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Initially, Hindi writer Uday Prakash was coerced to return his award and later, Nayantara Sehgal and Ashok Vajpeyi too followed suit to cover the whole process in a cloak of respectability. In total, around 40 writers and stage personalities returned their awards and four writers and poets 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.

These disgruntled litterateurs, poets and historians were followed by filmmakers across the country who too returned the prestigious awards to protest the perceived rising intolerance.

Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar also chimed in and said, “If I had the national award, I would have returned it.” So sorry Zoya but on account of the kinds of movies you make, that national award looks well-nigh impossible.

But just digressing for a moment, one pertinent point has to be made: How many Indians, barring a few, have heard of these elites? Except for one or two, most of them are anonymous and at best, has-beens.

Educated Indians were bewildered at this turn of events as they could not feel or see the intolerance which to these hoarsely shouting ‘eminents’ could be witnessed oozing out of Indians. But the entry of Nayantara Sehgal into this herd and Bihar elections, just around the corner, lifted the haze hanging around their motive and things started becoming crystal clear.

In fact, just the reverse was the case and these worthies were so furious with the rise of Narendra Modi and the BJP, that they themselves were showing signs of intolerance. This intolerance of theirs was borne of bigotry, narrowness and blind self-conceit. It resulted from dogmatism and a deep rooted belief that only one attitude, theirs, is right.

But they fail to understand that it is impossible for one to be tolerant if one is hide-bound and rigid in views or full of prejudices and no person cannot persuade others unless that person is, at the same time, ready to be persuaded by being reasonable because tolerance, as a social virtue, is opposed to dogmatism or dictatorship.

Award Wapsi Gang - Intolerance in india - hype or reaity
A cartoonist’s view – The Award Wapsi Gang

But this reaction of these so–called intellectuals gives rise to numerous questions regarding their motive. Why did these worthies display selective outrage and blamed the Central Government rather than the state governments as law and order is a state subject. At that time, U.P., Karnataka, Maharashtra etc. were ruled by non-BJP governments. Why did these writers not vent their ire on these state governments for their failures instead of  turning on the Central Government?

Where were these intellectuals when hundreds of communal riots, most recently in Muzaffarnagar, took place in India? Why did they look the other way when a state sponsored anti-Sikh pogrom took place in the capital of the country? Where was their secularism when Kashmiri Pandits were massacred by Pakistani terrorists and driven out of the valley?

Going earlier, where was their misplaced sense of justice when films like ‘Aandhi, ‘Nine Hours to Rama’ and ‘Kissa Kursi Ka’ were banned? Where was their freedom of speech and expression when ‘Satanic Verses’ was banned? Where was their selective outrage when one of their fraternity, Tasleema Nasreen, was hounded and finally banished in India? (She came back eventually, but that is another matter). Why did they turn their collective backs when scams and corruption scandals broke out during UPA regime, specifically UPA II, which were perpetrated by their political masters and their allies. What were they doing and why didn’t they protest? Why did they all maintain an eerie silence?

Also Read: Indian Judiciary To Share Blame For Scaring Away Foreign Investments

The answer, dear readers, is that they were not going to rock their boat and bite the hand that fed them. Long back, Abraham Lincoln said something and which goes like this,’ To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men’. This phrase is the shining crown on the heads of these intellectuals, these worthies.

It was expected of these intellectuals that they keep their mental balance and remain unbiased but they turned highly biased in their views and opinions and went on contributing to pseudo-secularism which is a failed concept in India. The Indian masses know it and there is no point in pursuing it. These intellectuals were used to Congress at the helm of affairs in India for nearly six decades and they profited immensely from it. And now, they are unable to adapt and adjust to present political dispensation and narrative which is massively dominated by Narendra Modi and the BJP. This is an attitude problem and only they can deal with it. They either change or sink with it as India is not going to wait for them.

Though tolerance is a virtue, it has its limits, beyond which, it becomes a social crime. But there can be no tolerance when the question of our fundamental principles comes up. Here, it becomes our moral duty to stand up for them and refuse any sort of skullduggery and compromise. We are morally beholden to never tolerate political and financial dishonesty, social wrongs, and moral corruption; we must never be complacent to attacks on our national integrity, fundamental rights and the forces of progress.

The Modi government at the center has obtained a historic, decisive and massive democratic mandate from the people of India, which cannot be trivialized as was done by this ‘Award Wapsi’ gang. This government needs to be given time to work for the development of India and earn its rightful place among the leading countries of the world. Its performance shall be judged by the people of India at the end of its term in 2019 and not by the whims and fancies of the self-appointed keepers of Indians’ morals.

Disclaimer: The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of N4M Media.

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