Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Adarsh Liberal Nautanki - Nothing Akademic About It

The Nautanki of Nayantara Sahgal - Much Ado About Nothing (Courtesy - The Hindu)

Of late, we have been seeing writers across the board returning their Sahitya Akademi award for great creations. It all started with the niece of the hallowed Jawaharlal Nehru, Nayantara Sehgal, followed by people like Ashok Vajpayi, Uday Prakash and many other people, including the likes of Surjit Patar joining the list, totaling to a grand number of twenty one. "Freedom of speech being throttled", "no space for free speech", "vitiated communal atmosphere" are phrases that are being bandied about as reasons for the protest. A cursory examination however demolishes many of the facts that are being loosely thrown around recklessly to vitiate the atmosphere.

Most of the writers have just announced returning of awards. A news report by the Indian Express has specifically noted how many of these 'eminent' writers have been more than eager to announce in the media their protest rather than actually formally notifying the Akademi. In fact, hardly any of them have returned the cash reward they received to date. Ironically, many of them who received the award who are also Padma awardees which is awarded directly by the government, have steadfastly held on to them. Manufactured protest, as Arun Jaitley pointed out, is exactly how one can hence describe it.

The major reason why many of these writers are shrilly protesting is the ending of the culture of patronage that had existed since the time of independence. Patronage in fact went to the extent of allowing a free run on encroaching properties. In August this year, Hindustan Times had reported how artists of 27 families including emiment artists like Birju Maharaj and Jatin Das (father of Nandita Das), who had overstayed in government allotted properties by two decades, were finally shown the door by the government. Also, a Parliamentary panel had noted last year how the functioning of cultural bodies associated with the government of India in some way or the other needed clean-up. In the words of the Parliamentary panel (headed by Sitaram Yechury),

"But, unfortunately, these institutions over the time are alleged to have developed the vested interests monopolised by a few persons or groups who have earned titles of culture vultures or culture czars. Their products are described as being uninspiring, not showcasing the composite culture of India,"

which points to serious foul-play going on within these organizations, of whom many of these eminent writers and personalities are active participants, as governing board members, presidents and many other positions of authorities. Clean-up has clearly been initiated, and those whose hands are the dirtiest are perhaps the ones who are screaming the loudest.

The hypocrisy of these people who are returning awards is more than evident. Sample this statement from Nayantara Sehgal. When asked about why she never returned the awards during other riots, she stated that "this is different, now we have a Hindutva government' which can only be described as bizarre if not downright inane and only makes the 'eminent' writer look like a dolt. Another writer returned in protest to say that MM Kalburgi was murdered by Hindu fanatics, whereas none of that has been proven to date. In fact, the person of interest who should really be questioned is the Karnataka state government which could not ensure his safety despite repeated threats. Law and order is a state subject, for which the Union government CANNOT be held responsible. The so called vitiated atmosphere rather is being created by a bunch of retarded media professionals whose ethics along with those of the writers have been rightly questioned by others repeatedly. None of these people had a conscience clearly when Taslima Nasreen was threatened by Akbaruddin Owaisi, when Joe D'Cruz's book was withheld by Navayana as he stood publicly against their position on Narendra Modi, and many other situations where their presence was marked by their repeated silence.

What makes it even more laughable is the fact that all this protest on free speech threatening is generating so much debate and deliberation that the logic flies back into the face of these buffoons. The nautanki of the Adarsh Liberal is more than evident here, and there is clearly nothing Akademic about it. The sooner they stop, the faster they will stop becoming the laughing stock of common people who find them absolutely facetious.


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