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Former Kerala health minister KK Shailaja became a global icon because of her handling of the first phase of the COVID pandemic. In her new memoir, My Life as a Comrade, she tells her story – from her childhood as a shy, fearful girl, her days as a school teacher where she learnt the art of managing difficult students to her entry into politics leading to a tenure as health minister where she dealt with two terrifying epidemics.
Along the way, she tells the story of Kerala in post-independent India – how its Communist politics shaped her family and the state, and what makes the Kerala model so remarkable.
KK Shailaja will be in conversation with Indulekha and Manju Sara Rajan.
In collaboration with:
KK Shailaja is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Kerala from the Mattanur constituency and a CPI(M) Central Committee Member. She is the former minister for Health, Social Justice, Women and Child Development of Kerala. Popularly known as ‘Shailaja Teacher’, she is the author of several books on gender, communism and public health in Malayalam.
Manju Sara Rajan
Manju Sara Rajan is a writer, editor and arts manager, and presently the editor-in-chief of beautifulhomes.com, India’s largest design and décor content platform. She was formerly the CEO of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, the founding editor of the Indian edition of Architectural Digest and contributing editor for Vogue. MSR began her career as a reporter in Time magazine’s Asia bureau in Hong Kong, before moving to India and other media publications like Indian Express, Mint Lounge and Open. In 2020, she wrote several profile pieces on K.K. Shailaja for Vogue India’s coverage of the COVID pandemic. This book was the outcome of her cover profile of Shailaja Teacher in the November 2020 edition, in which ShailajaTeacher was named ‘Leader of the year’.
Indulekha Aravind is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years of experience. A recipient of the Chevening South Asia Journalism Fellowship, she is currently a Senior Assistant Editor with The Economic Times in Bengaluru where she writes deeply-reported news features spanning a range of issues. Her areas of interest include politics, social justice and health.