Shyam Balakrishnan, on whose petition the Kerala High Court said that “being a Maoist is not a crime”, has often refused to confine his life to the rules laid down by society.
Son of former High Court judge and current chairman of Kerala Administrative Tribunal Justice Balakrishnan Nair, Shyam (33) is an active member of “one world university”, an informal integrated approach towards politics, culture, religion and other aspects.
Brought up in an urban milieu of Kochi, Shyam lives in a nondescript Wayanad village, Niravilpuzha.
Shyam got inspired by the “one world” idea around 12 years ago. After degree course in psychology, he left formal education. “I joined for psychology course with the expectation to learn about man and life. But the course let me down,” he says.
He then worked as photographer for three years — a career divided between wild life photography and commercial promos. “I was fed up with photography too. For the next five years, I travelled from one place to another, visiting spiritual centres and academic institutions, including the traditional gurukulams. I wanted to study throughout my life, but I insist that learning should be without the frame of a university and its grants.’’
Five years ago, Shyam settled at Niravilpuzha, where he also engaged himself in organic farming on an one-and-a half acre plot. Often, he wrote articles in non-mainstream publications.
Shyam’s wife Geethi Priya studied at Kanavu, an alternative school for tribal children in Wayand, established by activist-cum-writer K J Baby. “She studied at Kanavu for 17 years. She teaches various dance forms and conducts workshops,’’ says Shyam. The couple, according to Shyam, arrange for their basic needs mainly from farming. “Our expenses are very limited. The friends in the network would help us in various ways,’’ he says.
On the incident that led police suspect him as a Maoist, Shyam says there is an underlying assertion that the government can nab anyone. “There was an element of terrorizing a community behind the police action. It was more than a personal grievance,” he says.
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