Friday, January 30, 2015

Progressive Writers' Association comes out in support of Perumal Murugan

 Progressive Writers' Association (PWA), known for its revolutionary thoughts and belief in socialist practices, again raised their voice for renowned writer Perumal Murugan and expressed their view in defense of the writer and his right to expression in the Novel “Madhorubhagan” in a symposium organised by Prof. S. N. Malakar in School for International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University on 24 January 2015.

The Symposium was enriched by Intellectuals, Writers, Cartoonists,  Academicians of different disciplines etc. The panel gathered together to express their support for the author Perumal Murugan for his progressive writing. The panel discussed the issue of “Freedom of Expression under Attack” in the recent time. The barbaric attacks against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo has left the world stunned. Acclaimed Indian novelist Perumal Murugan announced his death after getting threats and protests by rightwing Hindu and caste groups prompted by his book about a woman’s efforts to conceive with a stranger through a religious ritual.

Life of artists, intellectuals, thinkers and writers all over the world are under threat. Even in this technologically so called modern world, we are still not free to express our views. Prof. S. N. Malakar welcomed the intellectual gathering of about scholars, authors and intellectuals. He welcomed all the people, esteemed panelist and the organisers and handed over the floor to the Chair of the Symposium Prof. Ali Jawed, (General Secretary, PWA). Mr. Anil Chamadia, a renowned journalist conducted this symposium. Mr. Mithilesh Priyadarshi Ph.D. Scholar in center for media studies JNU spelled out the objective of the symposium.

Mr.Anil Chamadia welcomed the entire panelist and began the session with the first speaker Prof. V. Sujatha, Chairperson, Center for Social System, CSS, JNU. Prof. V. Sujatha enlightened the audience by giving a detailed description of the novel ‘Madhorubhagan’. She explained the story of Kali and Ponna, land-owning farmers in Thiruchengode, who enjoy a completely happy marriage but without any offspring. The couple is in too much love but stigmatized often by the people around. Further, the story explains about a festival in rural Tamil Nadu in which any married woman who don’t have children can attend the festival and choose any partner to cohabit and if she conceives that child is called as ‘Gift of God.’

The novel has been labelled as anti-Hindu by some Hindu extremists. Over the past week, some protesters called for the arrest of the author, while others burned the books and demanded its ban. Prof. V. Sujatha called the scenario at this moment as scary, and fears that authors life is under threat and freedom of speech and expression is under serious attack in the hand of few politically and economically rich entrepreneur’s and politicians. Nobody from this particular community is ready to speak out. There is no alternative voice to rescue.

The session moved forward with the next speaker Prof. Purushottam Agrawal, a noted
academician. He said that this issue is not an exceptional one and should be seen as a continuation of such instigated incidents by those who want to benefit from this situation. He explained how the Freedom of Speech is under threat and no single individual is able to raise their voice. He urged the audience to take the issue outside the seminar hall and reach to the people. He explicated the importance of Freedom of Expression for everyone, and described ‘Expression’ as a set structure of belief and ideology. He expressed his belief that Freedom of expression can be ensured only in a democratic structure, and by complete denial of moral policing.

The third speaker of the symposium was Prof. Ira Bhaskar, Dean of School of Arts and
Aesthetics in JNU and former member of Censor Board.  Prof. Bhaskar recently resigned from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) along with other 13 members. Prof. Bhaskar talked about her recent resignation from CBFC and explained the corrupt working procedure of the organisation. She explained how the Film makers are not able to express their views and imagination freely as the majority of the members in the CBFC panels are from strong political background, and they act more as an obstacle in the normal proceedings of the Board. She expressed in her statement that that law and order problems are always created and do not deteriorates on its own. She also conveyed that moral policing should be destabilizing, and unanimously we all must democratically uphold a resolution, which will be the collective voice of the organisation like this.

Next speaker Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University discussed the issue from a different
perspective. He said that caste in the community is the major reason for such upsurges and with time this system became more rigorous and in the environment they can become more dangerous if it is not dealt now, with strict action. He also added that in this complex structure of society, Line of Order is a big challenge. No absolute benchmark for freedom of expression does create such hindrances in the society and becomes a threat for the creative minds.

Next speaker was famous cartoonist Asim Trivedi. He also brought another aspect on the platform. He argued, that we discuss Freedom of Expression and its restriction, but very rarely we discuss when and freedom of expression is needed. He urged the audience and the members in the Dias to bring the issue for discussion and debate. He also called the audience look back into the Constitution of Indian a look at the Article 19(2), which provides restriction on Freedom of expression and stops us from expressing anything which hurts other. However, he argued that when somebody is weak, and we have to raise voice for them, we tend to hurt the other to prove our freedom of speech and expression. Thus, Freedom of Speech and expression is important for change.

