This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shikha Sharma. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

10 Things To Know About Cho Ramaswamy, The Man Who Loved To Defy Everything

More from Shikha Sharma

Veteran journalist and senior political satirist Srinivasa Iyer Ramaswamy passed away in Chennai on Wednesday morning following a chronic lung condition. He was 82.

Through his life, Cho, as he was popularly called, donned many hats. A comedian, journalist, filmmaker, politician, playwright and pundit, he was widely known in Tamil Nadu for his impartial assessment of political issues, and audacity to question the system. Yet, he maintained a close proximity with India’s most powerful political leaders, with whom he shared an amicable equation.

Here are some lesser known facts from the maverick editor’s life:

1) He made cringe comedy cool, much before India knew what cringe comedy was:

Cho directed the 1971 Tamil language cringe comedy Muhammad Bin Tuglaq, adapted from a play  he himself wrote in in 1968. Many believe it portrayed former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s ‘autocratic’ rule. The success of the also play led Cho to launch the famous Tamil magazine, Thuglak in 1970.

2) He spoke truth to power during India’s emergency era:

During the Emergency era, Cho’s magazine ‘Thuglak’ was the only magazine whose advertisements were censored. When the publication resumed after emergency, its first issue was boldly published with just a black front cover as a mark of protest against the central government.

3) He was nicknamed Cho after threatening his way into a play:

The story goes that when the famous Tamil playwright Koothabiran wrote his play “Thenmozhiaal”, Cho badly wanted a role. But Koothabiran didn’t have a role for him. Cho then went up to Koothabiran and ordered him to write a role for him.“It is not possible to fit you in,” Koothabiran said. “Well, in that case, I will walk into every scene,” Cho reportedly said. The threat, combined with the mad gleam in his eye, made Koothabiran write 5 scenes for a new character he introduced – Mr Cho.

4) Bollywood borrowed heavily from Cho’s movies:

Bollywood movies, like the much loved “Andaz Apna Apna” would also borrow scenes from Cho’s movies. For example, the sequence in his movie “Adimai Penn” where Cho exchanges glasses of juices kept and the villains poisonous glass gets mixed up in the episode, was later on borrowed in “Andaz Apna Apna” in 1994 where Aamir Khan foils the plan of the villains. Similarly, the scene in “Thenmozhiaal” where Cho acted as a doctor to look after his patient and uses carpenter’s tools to operate upon the patient, was again replicated in “Andaz Apna Apna” as well.

5) Cho and Jayalalithaa were part of the same drama troupe:

Cho and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s association went back to their years in the Tamil film industry. In fact, both were part of the same drama troupe. Over the course of their film careers, the two even worked together in 19 films together.

6) A close friend of Jayalalithaa, he was also one of her most strident critics:

The senior political analyst, in fact, was really critical of Jayalalithaa’s first tenure as Chief Minister. Soon after AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran’s death, he wanted his widow Janaki to be sworn in as the Chief Minister. But when Jayalalithaa took over, he played a key role in bringing together the DMK and a newly formed alliance party against the AIADMK and the Congress.

7) He was a vocal critic of dynastic politics:

Despite his close proximity with the who’s who of India’s politicians, he remained a vocal critical of the country’s dynastic politics. In fact, in his latest address to Thuglak readers in January this year, he advised voters against supporting ‘family rule’ – in this case – the DMK.

8) He called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘Merchant of Death’ in the aftermath of the Godhra riots:

PM Modi and Cho shared a warm friendship, yet the political commentator didn’t think twice before introducing Modi as the ‘merchant of death’ during one of his addresses. “I now invite to address you, the ‘merchant of death’…the merchant of death to terrorism, the merchant of death to corruption, the merchant of death to nepotism, the merchant of death to official inefficiency, the merchant of death to  bureaucratic negligence, the merchant of death to poverty and ignorance, the merchant of death to darkness and despair…will now address you,” says Ramaswamy, in a video, that was shared by Prime Minister Modi on twitter.

9) He had his own way of defying authority:

When the Central government said that its Post and Telegraph Department was going to bring out a Sanjay Gandhi commemorative stamp, an incensed Ramaswamy felt that Captain Subhash Saxena, who died in the same plane crash as the leader, deserved the honour more. However, knowing his sentiments would not be shared by Delhi, Ramaswamy issued his own Saxena stamp. The postal departments didn’t realise the stamps were not official and mistakenly approved them. When people starting using the stamps, things got out of hand before the department manage to cancel the stamps in use.

10) He wrote on religion, but constantly questioned its validity:

The atheist turned believer wrote extensively on religion, writing books like Mahabaratham Pesugirathu, Valmiki Ramayanam and Verukathagada Bramaniyam. Yet he also questioned its hypocrisy. A recent television series directed by him on his book “Enge Brahmanan” (Where Is The Brahmin?) was about the life of an elite Tamil brahmin, but it also questioned the relevance of the culture & religious practices in the current times.

Never afraid to question authority, his death is not just a loss to the state of Tamil Nadu, but the entire country. India just lost a great democrat with his passing away.

You must be to comment.

More from Shikha Sharma

Similar Posts

By Devansh Mishra

By Priyaranjan Kumar

By Tanmay Varshanant

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below