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The “award-returning festival” : Why I support Anupam Kher’s , March For India

The “award-returning festival” : Why I support Anupam Kher’s , March For India

The “award-returning festival”, initiated by the so-called intellectuals and writers, is working out well. The latest to join the list was celebrated novelist Arundhati Roy. “I believe what artists and intellectuals are doing right now is unprecedented, and does not have a historical parallel. It is politics by other means. I am so proud to be part of it. And so ashamed of what is going on in this country today,” Roy lamented.

What many of the writers want to show the world is that India is passing through an age of intolerance, and there’s no freedom of speech here. And what’s the “inspiration” for such a movement? It is hatred for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The “villain” prime minister of India has all the “credentials” of a “fascist” ruler, unlike Stalin and Mao Zedong – the “heroes” of these intellectuals. The Congress has given the onus of attacking Modi to these intellectuals, and they are doing a fine job by exploiting every single instance of violence happening in the country.

Labelling India an intolerant society under Modi is the trump card for India’s grand old party and the Left Front to exist in the political ecosystem of the country. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi led a protest march against the rising intolerance in the country to Rashtrapati Bhavan on November 3. Sonia submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee and said, “Some organisations and people associated with the government or a part of Modiji’s government are trying to attack the plurality of the country and promoting intolerance.” Two days later, veteran actor Anupam Kher announced a counter “tolerance” march to take on Sonia.

“The march is scheduled for November 7. I will be joined by known artists, dancers and writers who feel they need to speak up against those maligning the image of the country. The march is being carried out because the perception of our country in the international forums is unnecessarily affected because of it being branded intolerant,” he said in a DailyO article. Team Kher would move from India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and submit an application to the President saying the country is very tolerant.

Is Kher right? You will get the answer if you just flip through some of the recent news reports that have appeared in international media. “By mid-October, 35 Indian authors and poets had returned their awards to India’s National Academy of Letters. Since then, Indian sociologists, scientists, filmmakers and more than 300 Indian artists have published public statements of concern and outrage. On the occasion of his 50th birthday on Monday, the film superstar Shah Rukh Khan spoke out against intolerance and warned, “We will never be a superpower if we are not going to believe that all religions are equal,” an editorial in the November 4, edition of the International New York Times pointed out. “Indian Writers Return Awards to Protest Government Silence on Violence” was the headline of a New York Times story on October 17.

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Here goes the title of a story that appeared on the Al Jazeera website on November 2 – “Indian Scholars Return Awards to Demand Free Speech”. All these are enough to brand India intolerant and a country without free speech. Everyone has the right to protest in a democratic country like India, but it should not be turned out into a negative movement to brand the country as one without free speech. As pointed out by Kher, people are active on social media to abuse the government and Modi without any issues. Hitherto, there have been no steps from the government that curtail the freedom of speech in the country.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.” A logical Indian can easily interpret these protests as the signs of intolerance by a group of Left-leaning intellectuals towards Modi.

Let’s strongly condemn the isolated incidents of violence in the name of religion. At the same time, let’s support the counter “tolerance” march for the sake of the country and declare loudly with pride, “We live in a very free state.”

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