Published: 15th November 2018
Kovai teacher who won State Award accused of being unqualified for illustrating Tirukkural
K Eswaran, an art teacher is also the author of a book titled Thoorikaikkural that explains the Tirukkural through paintings. They want to take the award given on Sept 5 for this reason
Almost three decades ago, K Eswaran was a young art enthusiast from Coimbatore who was totally smitten by Thiruvalluvar's Tirukkural. Determined to spread the inner meanings in the iconic couplets to children and adults, this Art teacher in a government-aided school in Coimbatore wrote a book titled Thoorikaikkural where he had explained the Kurals through art.
Sadly, a recipient of this year's Tamil Nadu Government's Best Teacher Award, he has been going through emotional turmoil recently as a few of his colleagues have accused him of being 'unqualified' to receive the award. The reason? He'd authored a book and 'made money' off it.
The teachers who've raised the complaint have accused Eswaran of not being eligible for the award as the norms for receiving an award state that he should have no external income. "According to the norms, government teachers and employees are to not indulge in any activity that generates external income. Also, they need the department head's permission to publish a book. But Eswaran has violated both," S A Rajkumar, President, TN Arts Teachers' Welfare Association told The New Indian Express. Following the complaint, the Director of School Education sought an explanation from the Chief Education Officer for recommending Eswaran for the award.
But Eswaran, on the other hand, who spent close to 24 years on the book says that the complaint is a result of sheer jealousy. "I'm not making any money off it. If these people who complained against me are doing it out of jealousy, then what can I do about it?" he asks. "This is the reward for my hard work in illustrating all the Tirukkurals and several other works of art from Tamil classical poems. Though I have enemies at the school level, I'm glad I've been recognised in a larger forum," he adds. Eswaran added that he had painstakingly created these illustrations whenever he had the time and had exhibited them at several exhibitions around the state.
Usha Publications, which published the book, has printed 500 copies till now, of which, the author has given a lot of them for free to school students and libraries. "The only reason I published the book is that I wanted to spread knowledge to students and the public and not for my own selfish financial gains," he says.
Following the complaint, he has met the District Educational Officer and the Chief Educational Officer to show them the books and illustrations and has also given them a written explanation. "I've even suggested the government purchase the book and circulate it to all schools because it'll be very useful for all students," he says.