Following the spate of resignations from the executive committee (EC) of the Sahitya Akademi, and writers across the country returning their awards conferred by it, the Akademi has decided to convene a meeting of the EC on October 23. This was confirmed to The Hindu by Kannada writer and critic Narahalli Balasubramanya, an EC member from the State. He was among those who impressed upon President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari and Secretary K. Sreenivasarao to convene the meeting in the light of increasing resentment over the alleged “silence” of the Akademi to growing communal violence.
Mr. Balasubramanya believes writers should fight the system from within rather than stepping out of it. “I want the Akademi to take the lead in protecting the freedom of expression of writers and intellectuals. Instead of keeping quiet, the Akademi has to stand up for them… I am neither in favour of resigning nor returning the award. I’m also not against it. I am in favour of a constructive fight against the situation of intolerance and making the Akademi active, if it is lax,” he said.
Mr. Balasubramanya, who had convened a meeting of writers and intellectuals immediately after the murder of scholar M.M. Kalburgi in Dharwad, asked why the Akademi could not meet and discuss issues, when it was being done at the regional chapter.
He said the Akademi should make a stand when writers’ freedom of expression is being curtailed through violent means. The very purpose of the Akademi would get defeated if it is not prepared to stand for the writers’ conscience, he said. However, differing with those resigning from membership or returning awards, Mr. Balasubramanya said: “I don’t understand the reason for their resentment. Are they upset with the Union government’s apathy in containing divisive forces, or with the Akademi’s silence in not making any statement on the threat to freedom of expression?” On writers returning the awards to the State government, he said the Karnataka government was doing enough to trace the culprits of Kalburgi’s murder.