The country’s biggest literature festival ended in Jaipur recently without any big controversy. Some controversy crept up but of less impact. Film director Karan Johar questioned the democracy and freedom of speech in the country. Karan also tried to fuel the intolerance debate by saying that it is very difficult to say ‘Mann ki Baat’ in this country. Karan sarcastically said that the freedom of expression in this country is a joke and democracy is even bigger joke. By terming freedom of expression a joke, Karan made a mockery of himself.
It is because of the freedom of expression, which the constitution guarantees to every citizen of the country, Karan had the courage to say that our democracy is a joke. Very often, it is said that artists are emotional but Karan appeared ‘childish’ when he opined about democracy in this great country. The people who came to this planet with silver spoon in their mouth would not feel the essence of democracy. Ask those marginalized people who got the right to live with dignity. But one thing that needs to be underlined is that whenever any film or book nears its release, such celebrities try to create a controversy. They all know that the memory of the people in this country is short-lived so they take advantage of that.
It’s only when the biography of Karan Johar is nearing release, he realized that intolerance is rising in society and our democracy is a joke. Shah Rukh Khan felt intolerance just before the release of his film Dilwale. But, when a section of the people gave a call to boycott Shahrukh Khan’s film, then he started saying that this is not his film only, many people are related with this film. In fact, these film stars think that controversy is the formula of their instant success.
Actors sometimes feel like leaving this country but they always forget that this country and its people gave them immense love and affection. Their films made huge profit in this country only and people from all religion watched their movies without thinking of the actors religion. These stars created controversy for their benefit but what about those group of people who supported them in their bid to tarnish the image of the country. By supporting the controversial statements of the film stars about intolerence, these people badly damage the image of the country nationally and internationally.
Social fabric of this country is so strong that one Shah Rukh or one Aamir could not malign its image. A look at the history of Sahitya Akademi Awards exposes the so-called champions of secularism. In the history of six decades of Sahitya Akademi Awards, not a single Muslim or Dalit was given award for writing in Hindi. Last year, the award for Hindi was given to 92-year-old writer Ram Darash Mishra.
Constitution of Sahitya Akademi needs major changes with regard to awards, Changes are also required in the Sahitya Akademi constitution for filling the members of General Council. We are analyzing the credibility of the Marxists writers who entered into Sahitya Akademi in early 70s and got prominence after supporting emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi. Sahitya Akademi started honoring writers in 1955 and the first award for Hindi Literature was given to Makhan Lal Chaturvedi. And for the last 60 years, Academy did not find any Muslim and Dalit Writer, who writes in Hindi, for this prestigious award. This shows the communal face of the Sahitya Akademi.
It is good to hear that literature does not differentiate on basis of caste, creed and community. But when for a period of 6 decades if a community is kept at the fence, question arises about the motive. There is a long and distinguished list of Muslim writers who wrote and are still writing in Hindi. It is beyond doubt that their books are par excellence and loved by the readers too. Novelist Gulsher Khan Shani wrote a novel like Kala Jal, Rahi Masssom Raza wrote Aadha Gaon. Manzoor Ehtesham wrote Sukh Bargad but Sahitya Akademi did not found their novels fit for the award. In recent years Abdul Bismillah, Asagar Wazahat and Nasira Sharma wrote some masterpieces but they were not considered by the Sahitya Akademi. This can’t be a coincidence.
This is design by the Marxist writers who are at the helm of affairs at the Sahitya Akademi. Those were the days of tolerance and in those tolerant days no Muslim writers were awarded by Sahitya Akademi, it needs to be examined. In fact, the Marxist writers always posed themselves as the champions of secularism and pretended to fight for the Muslim cause but when time comes to recognize them they become the flag bearer of Marxism.
If we see the list of the coordinators of Hindi language in Sahitya Akademi, most of them were from the school of one thought that is Marxism. They rewarded those writers who came from the same ideology and sidelined those who opposed them. Year by year, comrades were rewarded. In the late eighties, casteism entered the Akademi and took control of Hindi Language. So, no Dalit writer was ever recognized. Now, time has come that questions should be asked about the exclusion of Shani, Raza, Manzoor Ehtesham, Abdul Bismillah, Nasira Sharma, Asgar Wajahat. This was happening in Sahitya Akademi in the time when Hindu writers like Gopichand Narang and Gulzar were given Akademi award for urdu.
In fact, Sahitya Akademi is a place where every possible ‘Saudebaazi’ happens. Once the serving President of Akademi Mr V N Tiwari was fighting for the post of convenor of Hindi. Another senior writer also wanted to contest. Some people came to the rescue of Mr Tiwari and made another writer agree to withdraw his candidature. He was promised Akademi award which was given to him. When awards are given on the basis of ideology, caste and religion, then how can it be expected that genuine writers are being chosen for the award. So, when they raise the question of rising intolerance, it becomes hollow.
(writer is a journalist working with IBN)