Indian writers protest rising intolerance by returning awards
NEW DELHI (92 News) – In the past week, several award-winning Indian writers have raised the stakes of a political debate that is roiling their country, by returning the awards they received from the prestigious, publicly funded Sahitya Akademi, or the National Academy of Letters, and its provincial units.
In a spiraling cycle of protest, some writers are questioning the academy’s silence over the killing of an atheist scholar in August who spoke against idol worship.
At least 16 litterateurs have returned the prestigious Akademi award, while four have resigned elite posts of the organization.
Others are protesting what they describe as a rising climate of intolerance, citing the horrific killing of a Muslim man by a Hindu mob over false rumors that he had consumed beef. Too many Hindus, cows are sacred and eating beef is taboo.
Several elite writers and poets have also resigned their posts in the 20-member General Council of the country’s top literary body, saying that they were shocked at the level of intolerance on freedom of speech and expression.
“India’s culture of diversity and debate is now under vicious assault,” said Nayantara Sahgal, an 88-year-old writer who is also the niece of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. She received the award for her political novel “Rich Like Us” in 1986.