Return of Awards by the Writers

The new phenomena

Several eminent writers returned their awards or resigned from the Sahitya Kala Academy to protest against various incidents of rising intolerance in society, in recent times. They include Ashok Vajpeyi, Poet, who has published over 23 books of poetry, criticism and art, and was given the award for his poetry collection, Kahin Nahin Wahin; Uday Prakash,Writer, Hindi Poet and short-story writer, who won the award for his collection of short stories in 2010; Nayantara Sehgal Writer, who was conferred with the prestigious award for English for her novel Rich Like Us (1985) in the year 1986; Sarah Joseph, writer, who won the award for her novel Aalahayude Penmakkal (Daughters of God the Father); Rahman Abbas, Urdu Novelist, who won the Sahitya Academy Award in 2011 for his novels Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Ankh Micholi; Shashi Deshpande, Author the Novelist who won her award for her novel That Long Silence,in 1990; K. Satchidanandan, Poet and playwright, editor and translator, who resigned from all committees of the Sahitya Kala Akademi; and P K Parakkadavu, Short Story Writer from the Akademi membership. The list is quite large and bulky and also includes six Kannada writers: Veeranna Madiwalar, T. Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridev V Aloor and Chidanand Sali. (State Literary awards)

The writers had purportedly united against the perputed intolerance growing in the country.
The list of galaxy writers include Jawaharlal Nehrus niece Nayantara Sehgal, among the first to return the academy award. Similarly writer Shashi Despande resigned from Sahitya Akademis general council. The writers have also been protesting against the PMs response to the unfortunate incident in Dadri and other parts of the country. As against the stand of the writer, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has stated that the Agitators have manufactured a protest and were indulged in politics by other means due to their ideological intolerance. Similiary the Cultural Minister Mahesh Sharma and BJP MP Satyapal Singh have accused the protesting writer of “selected outrage”.

The situation has become serious enough for our President Pranab Mukherjee to make significant remark. This is what the president said Over the years, our civilization has celebrated diversity, plurality and promoted and advocated tolerance. These values have kept us together over the centuries. Many ancient civilizations have collapsed but the Indian civilization has survived because of its core civilization values and adherence to them, Mukherjee said at a book release function in Rastrapati Bhawan.

The return of the Awards has also resulted in famous personalities in the Film world also to speak out on this aspect. Noted lyrist Gulzar lamented the growing religious intolerance in the country that has never been “witnessed before and justified authors returned their sahitya Akdemi award over this trend. Gulzar, 81 also said he never thought that a situation like this would come where a persons religion is asked before knowing his name. He said giving back the awards was the only way a writer can register protest.

Over 40 writers and artistes from across the country participated in a silent march to the Sahitya Akademi building to protest against growing intolerance in the country.

Articles have also been written by Ramachandra Guha a Bangalore based historian, Film maker Nihalani Slams and Shri Gopal Gandhi former Bengal Governor and Mahatma Gandhi Grandson.

On the other hand the Akedmi has asked the writers to keep award telling them that the Government wants peaceful coexistence.

Scientists join intolerance debate : Joining the debate on growing incidents of intolerance, a newly constituted body of scientists has expressed its anxiety at recent events in the country and called for exemplary punishment to trespassers of reason and rights. The Inter-Academy Panel on Ethics in Science, a body formed earlier this year by three top science academies of the country, issued a statement to express concern over statements and actions that run counter to Indias Constitutional spirit.

The panel, constituted jointly by the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru, and the National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad, was formed with the objective of maintaining ethical standards in scientific research.
More than 100 signatories, including Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri recipient; former directors of Indian Institute of Science, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board & Centre for Cellular and Motecular Biology: professors at IITs & other premier institutes expressed concern over climate of intolerance in the country.

12 Filmmakers including Khosla Ka Ghosladirector Dibakar Banerjee, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan and Gulabi Gang director Nishtha Jain, are set to return their national awards over growing intolerance.

More than 50 historians from across India, including stalwarts like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, BND Chattopadhyaya, Upinder Singh, M G S Narayanan and D N JHa, have issued a joint statement expressing concern about the highly vitiated atmosphere prevailing in the country, characterized by various forms of intolerance
The historians have urged the Centre to ensure an atmosphere that is conducive to free and fearless expression, security for all sections of society and the safeguarding of the values and traditions of plurality that India had always cherished in the past.

Scientist P M Bhargava said the situation had gone out of control today forcing him to protest while writer Nayantara Sehgal said the Centre was rattled and not responding in an intelligent way.

President Pranab Mukherjee has yet again emphasized Indias pluralistic character and said the national had thrived because the attributes of assimilation and tolerance had with stood the test of time.
Our country has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. Our pluralistic character has stood the test of time, Mukherjee said in his address during the golden jubilee celebrations of the Delhi High Court on Saturday, 31 October 2015.

Each passing day, brings in more news of historian and other literacy award winners, announcing their decision to return the awards. The latest to join in the fray, is noted historian and writer from Uttarakhand, Shekhar Pathak who announced his decision to give up his Padam Shri, bestowed in 2007. The latest to join is famous actor Shah Rukh Khan, who joined the chorus against growing intolerance in the country.

The writers, artists and scientists have a role to play in the countrys march towards a bet5ter world. As pointed out by James Joyce The artist, like The God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond on above his handi work, invisible, refined out of existence indifferent. About Autho9rs, this is what Samuel Johnson has to say The Chief glory of every people arises from its authors about the pursuit of science, this is what George Santayana has to say Science is nothing but developed perception, interpreted intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated

However equally strong sentiments are being voiced by the top political leaders, against the action of the artists and writers. The Chairman of the Indian Council of Historical research (ICHR) Y. Sudhershan Rao has described the protest as unprofessional and unwarranted.

It may not be appropriate to give a final verdict on this issue, but certainly the question requires a broad consensus among the bureaucracy and the writers, artists and historians for the future generation.

Mr. Keshav Dayal 
Senior Advocate , Supreme Court Of India
Patron :Dayal Legal Associates.
DEEPAK DAYAL (MBA, LLB) | Managing Partner,
Dayal Legal Associates .India. 
Advocate, Supreme Court Of India.

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