Skip to main content

Rejoinder: Why have ex-Gujarat govt officials become so active in Sahitya Parishad polls?

Prakash N Shah: Writer-activist
By Natubhai Parmar*
Some of those who once served the Gujarat government in senior positions have suddenly become very active. They are seeking to influence the Gujarati literary atmosphere by taking an unusually keen interest in the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad elections, which are currently taking place via postal ballots.
The results of the polls, in which more than 3,000 Parishad members are casting their votes,will be out in October last week. As voting is taking place, controversy has erupted following two such ex-officials contesting the post of Parishad’s president.
No doubt, it would have been better if, taking into account the healthy tradition of the Parishad, the president was elected unanimously. In the past, such stalwarts like Narayan Desai of the Gandhi katha fame, who also happens to be the son of Mahadev Desai, Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary, among other prestigious writers, are known to have become Parishad presidents unanimously.
This time, however, three writers are contesting the Parishad polls. Of these three, Harikrushna Pathak and Harshad Trivedi, are former state government officials. The third candidate, Prakash N.Shah, is writer-cum-activist and edits the Gujarati fortnightly ‘Nirikshak’.
As a keen observer of the ongoing Parishad election scenario, I can smell how bureaucratic-minded writers and their followers are in no mood to accept Prakash N Shah, a human rights activist, as Parishad president.
Harshad Trivedi, Harikrushna Pathak: Ex-state officials
One of them, himself is an ex-official with the state government, Dankesh Oza, has been canvassing for his preferred candidate, Harshad Trivedi, who was for a long time as a senior official in the state-owned Gujarat Sahitya Academy. He has raised several questions (see Counterview) about Prakash N Shah, including why the latter has been using the Parishad logo for canvassing in ‘Nirikshak’, as also in his social media campaign.
Following Dankesh Oza’s social media posts, Prakash N Shah humbly decided to withdraw the logo. Interestingly, he did this even though Parishad election officer, PV Trivedi, a retired Gujarat cadre IAS bureaucrat, never objected to the use of the logo. Yet, hype was sought to be created to the extent that an impression was created that Prakash N Shah would withdraw.
Natubhai Parmar
Dankesh Oza is a known supporter of Harshad Trivedi. A joint appeal by the supporters to elect Harshad Trivedi as president of the Praishad includes his name.
Dankesh Oza’s social media drive has, no doubt, spread like wildfire. His only aim seems to be to ensure the victory of Harshad Trivedi by hook or by crook. Harikrushna Pathak, the other ex-official, is contesting the elections without any kind of publicity and appears convinced that his image as a writer and a person with neutral opinion would ensure his victory.
Dankesh Oza is trying to crusade very hard for Harshad Trivedi, even seeking to project himself as neutral. One should, however, remember: Politics and literature are two different things. Politics never suits literature.
One should also remember that Parishad elections are for the betterment of Gujarati literature. So, the winner’s role should serve only one purpose – of being a keen devotee of Gujarati language -- Goddess Saraswati.
---
*Former editor of a Dalit periodical, Dalit rights activist, formerly with Gujarat information department. This is a rejoinder to Dankesh Oza's article Gujarat literati flutter: State Akademi autonomy curb a Sahitya Parishad poll issue? (Counterview, September 28, 2020)

Comments

Ashok Shrimali said…
Very well argued by Natubhai for how to save Gujarati literature without political control. This is a high time to raise our voice for autonomy of any institutions whether it's literature, art, cultural or so.
Paresh Naik said…
Very well written.

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.