Skip to main content

Whopping 350 artists support India's top writers' protest move to return Sahitya Akademi award

Nayantara Sahgal
By Our Representative
In a fresh sign of resentment, as many as 350 artists have come together and signed a statement declaring their "firm solidarity" with the actions of top writers, "who have relinquished awards and positions, and spoken up in protest against the alarming rise of intolerance in the country." As many as 33 writers, following Jawarhlal Nehru's celebrated niece Nayantara Sahgal, have so far returned India's best known Sahitya Akademi award. 
The statement has been released by Released by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, formed in the memory of the young theatre personality, slain by political goondas in early 1989 when he was performing a series of street plays in Uttar Pradesh. Those who have signed the statement include prominent artists Arpana Caur, Jatin Das, KG Subramanyan, Krishen Khanna, Paramjit Singh, N Ramachandran, Sudhir Patwardhan, and Vivan Sundaram.
Condemning the murders of MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, calling them "rationalists and free thinkers whose voices have been silenced by rightwing dogmatists", the statement says, "We will never forget the battle we fought for our pre-eminent artist MF Husain who was hounded out of the country and died in exile."
The statement says, "We see a writer like Perumal Murugan being intimidated into declaring his death as a writer, a matter of dire shame in any society". And all this is happening when the Prime Minister "has been conspicuously reticent in his response to the recent events", it underlines.
Coming down heavily on "reactions of BJP ministers in his government reveal their ignorance and prejudice", especially Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture, who has made "abhorrent comments about mob lynching and murder", the statement says, "His remarks suggesting that writers should stop writing to prove their point are alarming – empowered as he is to take policy decisions in the domain of culture." The statement also objects to the view of Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Information & Broadcasting, who has "mocked the actions of our respected writers as a manufactured ‘paper rebellion’." Worse, it adds, Jaitley has asked "for scrutiny of the political and ideological affiliations of those who are protesting."
Pointing out that an unequivocal trend has now come about suggesting that artists and writers are getting "disaffiliation from a government that encourages marauding outfits to enforce a series of regressive commands in this culturally diverse country", the statement refers to the "escalating" scale of "social violence and fatal assaults on ordinary citizens (as in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh; Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir; Faridabad, Harayana)".
"The contemptuous comments about the religious minorities and Dalits made by those within the government confirm that there is little difference between the RSS-BJP mainstream and supposed ‘fringe’ elements. The perfunctory warnings and regrets issued by ruling party ideologues – to defend the agendas of ‘development’ and ‘governance’ advanced by Modi – are merely expedient", the statement says.
The statement notes, "The ideology of the ruling party has revealed its contempt for creative and intellectual work; bigotry and censorship will only grow. As in the past, we must challenge the divisive forces through varied forms of appeal and protest, articulation and refusal."
Demanding that "the entire range of constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens of this country – freedom of expression and speech, right to dissent and exert difference in life choices including culture and religion – be ensured", the statement says, "A government that does not tolerate difference, that does not safeguard the lives and interests of its marginalized and vulnerable citizens, loses its legitimacy in a democratic polity."

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.