Comedy of Academy award returns

Some of the writers are returning the once given award to the Kendra Sahitya Academy as a revolt against the system. Some of them like- Nayanatara, Ashok Vajpai, Sara Josef, Rehman Abbas, Rahmat Tarikere, K. Virabhadrappa,  Aman Sethi, Gulam Nabi Khayal have already returned or at least have made a public statement on returning award. I quote sample of those statements here –

  1. There is a dreadful ambiance in this country though we are democratic secular nation. But, Sahitya Academy is not uttering even a single word in this connection. Emergency, Sikh massacre, demolition of Babri Masjid, terrorism in Punjab, violence in Nandi Gram, abolition of tribal people, naxalism, massacre of Gujarat- all these mishaps have disturbed the unity, brotherhood and social harmony in this country. Being the witnessing consciousness of the flowing time, I think it is the time to raise the voice. – Ashok Vajpai
  2. The problems which this nation facing presently are hazardous. This is the time worst than of emergency- Sara Joseph.
  3. The mishap of Dadri is inhuman and it makes the whole nation to lower her head in anguish and anger. Our PM has not yet made any statement in this regard. I should oppose this- Rehman Abbas.
  4. I oppose the deadly silence of the Academy on the issue of Kalburgi murder- Rahmat Tarikere

So, having seen the above mentioned statements, perhaps we can assort the award returners into four major groups-

  1. People who assume this nation to be full of turmoil, intolerance, and violence.
  2. People who are disgruntled because of the silence of PM and the Academy on Kalburgi’s case.
  3. People with great compassion towards Dadri.
  4. People who have accidentally recalled all the mishaps of the past- like massacre, murder, violence and etc- and shedding tears for the same at present.

Let us glance the first group- Is really our nation full of commotion presently? It is successful one and a half years of governance of Narendra Modi led NDA government at the centre. Some of the members of this group had propagated against Modi during Loksabha elections, assuming that the entire nation will become filthy because of massacres, if Modi comes to the power. A writer with Jnanapeetha award had made a statement of sensational emotion that “I do not want to live in the country if Modi comes to power”. The whole nation has seen these people-who had been enjoying the perks bestowed by congress and communist governments- moving on the roads with hand-bills and pamphlets during last loksabha election. Indeed their shelter of perks has been collapsed in Modi’s regime. They were at some posts in some autonomous wings of government and their transport with luxury through was taken care of by the government. But, in this changed situation present government turned it off, by asking the details of their work and expenses. This is the first and foremost reason behind this ‘returning drama’.

Next, the Kalburgi murder case. On an unfortunate day, renowned researcher Dr. M M Kalburgi was shot dead in Dharwad of Karnataka. C.I. D. which comes under state government is dealing with this case. One cannot deny the personal and family quarrels, as the reasons behind this murder, since Kalburgi was a common man like any human being in the society apart from his scholarship. It sounds really unfamiliar to expect the statements to be given from PM or the academy, while an investigation is ongoing by a governmental wing. Some people have already assimilated this murder along with two of murders in Maharashtra. If these people have conviction and the proof to prove some organization, group of people or any person to be guilty, why cannot they share it with police and rewarded with 5 lakh rupees? As the murder happened, very soon some of the Kannada writers managed to appear in TV channels and publically made allegation on particular group of people. Their list encapsulated the fundamentalists and Prime minister Modi too. This movement of writers creates a room for the suspicion that; the murder has been intentionally done to victimize the central govt! The investigation is executed by state government, and these people shout at the top their voice against central Govt. They cannot open their mouth against state government, since it is their ‘beloved’ congress govt.

Third is the issue of Dadri. The explanation given by intellectuals is- a Muslim was attacked and murdered brutally for eating beef in his home. But the report given by the U.P government to centre does not contain any mention of beef. According the local news papers- the victim was suspected by his society members including Muslims, for having illegal contacts with Pakistan, his visit to Pak, and his indulgence with anti national activities triggered this murder. However, the public should not have done it, disrespecting the judiciary. But, is it fair to use this murder to shout against the central government? Both central and state governments have home ministry and they do their job. What would be the reason to highlight this murder amongst hundreds of thousands of murders in this nation?

Fourth is- the hilarious act of returning the awards to protest against all the past mishaps throughout the history of this country. 5000 Sikh people were killed in a single day in New-Delhi while Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. The Kashmiri Pandiths who are the inhabitants of kasmir valleys were expelled forcefully. The then Prime Minister fired a bomb in Mizoram to kill people. Nelli massacre took place in Assam in 1983 which was the most horrible mishap in the history. Bhagalpur witnessed same sort of violence in 1989. The then Prime Minister managed to send off Mr. Warren Anderson, the key person of the Bhopal gas tragedy to his own country, within 4 hours after the tragedy. On top of all this, the terrible emergency was imposed on this democratic nation. All these tragedies happened in the congress regime itself. The pain, witnessing conscience, compassion, wrath and the anguish which was never seen in those moments is suddenly gotten up in some divine creatures- why? Even hypocrisy must have a limit!

