Saturday, October 17, 2015

Award-returning – A confederacy of dunces

Are we expecting a true genius, as predicted by Jonathan Swift? The signs are all there. The dunces from both the sides are working in such a tandem that all the tandem bicycle enthusiasts have hung their heads in shame. Such co-ordination is beyond their wildest dreams.

It all started with Modi government occupying the central government. Yes, they are not ruling, they are occupying the central government in the hope that the ‘ruling’ part will take care of itself. The opposition party was still shell-shocked at becoming one. It has remained so, except coming up for air a few times.

The ‘intelligentsia’ was also shell-shocked. But for over a year, they couldn’t find any rallying point to oppose the lack of governance, the absence of ‘development’, the shameless favoritism, childish utterances of the PM and the infantile statements of the ministers. School kids in a village next to CM Vasundhara Scindia’s constituency had to resort to a road block to get more teachers. This was enough to puncture the claim of ‘development’, but nobody took it up.

Rationalists of note, Pansare and Kalburgi were murdered in broad daylight. Dabholkar’s murder is still a mystery.

Then the Dadri murder happened, and suddenly the ‘litterateurs’ found voice. Some fertile mind came up with the idea of ‘returning the awards’ and it seems to be a minor epidemic. Let’s examine the idea.

What is expected from Sahitya Akademi? To publish a press note condemning the government? If yes, which government – State, or Center or both? Does Sahitya Akademi have any judicial / quasi-judicial / administrative powers? One can resign from government, bureaucracy or police force if that respective branch is not taking any action that is due.

What does ‘returning the award’ translate into? Are they returning the money? One uncharitable view can be that they used it interest-free (I am sure some nitwit from the Government side will take this line). When a person like Nayantara Sahgal is returning the award after 29 years, will she return the amount that she got in 1986, or the prevalent award money? And if they are not returning the money, what exactly are they returning? The photographs of the ceremony?

The ‘award’ is not like a license or a registration, like that of a doctor or a lawyer or a CA, which can be revoked/relinquished. So ‘returning the award’ is crass tokenism, which doesn’t help anyone except the BJP. It is as notional as Sachin Tendulkar ‘dedicating’ his Bharat Ratna to all Indian mothers. Has it helped a single Indian mother who was forced to participate in female feticide or to face dowry death? So the ‘award returning’ will help the ‘litterateurs’ to grab headlines for a few moments, but how is it going to help the victims of Dadri lynching or the investigations in the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi? Will it prevent more such lynching or murders from happening?

If the ‘litterateurs’ are really so concerned, they will have to show some action on ground. How about pooling money to start a fund for helping victims of such incidents?

How about raising a voice against brazen acts such as canceling Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai and Pune? Emboldened by this, Shiv Sena has spread its vicious tentacles in Ahmedabad, canceling a performance by a Sufi band.

On 14 Oct, a family from Pakistan couldn’t find place in any hotel, lodge or guesthouse, because they were from Pakistan. They have valid visas. They didn’t face any problem in Rajasthan, but faced it in a ‘economic capital of the country’. That is the level of poison that has been injected in people’s mind.

Of these ‘award returning’ group, will they return their Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees or PhDs, because those were awarded by a University that is under HRD ministry, hence the government? Will they at least ‘return’ honorary doctorates? Will they return their passport or driving license or PAN card, because it is given by the government? Will they stop working on any and all government committees?

They will not. Because all these are tangible things, related to material existence.

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