‘Country’s democracy is inching towards a slow death’

Honour: Freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy presenting the first Gauri Lankesh National Award for Journalism to journalist Ravish Kumar in Bengaluru on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Instead of trying to change the languages of the people, the government should focus on changing the language of our “broken system” to strengthen democracy, journalist Ravish Kumar said after receiving the first Gauri Lankesh National Award for Journalism, conferred by the Gauri Lankesh Memorial Trust, here on Sunday. It was presented to him by freedom fighter H.S. Doreswamy.

“We are living in a time where [Nathuram] Godse is seen as a patriot and Gandhiji is seen as an extremist, and dissenters are made out to be enemies, anti-nationals, urban naxals, pro-Pakistanis. This shows that our country’s democracy is inching towards a slow death,” Mr. Kumar said.

‘Fooling people’

He also spoke about what many States say is the imposition of Hindi by the government, and cited the “deplorable” condition of Hindi-speaking States. “They are just fooling people. India was India much before Hindi came into existence. They fooled people even with Sanskrit,” he added.

Expressing his concern over the governing dispensation using a language to spread fear and hatred, Mr. Kumar said, “The Hindi of the present ruling class is not the Hindi of the masses. Their language is full of hatred, fear, brutality, and they use it to look down upon people.”

He criticised the media for failing to do its job. “Media is killing democracy, and when the owners and editors openly support the government on almost every issue, it is dangerous,” he said.

Teesta Setalvad, social activist and one of the jurors, said the award commemorated the values of democracy and fearless journalism. “In these dark times when truth has become a casualty and social justice a mockery, free and fearless media is the only way of hope to restore social sanity,” she said.

Delivering the first Gauri Lankesh Memorial Lecture, linguist Ganesh N. Devy expressed his fear over the current situation also affecting literature and freedom of expression. “Fascism today is a reality in the political order of the world. We are moving ahead backwards, towards the days and times of Hitler and Mussolini,” he said.

V.S. Sridhar, trustee of the Gauri Lankesh Memorial Trust, said Gauri Lankesh was the voice of the voiceless, and the voice of dissent for the betterment of democracy.

Three books, Neera Nade by Vinaya Okkunda, Dehali Nota by D. Umapathy, and Maatige Enu Kadime, a translation of Mr. Kumar’s The Free Voice by Harshakumar Kugwe, were released on the occasion.

The website was also unveiled at the function.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 2:48:56 PM |

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