We, the authors, often boast of reflecting the society and also claim to “guide” the society through our writings. Pre-indepedence produced many writers who actually guided and motivated the youth and the society to enter the struggle for independence. They suffered a lot at the hands of the then rulers who were foreigners. But after independence this genre of writers have been diminishing. Rarely do we see an author openly challenging the injustice perpetrated by the powers that be!
India, after 2014 change in ruling group, has been witnessing strange and illogical march towards medieval era. It has witnessed hateful intolerance increasing and being propagated by those in powers. Rule of law, which was never exemplary, has dipped further. Hateful speeches by the majority community leaders go unnoticed but simple observations by the people on the other side are exaggerated and punished! Our intellectuals have chosen to be “apolitical” and remain silent! Even when rationalists and human right champions are murdered by right wing votaries of the majority. The Pm who is so vocal on foreign lands has decided to give his tacit approval to all this by remaining silent. Even then our intellectuals have decided to remain “apolitical”and silent!
And then a minority community person is lynched by the mob on the suspicion of killing a cow and eating beef! Nobody has seen anything but the person is lynched by the cow bhagats – as if the human life is worthless in front of the life of an animal, even if ‘sacred’ for some!The PM again keeps his maun vart intact. Thankfully two of the celebrated authors (Nayantara Sehgal and Ashok Vajpayee) now decide to speak up against this medieval intolerance and return their coveted awards. But I notice that the Punjabi authors have maintained their stoic silence even after this outrage! I consider such silence intellectual dishonesty. No artist worth his name can remain silent under such inhuman treatment of the fellow citizens! Will someone of them rise to salvage the reputation of Punjabis for standing upright against atrocities committed against the helpless and weak people?
In this context I cannot resist the temptation to quote Edward Said who said: Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation of being balanced, objective, moderate; you hope to be asked back, to consult…For an intellectual these habits are corrupting par excellence.