Organic farming pioneer turns icon of Tamil revivalism

Back in 2013, as he sat fasting for days against the Mannargudi Coal Bed Methane project, ecological crusader Nammalvar explained his opposition to the non-inclusion of any farmer from the Cauvery delta in the committee formed by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa to study the fallout of the project. “Kaipunnai parka kannaadi etharkku.” (who needs a mirror to see a wound in his hand).

Months later, he died on his way to a protest against another methane gas project.

Four years later, one of the young protesters in Kumbakonam and Neduvasal against the union government’s proposed hydrocarbon exploration project is Hari Prasanna Kumar engineering graduate, yoga practitioner, acupuncturist, plastic recycler; but most notably, an ‘ayya’ proponent.

“It was ayya’s dream that our people went back to nature, put their trust in it and protected it. He battled to bring back the cultivation of our native seeds and knew that projects such as this would prevent that from happening,” he says, and quickly adds, “From jallikattu to methane, it looks like Tamil Nadu will have to get used to reclaiming everything that’s its own, only through remonstration.”