Sunday, 11 October 2015

An open letter to the Chairperson, Sahitya Academy

 Dear Mr. Tewari,

I have also decided to give back my award to the Academy.

Whatever is happening in the country is really very painful. It is not the first time that parochial ideologies and the narrowness of certain groups have come out to challenge the pluralistic fibre of this country, the foundation of which was laid down by saints like Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur by sacrificing their lives. We have seen the congress Govt. of the time playing havoc in Delhi and other major cities of India after the murder of Mrs Indira Gandhi. We know, for sure, that there were elements within the ruling party that supported the violence and unashamedly continued to shield the culprits.

But Mr.Tewari !  It certainly is the first time when a large section of establishment, by keeping mum or issuing politically correct statements, seems to be justifying the violence against the minorities and the intellectuals whose ideas are not in tune with them. I am not here to support the sayings of slain writer Kalburgi, but I am certainly bothered that in a democratic country like ours a writer of national recognition can be killed for his ideas and the Chairperson of the Academy of letters need to have the permission of his organisation to openly come out and aggressively condemn such incidents! Surprisingly the Academy is content with a customary condolence resolution. Actually it is more hurting because a Chairperson is nominated because of his writings; he should remain a writer first. I am surprised that you have chosen to act only as Chairperson and not as a writer; which actually is the basis of your position.

You think that the writers are politicising the issue by returning their awards. I am not sure, but it could be true in some cases. If you are politicising the situation by keeping quiet, they are doing so at least by their deeds. But let me tell you I don’t have any sort of link with any political party. Nobody has approached me to take this step. In fact your statements are the basis of my decision. I wish to convey to you and to my countrymen that the communal harmony of this country is of vital importance and if somebody is vitiating this harmony the solution is not in killing them. Killing invites more killings. Mr. Tewari! As a writer you are fully aware that this message is very important and I have chosen to convey this through my ‘deed’. My plays stand for the cherished values of multiculturalism and, in my humble opinion, instead of proactively contributing to these tenets; you have chosen to give sermons to the writers. You are correct in saying that Academy is an autonomous body but painfully it has failed in acting as one; please recognise this fact.

You have, sarcastically, asked the writers how they will pay back the goodwill earned by them because their works have been translated into other languages and have been published by the Academy. Please stop your office from publishing my awarded book into any language and let me know how can I return the favour of translating my play in to Hindi. Interestingly, the play is on communal harmony and against the politics of hatred. You have also suggested that the writers should find some other way of lodging their protest. Agreed, I will try to write yet another play on the subject.``

My decision to give back the award is not only against the inaction of Govt. it is also against the actions of those who don’t wish to see India as a model country. The decision of returning the award is also against the insensitivities of the officials of Sahitya Academy.

I am sending back the check worth Rs.1 Lac that was given to me with the award and also making a request to you that please don’t give me any royalty on the sale of my play.

Best Regards,


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