I don't want compensation from Sahitya Akademi: Balachandran Chullikkad

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Ernakulam: Poet Balachandran Chullikkad, who made public his disappointment over how he was treated by the Sahitya Akademi at the International Literature Festival organised in Thrissur recently, has said he does not want the compensation promised by the Akademi.

Speaking to Manorama News, Chullikkad said: “My protest is not for any compensation from the Sahitya Akademi. This is not an issue that can be settled through compensation. My protest is not even aimed at the Akademi but against the attitude of the state government and the society towards poets and writers. While mimicry, cinema and serial artists get lakhs of rupees as remuneration for programmes, poets and litterateurs are neglected and discriminated against. We must at least be given travel allowance when invited for events.”

In another post published on Facebook by CICC Jayachandran, a close friend of the poet, the former wrote, quoting Chullikkad: “Neither money nor the Sahitya Akademi nor Satchidanandan was the object of my protest. I intended to call out the discrimination meted out to poets by the government and society based on my previous experience with the Akademi. I respect the International Literature Festival, which has initiated a healthy discourse on literary communication and the hard work of the Akademi officials, including Satchidanandan. Hope the government and society change their attitude towards poets. I do not want their compensation.”

In an earlier post by Jayachandran quoting Chullikkad, the poet’s note ended with an appeal to not bother him with cultural functions anymore. After the post went viral, Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cheriyan said he had apologised to the poet personally.

The FB post narrating the incident
It was on January 30 that I realised the actual value that the people of Kerala placed on me. The Kerala Sahitya Akademi had invited me to speak on Kumaran Aasan’s ‘Karunakavyam’ at a session at the International Literature Festival. I reached the venue on time and spoke about the subject for over two hours. I tried to express whatever I had learned from my efforts to understand the nuances of Asan’s poetry for the last five decades. I received an honorarium of Rs 2,400 for speaking at this session. My expense that day was Rs 3,500 including the cab fare from Ernakulam to Thrissur and other charges for the driver. I paid the remaining Rs 1,100 out of the remuneration that I had earned from acting in television serials.

Dear enlightened Keralites, I have never been a member of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi. Nor have I bowed before any ministers to receive an award or a special recognition. I vow that I will never do any such thing. Keralites are willing to pay hefty sums to singers and mimicry artists. I am grateful (to you) for making me understand my real value through your Sahitya Akademi. I just have one request! Please do not bother me any more to fulfil your artistic or cultural needs. Do not rob any more time from my life. I have other things to do.
An Akademi official later clarified that it was clerical oversight that the government entity would reimburse the poet his travel expense.

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