Literary meet resolves to ‘reject religious nationalism’

Published - September 03, 2018 01:07 am IST - Bengaluru

 Writers, including Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha, Geeta Hariharan, and K. Marulasiddappa, at the inauguration of the Literary Meet for Tolerance, in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Writers, including Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha, Geeta Hariharan, and K. Marulasiddappa, at the inauguration of the Literary Meet for Tolerance, in Bengaluru on Sunday.

The Literary Meet for Tolerance held here on Sunday — in the backdrop of the murders of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi and the recent arrests of human rights activists across the country — emerged as a platform for the participants to strategise ways to counter “right-wing hate spreading fast in society”.

The meet was organised by Dakshinayana, an organisation of writers that was formed in 2015 after Kalburgi was murdered, and Gram Seva Sangha, led by theatre person and activist Prasanna, as part of an ongoing weeklong protest.

Action plan

Describing the crisis facing the nation as “nothing short of an existential threat to the civilisation itself”, Supreme Court advocate and leader of Swaraj Abhiyan Prashant Bhushan suggested a three-point action plan. The first includes identifying fake, hateful, and violence-promoting messages on social media, tracking their source, lodging complaints, and fighting them legally. This requires a band of committed advocates in every district, said Mr. Bhushan.

The second strategy highlighted the need for an organised team to spread awareness on the positive message and benefits of a multi-religious and multi-cultural society. As the third strategy, it was suggested that a man or peace committees be formed in every district and taluk. Committee members would be secular citizens who would flag communal hatred spreading in their area, and promote more interaction between communities.

Writer Arun Joladakudligi and several other participants were critical of liberal activities being limited to urban centres, and their failure to attract youth. “Right-wing organisations have systematically reached the youth in villages and are indoctrinating them through simple religious programmes such as Hanuman Jayanti, widespread celebration of which is not a native practice,” he said.

He suggested that the Save Our Constitution campaign, which a group of activists had launched during the recent Assembly elections in Karnataka, was the best platform to reach the youth in villages.

Writer Girish Karnad said that “from talking about ‘Lanchavatara’ (corruption) we had now come to talk about ‘Lynchavatara’ (lynchings)” . He said the arrests of activists show that the government does not care. They were in the mindset of “what I want I say”, he said, and added that there was a need to keep protesting consciously to oppose it.

Historian Ramachandra Guha came down heavily on the arrests of activists. He said the allegations against some of the activists by the Pune police indicate that they could write fantasy crime novels.

Several prominent Kannada writers, including Chandrashekar Patil, and K. Marulasiddappa, and linguist G.N. Devy participated in the meet.


The resolutions adopted at the meet also indicated a shift in strategy, especially on secularism and nationalism. On secularism, the meet resolved: “We do not separate religion and politics. Nor do we yoke together the priestly class and crony capitalism to create extremist religious politics. We are neither pseudo-secularists nor pseudo-religionists. We believe that moderate religion and gram swaraj should be welded. We believe God is a socialist and saints social activists.” On nationalism, the meet resolved: “Like Bhagat Singh, we are both patriots and citizens of the world. We reject religious nationalism”.

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