Kerala CM claims Keraleeyam did not exhibit Adivasis, negates minister Radhakrishnan's criticism

A guest poses with tribespeople in front of a makeshift traditional hut at 'Adimam' event part of Keraleeyam in Thiruvananthapuram. Photo: Facebook/@sajicheriancpim

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has invalidated his cabinet colleague, K Radhakrishnan's criticism of 'Adimam' Living Museum at the Keraleeyam event for allegedly objectifying tribespeople.

Radhakrishnan, who holds the portfolio of Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, had said on Tuesday that it was wrong to put Adivasis in a showcase. The minister's response was to a media query on the raging controversy about the portrayal of tribal communities at the Keraleeyam event.
Photographs of tribespeople, in traditional attire, performing and posing before guests, in front of makeshift tribal huts installed on the premises of the Kanakakunnu Palace, went viral and became a talking point.

However, the chief minister has said the controversy is an effort to tarnish the image of Keraleeyam, the LDF government's week-long mega cultural event aimed at promoting Kerala globally. The event was held in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram from November 1 to 7.

"The traditional huts were installed on consultation and under the supervision of the tribe leaders. The Folklore Academy offered them a platform and that was a welcome move. Members of the tribes exhibited their traditional art forms, as done by their ancestors, in front of those huts, what is wrong with that?" asked the Kerala CM.

Pinarayi negated Radhakrishnan's comments by saying the minister had himself said he did not see the event. "But I'm saying what actually happened. To say that they were sat there as exhibits is ill-intented. It is totally wrong to say that Adivasis were showcased. It is not a new thing to show the world the lives of our ancestors, it has happened everywhere," Pinarayi argued.

Minister K Radhakrishnan (left) with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File photo: Manorama

Wrong point of view?
According to the chief minister, the photographs widely circulated on social media, showing tribespeople posing for guests before the huts was wrongs construed as an exhibit. "There are tribal artists who cooperate with the Folklore Academy and it was they who participated in Keraleeyam. They were happy that their art forms were witnessed by many. After their performances, quite naturally, they sat down in front of the huts to take rest. But some took a snap of that moment and publicised it claiming it was an exhibition.

"During Republic Day parade the tableaus show the lives of various communities, including Adivasis. Doesn't that draw a lot of attention?"

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