Ban this. Ban that. Intimidate.
Scare. Browbeat. Disrupt Destroy.
We are living in deeply troubling times. The Republic
of Ideas, Dreams, Imagination, has been replaced by the Republic of Hate and Nightmares. Which is why it is important to address this missive directly to the
individual who is hell bent on pushing the hate envelope still further.
Dear Mr Intolerant – Disrupter
of Peace, I write this with
anguish in my heart. It took
just seven days and four nasty protests to establish
your credentials as the ultimate cultural rogue. Sadly,
the weakened (and wicked)
State has meekly surrendered
to your bullying and threats.
You have picked your targets
well. Ashish Nandy, Kamal
Haasan, Salman Rushdie and
Shah Rukh Khan.
High profile… but soft and
vulnerable. You decided to teach them a lesson. You
nearly succeeded. It happened
because we let it. Because we
went on the defensive. We explained ourselves strenuously provided alibis and excuses. But mainly because we surrendered. Too easily. Too soon. And allowed you to trample all over us.
Yes – it has become an Us Vs. Them siege. Why did we
back down so fast? There lies
the sad tale. It has to do with
several factors – all of them
valid. Age and frail health
(Ashish Nandy). Commerce and connected considerations
(Kamal Haasan). Heightened
sensitivity (SRK). Or plain
fatigue (Salman Rushdie ). It has come to such a ludicrous
point that soon creative communities across India will be forced to quietly shut shop.
And worse – shut up.
That is precisely what you want. The irony of this ghastly
situation isn’t lost on anyone. Check this out – most times, other angry mobs ( led by
people like you) are composed
of people who do not read,
write, draw, sing, act, paint or even think. Books are judged by a bunch of illiterate goons who may never have held one in their hands. Movies are condemned by those who have not watched the film they are demanding a ban on. Art is dismissed by philistines who have never stepped into a gallery. Speeches are damned by those who don’t know any language – except the language of abuse. In such a hostile atmosphere, artists, writers, painters, film makers, musicians and thinkers are pushed into a pen; threatened, gagged, brow beaten, intimidated.
They possess an independent mind. Why is Kamal Haasan threatening to quit India and seek exile in a more tolerant environment? Why is he compelled to convince his
muslim brothers that his
film is pro-Muslim? Why is Asish being dragged from one TV studio to the next asserting, “I have always been a champion of the Dalits?” Why should SRK have to play the martyr over and over again and wear his patriotism on his sleeve? Why is Rushdie still hunted and hounded?
Mr. Distrupter, you know the
answer. As of now, you are calling the shots in this on going battle for Freedom of the Mind. Your corrosive antipathy towards what is foolishly called the Liberal Threat, is winning the war so far. Intellectuals are crawling when they needn’t even stoop. Soon public platforms will be effortlessly hijacked by your types -narrow minded, vicious
people. Religious thugs
indulging in “cultural terrorism” to borrow Rushdie’s evocative words. You and your ilk, who are nothing but two paisa hire lings of local politicians, appear determined to exert control over carefully nurtured vote banks. That is precisely what has led to an outbreak of cultural goondagiri parading as moral policing.
People can see through such
humbug. What do you want to hear?
Hypocritical, gratuitous remarks?
Would it make things any better if our intellectuals were to start every public discourse with salutations like : “My Muslim brothers …my Dalit sisters…. my tribal children?” Your recent ‘triumphs’ should not give you false confidence. In
the prevailing chamcha culture
that defines political life, you may have succeeded in
terrorizing a few. But be aware …Indians always wake up as soon as the evil steps in the circle of honour of the nation.
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