This is another article stating my opinion on the issue of intolerance. Here, I have discussed about the protests made by writers in the wake of intolerance. You can also check out an earlier post on intolerance by clicking on the blue title

Religious Politics Harmful for Secular India

Ban on beef has lifted the ban on man turning into meat, freedom of speech has come under the endangered list with the murder of a South Indian writer M.M. Kalburgi and the recent incident by insulting a Pakistani writer’s organizer by throwing ink on his face has insulted the moto ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ as well as the Indian writers. Secular India used to respect every individual and the individual’s choices as well, but the ‘now’ India which promises to bring on about good days or ‘Achhe Din’ has brought about days of utter intolerance amongst its more dominant group of people.

 This intolerance has also met with protests from all around the nation. Protests from prominent writers, artists, scientists, etc. is raging on. One of the most attention grabbing protest is the returning of the Sahithya Akademi award by writers who have won the coveted award. It is India’s most prestigious and coveted literary honour where the winning book is translated into the many Indian languages, hence promoting its readership. Sahithya Akademi is an autonomous institute funded by the Indian central government which chooses its awardees independently.

 The protest by returning awards started when a prominent Kannada writer and a Sahithya Akademi award winner, was murdered for opposing the superstitions prevalent in the Hindu religion. Then on incidents indicating the intolerance brewing within the majority of the nation’s people kept taking place, forcing writers, scientists and artists, all Sahithya Akademi award winners to return their awards in protest.

 While some support the protest of returning awards, some don’t. Reasons to support, range from doing what is ‘politically right’ — while not in reality practicing the same support — to believing it to be honestly the only way to solve the problem of intolerance of views and opinions in the country. Those who oppose the returning of awards are either defending their government, their academy or honestly believe that the way of protest is ineffective.

 In the support of the way of protesting, supporters have said that it is more instantly attention grabbing as well as courageous on the part of the winners who are returning it. By returning the award they are giving up the prize amount, the recognition and the wide readership, that the award promised.

 And in opposing, people have made comments on how it is not right. While some have made comments on how it is ineffective — which seems to make sense — some have made comments in their defence of government or academy.

BJP leader Dr. Subramanian Swamy said, according to the Times of India, “By giving away the Sahithya Akademi awards, the writers are dishonouring the UPA government. It was under their rule that they got these awards and now they are returning it to the BJP. It does not make any sense.” What does not make sense in this statement is the fact that the academy is an autonomous body which chooses its awardees independently and that the government or the previous government have nothing to do with it.

 On the other hand, Chairman of a Central Government funded national academy, while speaking to IBNLIVE said, “As Chairman of a Central government funded national academy I oppose returning of awards. These awards are not decided by the government. All academies are autonomous. A committee comprising the eminent writers or artists who should get which award. By returning the awards these writers and others are actually insulting the academies and the jury,” which made some sense. This protest has also threatened the very autonomous existence of the Sahithya Akademi. Some writers have rightly pointed out that if the controversy ends up destroying the authority of the Akademi then it might prompt the government to take over, thus destroying everything that the protestors have been fighting for.

 Some have said that returning the awards is mere tokenism and is not practically helping. The protests should be carried out by creating awareness on the threat free speech is facing. This can be accomplished by giving in views through writing or by speaking out loud, by ways that may actually change people’s mind and force them to think on the issue.

 So, what is your point of view.

Comments, constructive criticism are all welcome.

Please do like and comment. Your interest keeps me writing.



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