Prof. Deepak Kumar, Center for Zakir Hussain Studies, JNU was the next speaker who talked about the scientific temper. He focused on scientific temper as the key to defend Freedom of expression better. He conveyed that Freedom is not absolute, nor the freedom of expression; and it can be understood only through reasoning, logic and evidence. He further also discussed that India missed the scientific revolution, and industrial revolution, and still follows the religious structure illogically without thinking from brain. This is high time for reasoning and to raise question why and how, rather than following the wave blindly. Reasoning helps us to understand the situation better and also protects our freedom of expression.

Dr.Ajit KanaAssociate Professor, centerfor French and Francophone Studies JNU in defence of the writer PerumalMurgan said, that the death announcement of self by the author was not a coward step, but a strategy used by the brave author to make it a mass movement for freedom of expression. Right wing political parties BJP and BSP not only creating problem for the author but their reach is beyond that as they are also creating problem for the publishers. He expressed his anger on the law and order structure, as in the recent past we have noticed that any up rise leading to a ban on book, films etc. He felt the law and order department just needs an excuse for banning anything. He also discussed the issue of self censorship of the artists, writers, filmmakers etc. This idea has been imbibed within. Nation as a whole has become intolerant, and there is a need to challenge the hegemonic ideas imposed by highly influential higher class of people in the society. PerumalMurgan has expressed his view and it is an important political statement.  Prof.Kanan also asked the floor to pass a resolution to send to Perumal in solidarity.

Dr.Sanjay, SecretaryJanwadiLekhakSangh, was the next speaker. In his remarks he mentioned that these days people does not need reason to fight and protest, they came up often without having any strong ideas or ideology. It has also been observed that most of the times it is the people with strong muscle power protesting against the ideological structure and protests against the academicians, cultural structures etc. He further said that these kinds of people are on the rise because of their muscle power and therefore this kind of writing should also come up to express our ideology and challenge the radical society. Radical wings are scared and left behind in this ideological war, therefore they use muscle power. It is high time to come with resolution.

Famous author Noor Zaheer, President, IPTA Delhi State statements are example of fearlessness and optimism. In the symposium she expressed her solidarity for the writer PerumalMurugan, and saidcensorship is created by religion, and religion is politics. Very concept of religion is politics, which propagates certain beliefs. She also affirmed that religion is a structure by a man, and there is a need to attack on religion. Writers, painter, actor ,and many other creative people are frequently attacked in the name of religion, in the name of certain belief and radical fundamentalist wants us to leave the ground and run away. But this is the time to stay strong and support each other and stand in unity expressing our ideas, and come up with more writings, more plays, and make people more aware.


Next speaker was cartoonist Gopal who works in a Hindi National Newspaper. He encapsulated his brief life history in which he explain how during his bachelors period in Patna Art college his cartoons and miniature painting raised controversy as he made the miniature replica of Kamasutra painting. Rightwing force campaigned against his work and called his work obscene, and further he was not allowed to complete his degree further. He further explains that he feels guilty for taking salary without contributing from his organisation, as none of his cartoons gets approved, as his cartoons precisely critiques the establishment, and right wings. But most of the time he does not get logical explanation for the rejection of his work. Further, after fleeing away from Patna and for continuing his work he still gets threat calls and hate mails. Gopal ended his remarks by leaving behind a question, how he can continue his freedom of expression and also can contribute for his organisation.

The last speaker of the symposium was Prof. Ali Javed, he said we all should ignore all
fundamentalist. Science and technology has advanced but our thinking has shrinked, he added. He also mentioned how the scientific temper has reduced. He further mentions, only few people have the opportunity to study in universities and this opportunity should be used positively, to make the society more progressive and responsible, and save the society by saving and supporting writers like Perumal Murugan.He also remarks everybody have the right to express oneself, and everyone have the right to choose their heaven or hell, and its individual choice. Nobody can force you to join you in his or her journey.

Thereafter, Interaction session started. Audience put their views, queries, comments and questions. Among them were Vivek from United Dalit Students Forum (UDSF), Dr Ameshwar Nayak, Assistant Professor Delhi University, Deepak Bhaskar, Assistant Professor, Delhi University, Rahila Parween, Ph. D. Scholar, CAS/SIS, JNU, Chinmay from Birsa Ambedkar Phule Student Association (BAPSA), Sonam Jha , Research Scolar CAS/SIS, JNU, Munni Bharti, Ph. D. Scholar, CIL/SL, JNU and many others.On behalf of PWA, Arun Oraon Ph. D. Scholar, CIPS/SIS, JNU expressed his gratitude to Speakers and the audience. He also expressed his special thanks to Prof. S. N. Malakar to organize this event, which is prompt response to the cause of Freedom of expression. The gathering expressed their unanimous solidarity for the writer Perumal Murugan and passed a resolution to support him.

Debjani Naskar, Ph. D. Scholar,
 CAS/SIS, JNU

1 comment: