swarga is a partially fictionalized
representation of the environmental disaster caused
by the misuse of endosulfan pesticide in Kasargod
district of Kerala in India. The novel explores the
environmental and public health consequences of
pesticide misuse. It also concentrates on those health-
International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470
@ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 997
related effects of endosulfan misuse, that persist even
to the present day. The author has made a great effort
in portraying the plight of the victims. Endosulfan
was introduced to Indian agriculture after the Green
Revolution of the 1960’s to increase the food
production. When the couple in Swarga gets actively
involved in finding the root of the misery,
Neelakandan is dumbstruck by the sheer number of
diseases and abnormalities suffered by the people,
who believe that the adversity that struck them is
because of the fury of Lord Jadadhari who their
ancestors had insulted and defeated through black
magic. He even realizes that bees do not thrive there
anymore, adding to the misery of the people who
sustained on bee cultivation and the sale of honey.
The people of the area were so naïve that they could
not understand even the cause of their plight.
Once they realise that it is the aerial spraying of
endosulphan that has brought the mishap and not any
divine curse, they crusade against the companies and
authorities that are wiping out an entire ecosystem
with their myopic pest-controlling measures. In a
gathering of the local people, their concern about this
local poisoning is voiced in the following words:
Remember the US bombing of Vietnam … The
terrible poison used there was called Agent Orange…
Roundup is its new name… There were reports of
grotesque-looking children born in Vietnam too.
What happened in Enmakaje is not too different…
Here too they dropped a big bomb. Not at one go,
slowly, gradually… It was not an enemy country that
bombed us. Our own government, who are elected by
us, dropped the bombs, in turns. What a cruel joke!”
(176).
The novel is successful in bringing a regional issue to
a global level by giving an audible voice to the silent
sufferings of the people. The sacredness associated
with the land is expressed through the tribal old man,
Panchi, who becomes the mouthpiece of Mangad. He
narrates the spirituality associated with the land of
Enmakaje through the images of sacred groves,
Jadadhari hill, Basava cows, holy snakes, Sakkijal
(the steps of truth) and Kondangiri canal (the stream
compared to the holy Ganges). The fertility and
biodiversity of the land ensure the well-being of the
self-sustaining community
Bio-imperialism as a War against Nature
Bio-imperialism is the term designated to one of the
recent and most sinister forms of neo-colonization,
which has taken the entire globe in its grip. The
global corporate giants who are constantly waging
war against the poor and the dispossessed have now
entered into their wombs and arteries to claim a
space. This war is being carried out through the
process of innovations in biotechnology, genetic
engineering and the patenting of indigenous seeds. As
Vandana Shiva rightly points out:
Every vital, living resource of the planet that
maintains the fragile web of life is in the process of
being privatised, commodified and appropriated by
corporations. Every inch of land that supports the life
and livelihoods of tribal and peasant communities is
being grabbed, leading to land wars. Every drop of
water that flows in our rivers is being appropriated
leading to water wars.” (Making Peace with the Earth
4)
In Gift in Green, Sarah Joseph hints at the importance
of the pokkali rice seed in the ecosystem of Aathi. As
the place was filled with saline water and was
frequently fraught with floods, the people needed a
variety of paddy that was both salt-resistant and flood
resistant. The long stalks of the pokkali were ideal for
both and the ancestors of the people in Aathi had this
knowledge and brought it to the land. Gift in Green
discusses how the indigenous varieties of seeds are
important by their trait of being location-specific and
easily reproducible. The author, by pinpointing the
importance of such local knowledge is also hinting at
the resourcefulness of our traditional wisdom. Most
of the local varieties of crops are able to withstand the
local climatic changes. They are less dependent on
pesticides, fertilizers and even water. The self-
sufficiency of people who depend not only on the rice
but on the fishes of the region, held by the mangrove
forests also point to a life-style that is totally in tune
with nature. The life-supporting vision of the people
of Aathi is common to the people of Swarga too. In
fact, many of the indigenous communities of the
world over are living a life of harmony, until the
exploitative tentacles of the outside world crush them
and displace them. The ‘scientific’ systems of the day
splits agriculture from forestry by assigning lands for
the cultivation of single varieties of crops on a large
scale and undermining the scope of cultivating
multiple crops thereby enhancing biodiversity. Such
monocrops as we see in Swarga, are actively grown to
obtain maximum profit by spraying pesticides and
fertilizers often oblivious to the fact that they upset
the delicate balance of nature.
Vandana Siva argues that the Green Revolution
which brought a surplus of wheat and rice production
in India has marginalised several useful varieties of
nutritious crops like ragi and jowar. She considers
this move as a “biased agricultural science based on
capitalist patriarchy” (Monocultures of Mind 24) that
would consider highly nutritious crops as inferior.
She says that ‘The diverse forest and ecosystems are
reduced to ‘preferred’ species by selective
International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470
@ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 998
annihilation of species diversity which is not ‘useful’
from the market perspective. Moreover, the
monocultures of rice and wheat invite pests on a large
scale. The fertilizer-intensive cultivation proposed by
the Green Revolution further reduces the quality of
the soil and increases the necessity of water for
irrigation.
It is often the prime duty of writers to sensitize
society on the issues of gross negligence that affect
the lives of the poor people and the environment. Two
of the contemporary writer-activists of Kerala, Sarah
Joseph and Ambikasuthan Mangadu have interfered
actively in the debates on development, land
appropriation, environmental degradation through the
medium of writing.
Works Cited
[1] Crosby, Alfred. W. Ecological Imperialism:
The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900.
Cambridge UP, 1986.
[2] Gadgil, Madhav and Ramachandra Guha,
Ecology and Equity: The Use and Abuse of
Nature in Contemporary India. Routledge,
1995.
[3] Joseph, Sarah. Gift in Green. Trans. Valson
Thampu. Oxford UP, 2011.
[4] Mangadu, Ambikasutan. Swarga: A Posthuman
Tale. Translated by J Devika, Juggernaut, 2017.
[5] Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the
Environmentalism of the Poor. Harvard
University Press, 2011.
[6] Nkrumah, K. Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage
of Imperialism. London: Thomas Nelson &
Sons. Online:
http://www.marxists.org/africa/nkrumah/neocol
onialism/intro [20.06.23]
[7] Shiva, Vandana. “Development, Ecology, and
Women.” Key Concepts in Literary Theory:
Ecology. Ed. Carolyn Merchant. Humanities
Press International, Inc., 1994. 272-280.
[8] ---. Making Peace with the Earth. Pluto Press,
2013.
[9] ---. Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on
Biodiversity and Biotechnology. Natraj
Publishers, 2012.

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Narratives on Lost Terrains A Neocolonialist Reading of Select Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam

  • 1. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) Volume 7 Issue 4, July-August 2023 Available Online: www.ijtsrd.com e-ISSN: 2456 – 6470 @ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 995 Narratives on Lost Terrains: A Neocolonialist Reading of Select Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam Dr. Sheethal S. Nair Assistant Professor, NSS Hindu College, Perunna, Changanassery, Kerala, India ABSTRACT Neocolonialism, a term coined by Kwame Nkrumah, is defined as a covert project of the developed countries to exert their economic, political and cultural domination over the third- world countries by making them follow blindly the ideas of development imposed by them and exploiting the land, labor and resources of these countries in a view of generating limitless profit. The paper studies two contemporary novels, Aathi (2011) and Swarga (2017) written by two renowned writer-activists, Sarah Joseph and Ambikasuthan Mangadu of Kerala, and posits to underscore the prophetic vision in them that challenges the myopic ideas of development and the relentless ways of exploitation that are the hallmarks of neocolonialism. The paper also analyses the idea of the slow poisoning of nature that has been dexterously incorporated into the narratives, as a direct outcome of neocolonial endeavors. The paper also argues that by taking up the concept of bio-imperialism into the ambit of its discourse, the writers have set a wake-up call for all the stakeholders to be vigilant in their engagement with neocolonial forces. KEYWORDS: Neocolonialism, Slow-poisoning, Bio-imperialism How to cite this paper: Dr. Sheethal S. Nair "Narratives on Lost Terrains: A Neocolonialist Reading of Select Contemporary Fictions in Malayalam" Published in International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (ijtsrd), ISSN: 2456-6470, Volume-7 | Issue-4, August 2023, pp.995-998, URL: www.ijtsrd.com/papers/ijtsrd59830.pdf Copyright © 2023 by author (s) and International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development Journal. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0) (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0) Neocolonialism is a term defined and conceptualized by Kwame Nkrumah, the renowned anticolonial leader and former president of Ghana, who used the term to characterize it as the last stage of imperialism. He observes that even after independence, the erstwhile colonized countries of the world are under the grip of an economic system and political policy that are directed from ‘outside’. Several of these policies go counter to the environmental imagination and sustainable resource management that was the hallmark of the pre-colonial ages. Nevertheless, many of the dogmas of development that India, a postcolonial nation borrowed from the West see nature as a commodity to be manipulated, exploited and used for material gains. The state and the people with monetary power become agents of mass destruction of landscapes and displace both humans and the animals of the region, upsetting the delicate balance of nature. This paper studies two novels by two of the renowned contemporary writers in Malayalam, Sarah Joseph and Ambikasuthan Mangadu to exemplify and substantiate the devastating effects of our myopic idea of development. The first novel taken for study is the English translation of Aathi, titled Gift in Green (2011) by Sarah Joseph, which tells the saga of a bunch of people who were displaced from their pristine land in the name of development. The second novel is a translation of the critically acclaimed novel Enmakaje by Ambikasuthan Mangadu which is titled Swarga (2017) and narrates the physical and psychological deterioration that affects the people of a village owing to the poisoning of their land by lethal chemical, endosulphan in the nearby cashew plantations. The Flipside of Development Globalisation has triggered the process of neocolonisation by paving the way for the establishment of several multinational corporations, which chiefly operate in the third world countries where labour and resource costs are relatively low. These corporations often form a nexus with the corrupt officials and bureaucrats thus accentuating the process of exploitation of the local people and the indigenous landscapes. Gadgil and Guha in their book Ecology and Equity, explain how the ‘intensification IJTSRD59830
  • 2. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470 @ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 996 of resource use’ in independent India was taken up by the bureaucratic apparatus who were the direct followers of the British policies. In the novel Gift in Green, at the onset, the villagers of Aathi are leading a life of content with the rice from their pokkali (flood-resistant paddy) fields and the fishes from the water bodies that encircled their land. They had a peaceful community life with story- telling rituals, and a strong spiritual anchoring in nature. The same element of harmony is present in the lives of the people in Swarga, which means heaven. The people mostly depended on the forests for food and fodder and were engaged in activities of fishing and collecting honey. A sense of shared existence with nature and with the creatures of the land makes the characters of both the novels similar. In Gift in Green, Kumaran acts as the human agency that plants the seeds of exaggerated notions of development into the minds of the innocent villagers. He buys vast tracts of fields, often by tricking the villagers to exchange their deeds with very little money. He sells the land to huge land mafia who try to connect Aathi to the mainland through a bridge and converts the village into a landfill where the waste from the city begins to pile up. Consequently, a land covered with pure water bodies gets converted into a sewage dump with toxic wastes spreading into the habitations of poor people denying them access to clean water and food. The ruin of Aathi thus starts with a skewed notion of development inscribed into the minds of the villagers which is often part of the strategic process of land acquisition by neocolonial agencies. Vandana Shiva voices her concern over this alleged form of development that has taken shape in the specific context of capitalist expansion Development was to have been a post-colonial project, a choice for accepting a model of progress in which the entire world remade itself on the model of the colonizing modern West, without having to undergo the subjugation and exploitation that colonialism entailed. The assumption was that Western-style progress was possible for all. Development, as the improved well-being of all, was thus equated with the Westernization of economic categories—of needs, of productivity, of growth. (Key Concepts: Ecology 273) The ruthless atrocity perpetrated by a state agency in the name of alleviating pests and maximising the profit from cashew plantations resulted in an unprecedented tragedy, which is articulated in Ambikasuthan Mangadus’s Swarga. The story revolves around a couple who wanted to live alone in the woods. But when they are destined to find the cause of the mysterious disease of an orphan child, they are drawn into the vortex of a tumultuous tragedy that had affected the local community and is forced to find a way out. The cause of the disease of their foster child was similar to hundreds of diseased kids with both congenital deformations and elders with detrimental health conditions. The cause was attributed to the presence of a concoction of pesticides sprayed around their places in helicopters to protect acres of cashew plantations. No research was done before the application of this poison, as the local people were mostly tribals and other socially disadvantaged people. Slow Violence and the Plight of the Dispossessed In both Aathi and Swarga, two places that were out of the mainstream society, the violence inflicted by the agents of development was so slow in the beginning that it was seldom noticed by the world outside. Even when noticed, the response was delayed and justice was often denied. Rob Nixon in his book, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor identifies and defines a new kind of violence that forms the hallmark of neo-colonial legatees: “By slow violence, I mean a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all” (4). In her novel Gift in Green, Sarah Joseph presents us with the fate of the people before the urbanisation takes over and afterwards. In the beginning we see through the lives of these characters, the sustainable ways of agriculture that formed the basis of Indian culture over centuries. Slow poisoning of their fields and waters with chemicals and fertilizers, was unacceptable for the people of Aathi. The people of Aathi engaged in a ceremony called Kappukalakku, in which they harvested the prawns and fish from the fields before preparing them for paddy cultivation. When Komban Joy, an incarnation of unbridled greed posits the idea of mixing poison into the water to bring out the fish easily, the female protagonist Kunjimathu vehemently opposes the move. She says, “There is a way of making prawn farms that has come down to us from our elders over the ages. The new way that involves spraying pesticides, mixing quicklime, spreading various potions is unacceptable to us.” (177). Their lack of education did not come in the way of realising was best for their land. Similarly, the novel Swarga is a partially fictionalized representation of the environmental disaster caused by the misuse of endosulfan pesticide in Kasargod district of Kerala in India. The novel explores the environmental and public health consequences of pesticide misuse. It also concentrates on those health-
  • 3. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470 @ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 997 related effects of endosulfan misuse, that persist even to the present day. The author has made a great effort in portraying the plight of the victims. Endosulfan was introduced to Indian agriculture after the Green Revolution of the 1960’s to increase the food production. When the couple in Swarga gets actively involved in finding the root of the misery, Neelakandan is dumbstruck by the sheer number of diseases and abnormalities suffered by the people, who believe that the adversity that struck them is because of the fury of Lord Jadadhari who their ancestors had insulted and defeated through black magic. He even realizes that bees do not thrive there anymore, adding to the misery of the people who sustained on bee cultivation and the sale of honey. The people of the area were so naïve that they could not understand even the cause of their plight. Once they realise that it is the aerial spraying of endosulphan that has brought the mishap and not any divine curse, they crusade against the companies and authorities that are wiping out an entire ecosystem with their myopic pest-controlling measures. In a gathering of the local people, their concern about this local poisoning is voiced in the following words: Remember the US bombing of Vietnam … The terrible poison used there was called Agent Orange… Roundup is its new name… There were reports of grotesque-looking children born in Vietnam too. What happened in Enmakaje is not too different… Here too they dropped a big bomb. Not at one go, slowly, gradually… It was not an enemy country that bombed us. Our own government, who are elected by us, dropped the bombs, in turns. What a cruel joke!” (176). The novel is successful in bringing a regional issue to a global level by giving an audible voice to the silent sufferings of the people. The sacredness associated with the land is expressed through the tribal old man, Panchi, who becomes the mouthpiece of Mangad. He narrates the spirituality associated with the land of Enmakaje through the images of sacred groves, Jadadhari hill, Basava cows, holy snakes, Sakkijal (the steps of truth) and Kondangiri canal (the stream compared to the holy Ganges). The fertility and biodiversity of the land ensure the well-being of the self-sustaining community Bio-imperialism as a War against Nature Bio-imperialism