All their statements and logics are ridiculous. That too, why these people are returning the awards? The president of Sahitya Academy, Mr. Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said “Academy is not a governmental wing; it is completely an autonomous body.  It is nonsensical act to return academy award to protest against the government. I suggest them to return Padma awards if they want”. Most of the people who are returning the awards presently are awarded after the emergency. They could have refused the award when it was announced, if they had had the real concern to this nation. What actually these people are going to indicate- having gotten the award along with amount of money, the allowances provided by the govt., the promotions due to the award- by returning award now?  Isn’t this similar to somebody returning his SSLC certificate after the successful completion of his government service as an ‘A’ grade officer?

Ashok Vajpai says “none of us are indulging in politics. We are apolitical people”. Nayanatara is the daughter of Nehru’s sister Vijay Laxmi Pandit, a lady who condemned and criticized the RSS and its wings as well as the BJP throughout her life and always in the part of Congress. She received the academy award only two years later the Sikh massacre! The same Nayanatara who claims herself as a descendent of Kashmiri Pandit clan, never made any comment when the government expelled the Pandiths from the valley. Perhaps it was her priority to not to make any statement in order to secure the award. The second among the intellectuals, Mr. Ashok Vajpai had worked as the president of Lalita Kala academy during U.P.A. for three years. Sara Joseph had contested as an election candidate in 2014 Lokasabha elections from AAP! But, still none of them are political persons!

Do not award!

While the rest of the nation is watching this drama of intellectuals and the writers of returning award, Karnataka is leading a movement to urge the academy to not to give the award! The common people of Karnataka are revolted against the announced list for academy award by Sahitya academy which contains the names of some anti social and irresponsible persons. A massive movement in change.org is already on to avoid the awards to ineligibles. More than 11,000 people have signed the petition till now. For anyone’s dismay, a person named K S Bhagavan who is nominated for the award is facing around 35 police complaints with two F.I.R. He might be the first criminal writer, having that many cases still not arrested. The announced list contains the name of Rahmath Tarikere, who has already returned the award given by Kendra Sahitya Academy in 2010. But, he is very much ready to receive the award of Karnataka Sahitay Academy! But remember, the Kalburgi murder happened in Karnataka; the investigation is headed by state government, and he has returned the Kendra Sahitya academy award to protest the slow progress of the investigation. And going to receive state Academy award!! How ridiculous is this shameless behavior of intellectuals of Karnataka! Like Rahmat Tarikere, another writer named Arwind Malgatti who resigned the membership of Kendra Sahitya academy in connection to Kalburgi murder issue, is facing one of the cases, and avoiding being arrested since last February. He is accused for abusing judiciary too. Another writer Candrasekhara Patil who quitted the academy is also facing the F.I.R. But only because of political power, these people are managing not to be behind bars. Intolerance, constitution, freedom of expression, fundamentalism, communalism, fascism- these are the samples of the words they often chant whenever they find dais, and press people.

Academy is also responsible.

It may sound bitter, but it is fact that academy is responsible to this drama of returning of awards. For instance, academy has no criteria to decide who can be given award. The registrar of the academy of Karnataka has admitted the absence of standers to select a person to the award, as a reply to our enquiry through R.T.I. He said that the name list is finalized in the meeting of all the members along with the president. One can easily assume the amount of hidden hands behind the screen in this selection. The fact is- reputed award from an autonomous body is shared and sold in this way. People who play politics rather than creating the literature manage to get this award easily. The persons who are returning the award now are of that category. These are publicity hungry people too. Their intention might be to be in news at least by returning the award, in this awful time of congress. There might be another intention to remind the public of their award. People are eagerly waiting whether these writers return simply the award or the money and allowances too.

The funny thing is, this returning drama has blossomed a smile on the faces of public instead of any grief. The so called writers whose plays run no more in the regime of BJP govt. have queued up before the academy to return the award as the rats coming out of their burrows pervaded by the smoke. It is a part of “Swaccha Bharath”. All the inappropriately issued awards are returning back to the treasury of the academy. We expect the academy to set up a standard for awards at least hereafter, so that common public can witness the genuine author being honored. The tendency to defame the award by returning it for their political interests and preconceptions must be eradicated.

Translated from Kannada by Naveen Gangotri.

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Rohith Chakrathirtha

Rohith Chakrathirtha


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