Current Books has drawn flak for their seemingly disrespectful attitude towards translators and the woman in particular.

Authors lash out at Kerala publisher for not standing up for woman writer
news Sunday, September 27, 2015 - 19:42

Writer Sreedevi S Kartha’s allegations against Current Books publications in Kerala stating that the latter barred her from being on stage during the release of a book translated by her due to the presence of a Hindu seer at the event has spurned intense debates in the past few days.

Sreedevi’s Malayalam translation of the book ‘Transcendence: My spiritual Experience with Pramukh Swamiji’ co-authored by former President APJ Abdul Kalam and Arun Tiwari was scheduled to be launched on Saturday.

However, in a Facebook post on Friday night, she lashed out at the event's organizers who had allegedly told her that she could not share the stage with the chief guest Swami Brahmavihari Das, who is a representative of Pramukh Swamiji of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

The reason, she said, was that the seer believes that the “impure shadow of woman” cannot fall on Swamiji.

Current Books has been changing its stance on the issue. While the publishing house once said that it did not invite Sreedevi along with three others due to space constraints, in another instance they provided a clarification stating they had no plans to invite Sreedevi to the function as she was the translator and not the original author. The publishing house has drawn flak from many for constantly changing their statements as well as for their seemingly disrespectful attitude towards translators and the woman in particular.

Many discussions have been taking place on social media in support of Sreedevi and against Current Books.

Speaking to TNM, women rights activist Jolly Chirayath said that the Hindu mutt, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and Current Books were equally responsible for the issue.

“It was a shameful approach taken by the Sanstha and the prominent publishing house. If this function was held inside the Sanstha, then they could have demanded the absence of women. But it was planned to be conducted in a public place. It was totally undemocratic,” she said.

Popular writer P Valsala told TNM that it was “utter foolishness” on part of the publishers to say Sreedevi was not an author but just a translator.

“Translators are obviously the authors and what publishers claim is rather foolish. In a small place like Kerala, translators have done a very good job of introducing world literature to Kerala. The state’s book industry mainly depends on translated works and we have several talented translators too. Sreedevi is a budding writer and this episode should not have happened,” she added.

She further added that it was the responsibility of the publishers to avoid such a situation.

“Every religious organisation,” she said, “has their own set of rules and practices, and they have the right to follow it. So we can’t blame the Matt. The organisers could have invited Sreedevi, instead of  the invitees from the mutt, as she was the author of the book.”

Kerala Sahitya Academy Chairperson and prominent writer Perumbadavom Sreedharah echoed Valsala’s opinions as he lashed out at the narrow-mindededness.

Calling the episode “unfortunate” and stating that “translators are not any less than writers”, he said, “If Swami does not want to see women, then he can sit inside his matt. Why would he agree to come for a public function and expect not to see women? How is it possible that the author of the book is not invited at the release function? This just goes on to show the crooked and chauvinistic attitude many in our society harbor.”

However writer, social activist and AAP leader Sarah Joseph, who was invited to release the book after it became clear that the Swami would not be allowed to do the same following the huge controversy, denied that the function was anti-women.

“This may have been an unintended error on the part of Current Books because they have encouraged many women writers in the past. When we create a controversy, we should also listen to both sides and not make one-sided decisions. Also don’t portray me as anti-women. I was sure that the publishing house’s approach was not against women,” she said.

A spokesperson from the Sanstha had earlier told The News Minute that women are not allowed near the Swamijis. When asked how it was justified when the woman who had translated the book was not allowed, the person said, “She has only translated.” 

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