is the term designated to one of the recent and most sinister forms of neo-colonization, which has taken the entire globe in its grip. The global corporate giants who are constantly waging war against the poor and the dispossessed have now entered into their wombs and arteries to claim a space. This war is being carried out through the process of innovations in biotechnology, genetic engineering and the patenting of indigenous seeds. As Vandana Shiva rightly points out: Every vital, living resource of the planet that maintains the fragile web of life is in the process of being privatised, commodified and appropriated by corporations. Every inch of land that supports the life and livelihoods of tribal and peasant communities is being grabbed, leading to land wars. Every drop of water that flows in our rivers is being appropriated leading to water wars.” (Making Peace with the Earth 4) In Gift in Green, Sarah Joseph hints at the importance of the pokkali rice seed in the ecosystem of Aathi. As the place was filled with saline water and was frequently fraught with floods, the people needed a variety of paddy that was both salt-resistant and flood resistant. The long stalks of the pokkali were ideal for both and the ancestors of the people in Aathi had this knowledge and brought it to the land. Gift in Green discusses how the indigenous varieties of seeds are important by their trait of being location-specific and easily reproducible. The author, by pinpointing the importance of such local knowledge is also hinting at the resourcefulness of our traditional wisdom. Most of the local varieties of crops are able to withstand the local climatic changes. They are less dependent on pesticides, fertilizers and even water. The self- sufficiency of people who depend not only on the rice but on the fishes of the region, held by the mangrove forests also point to a life-style that is totally in tune with nature. The life-supporting vision of the people of Aathi is common to the people of Swarga too. In fact, many of the indigenous communities of the world over are living a life of harmony, until the exploitative tentacles of the outside world crush them and displace them. The ‘scientific’ systems of the day splits agriculture from forestry by assigning lands for the cultivation of single varieties of crops on a large scale and undermining the scope of cultivating multiple crops thereby enhancing biodiversity. Such monocrops as we see in Swarga, are actively grown to obtain maximum profit by spraying pesticides and fertilizers often oblivious to the fact that they upset the delicate balance of nature. Vandana Siva argues that the Green Revolution which brought a surplus of wheat and rice production in India has marginalised several useful varieties of nutritious crops like ragi and jowar. She considers this move as a “biased agricultural science based on capitalist patriarchy” (Monocultures of Mind 24) that would consider highly nutritious crops as inferior. She says that ‘The diverse forest and ecosystems are reduced to ‘preferred’ species by selective
  • 4. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470 @ IJTSRD | Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD59830 | Volume – 7 | Issue – 4 | Jul-Aug 2023 Page 998 annihilation of species diversity which is not ‘useful’ from the market perspective. Moreover, the monocultures of rice and wheat invite pests on a large scale. The fertilizer-intensive cultivation proposed by the Green Revolution further reduces the quality of the soil and increases the necessity of water for irrigation. It is often the prime duty of writers to sensitize society on the issues of gross negligence that affect the lives of the poor people and the environment. Two of the contemporary writer-activists of Kerala, Sarah Joseph and Ambikasuthan Mangadu have interfered actively in the debates on development, land appropriation, environmental degradation through the medium of writing. Works Cited [1] Crosby, Alfred. W. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge UP, 1986. [2] Gadgil, Madhav and Ramachandra Guha, Ecology and Equity: The Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India. Routledge, 1995. [3] Joseph, Sarah. Gift in Green. Trans. Valson Thampu. Oxford UP, 2011. [4] Mangadu, Ambikasutan. Swarga: A Posthuman Tale. Translated by J Devika, Juggernaut, 2017. [5] Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Harvard University Press, 2011. [6] Nkrumah, K. Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons. Online: http://www.marxists.org/africa/nkrumah/neocol onialism/intro [20.06.23] [7] Shiva, Vandana. “Development, Ecology, and Women.” Key Concepts in Literary Theory: Ecology. Ed. Carolyn Merchant. Humanities Press International, Inc., 1994. 272-280. [8] ---. Making Peace with the Earth. Pluto Press, 2013. [9] ---. Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology. Natraj Publishers, 2012.