P. Sivakami

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Palanimuthu Sivakami (born 30th November 1957) is an Indian Dalit-Feminist writer, former IAS officer and activist predominantly writing in Tamil. Her notable works include Pazhayani Kazhidalum, Kurruku Vettu, Nalum Thodarum and Kadaisi Mandhar. Apart from being one of the most prominent Dalit novelists in India, she has also constantly voiced her opinions on contemporary social and political issues. [1] An author of four novels, P. Sivagami has regularly kept in touch with editing and has actively contributed to the monthly magazine Puthiya Kodangi since 1995. She is a significant presence on social media through her twitter account.

Early life and education[edit]

P. Sivakami was born in Tamil Nadu .Her father, M.Palanimuthu is an independent MLA.[2] Her mother was half-Gujarati and half-Maharashtrian, but since she had grown up in Uttar Pradesh she was more familiar with Hindi.[3] She has graduate and post-graduate degrees in history.[4]


Early Career[edit]

After completing her education, Sivakami appeared for and cleared the Indian Administrative Services exams, working in several capacities, including as district collector of Tuticorn and Vellore, additional secretary (labour), Director of Tourism (GoI) and secretary, Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare. As a steadfast bureaucrat, she served as Special Commissioner, Directorate of Stationary and Printing for Tamil Nadu Govt and Collector in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.She became a part of the Dalit Land Rights Movement in Tamil Nadu since 2003. She has seen in her own experience as an upright officer situations where Caste Hindu bureaucracy has denied the fitting post to Scheduled Class, for the simple reason that Scheduled Class a wrongly conceived concept. It is no denial in politics, media, judiciary, and in executives Caste Hindu is dominating entire system of our country.[5] In an interview with The Business Standard in February 2016, she said, "Bureaucracy has treated me like an untouchable". [6]

Sivakami wanted to write on social and political issues, especially regarding the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, because of which she quit her position as a civil servant.

Literary Career[edit]

Since 1995, she has been centrally involved in the publication of the literary journal Puthiya Kodangi and has a lively investment in issues that touch Dalit and other backward castes and women in Tamil Nadu. She is the first Tamil Dalit Woman to write a novel Pazhiyana Kazhidalum in 1989. A literary and commercial success, the novel created a stir by taking on patriarchy in the Dalit movement. The novel is translated by the author herself and published in English as The Grip of Change (2006). Her second novel Anandhayi is about the violent treatment of women and was translated into English by Pritham K Chakravarthy as The Taming of Women in 2011. Her ffrst poetry collection, Kadhavadaippu, was published in October 2011. Sivakami has written four critically acclaimed novels, all of them centred on Dalit and Feminist themes. She has written numerous short stories and poems focusing on similar issues. Sivakami’s novels portray the rustic story of women who suffer at the hands of men who strongly believe in and stand for patriarchy. The conflicts and struggles are between tenacious women and tyrannical men in the contemporary society.[7]

Sivakami made a short film Ooodaha (Through) based on a story written by one of her friends. Set in 1995, it was selected by the National Panorama and won the President Award the same year.

Political career[edit]

She quit the Indian Administrative Service in 2008 after 29 years and joined politics a year later, contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Kanyakumari representing the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). However, she lost the elections.

In 2009, she founded her own political party, Samuga Samathuva Padai. Sivakami informs, “Based on the principles of Dalit educationist and political leader Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, it is a forum for social equality.”[8]


  • Pazhayani Kazhidalum ("In the Grip of Change", 1988)
  • Pazhayani Kazhidalum Asiriyar Kurippu ("Author's Notes for The Grip of Change", 1995)
  • Kurruku Vettu (1999)
  • Ippadiku Ungal Yadharthamulla (1986)
  • Nalum Thodarum (1989)
  • Kadaisi Mandhar (1995)
  • Kadaigal (2004)
  • Anandhayi
  • Kadhavadaippu (2011)
  • Udal Arasiyal ("Body Politics", essays)


  1. ^ Pathak, Nilima (26 August 2012). "Sivakami, first Great woman to become a novelist". Gulf News. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Sivakami IAS;". ambedkarambeth.blogspot.in. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  3. ^ Tulsi Badrinath (29 January 2015). Madras, Chennai and the Self: Conversations with the City. Pan Macmillan. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-1-5098-0006-3.
  4. ^ Rajaram, R. (2016-04-28). "Ex-bureaucrat in her second innings". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-10-28.
  5. ^ அம்பேத், Ambeth (2015-03-13). "Ambeth அம்பேத்: Sivakami IAS;". Ambeth அம்பேத். Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  6. ^ IANS (2016-02-04). "Bureaucracy treated me like an untouchable: Ex-IAS officer Sivakami (IANS Interview)". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  7. ^ (PDF) http://www.the-criterion.com/V7/n1/019.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Sivakami, first Dalit woman to become a novelist". gulfnews.com. Retrieved 2019-03-14.

Further reading[edit]

  • Satyanarayana, K & Tharu, Susie (2011) No Alphabet in Sight: New Dalit Writing from South Asia, Dossier 1: Tamil and Malayalam, New Delhi: Penguin Books.
  • Satyanarayana, K & Tharu, Susie (2013) 'From those Stubs Steel Nibs are Sprouting: New Dalit Writing from South Asia, Dossier 2: Kannada and Telugu, New Delhi: HarperCollins India.