Tuesday, November 17, 2015
President Pranab Mukherjee has rightly said the awards should be cherished and valued by those who receive them. He has disapproved the returning of awards by a section of writers, artists and scientists over growing intolerance in the country. Those writers, artists and scientists who have returned their awards should know that this honour has been given by the nation, and not by any government. The nation has recognized their work, merit and contribution to the promotion of literature, arts and science and that is why they have been awarded. The growing intolerance is nothing to do with the returning of the awards. It is the failure of the government to contain it. Prime Narendra Modi has developed a habit of keeping quiet over the burning issue confronting the society. The way Iqlakh was lynched by a mob in Dadri is a stark example of intolerance. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not open his mouth on the tragic incident, and only referred President's statement to keep country's legacy of unity in diversity, secularism and tolerance intact to follow after 10 days during an election campaign in Bihar. It shows how lightly PM takes the issue, which directly linked to our country's valued principle. Undoubtedly, the growing intolerance is perceptible in every sphere of life under the dispensation of the govt. of the day. With the tacit support from a political section connected with the government, the voice of dissent is being crushed in the country. This may have angered the writers, artists and scientists and because of that they returned over the failure of the govt. to protect the voice of dissent in the country. President has rightly said that sensitive minds sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in society. But, expression of concern over such events should be balanced. Emotions should not overrun reason, and disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion. President advice to the returnees of awards is correct, but at the same time the govt. of the day has responsibility to look into why they did it. There must be appreciation and criticism with open mind. Prime Narendra Modi has not spoken a single word on the returning of awards over growing intolerance. His govt. has so far made no initiative to invite them for talks. Every problem can be solved through debate, discussion and talk. At least 75 writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists have returned prestigious awards to protest what they say is an attempt by right-wing organizations to muzzle free speech and individual rights, citing murder of rationalist MM Kalburgi, mob lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over rumours of beef consumption and murder of two Dalit children in Faridabad. The returning of awards has also come under criticism from within the intelligentsia. The feeling of the intelligentsia may have been hurt by growing intolerance which compelled them to return awards in hopeless situation created with the help of the powers that be. It is the responsibility of Narendra Modi govt. to look into the reasons and think why they are returning the awards. The returning of awards by the intelligentsia of the society is their disgust in the prevailing intolerant situation in the country. President Pranab Mukherjee's valued advice must be considered seriously by the intelligentsia so that there could now be no return of award.