I am going to stress this aspect once again because it has happened in 2016 and the dissent or a specific group of people which have been targeting the current regime for being repressive, even under the new regime nothing has changed. The dissent has been there, and they were having their space which they had earlier.
So, coming to the things – why the dissent or the cry for dissent or repression is now hitting the headlines. So, to say, the intellectual cabal, or the leftists, whatever you can say, they were really flabbergasted by Narendra Modi’s victory. And what has happened in 2014 is phenomenal in the sense, it was for the first time, the center of right party has come to power with absolute majority. So, till then, most of the times, the center of left which has been ruling India. So, it didn’t make any much difference to this entire cabal. So they, and most of the dissenting voices actually so to speak had a kind of a personal hatred or enmity and also, they felt threatened. For the past six decades only one narrative used to dominate the political discourse or the cultural discourse. So, to say every aspect of the governance or the administration. So, it is like, quite puzzling in the sense, in a country of 1.3 billion, its unimaginable that there cant be any alternative narratives. But its so happened that for the past six decades only one narrative has dominated. And all other narratives, or the alternative narratives are scuttled and then they weren’t given their space or they were forcefully restrained even sometimes. So, that was the case and 2014 has been the watershed moment for India I should say.
And after that it so happened that within a year of Narendra Modi taking into power, this cabal felt rattled, in the sense, for the first time they were feeling the pressure of being checked. Because some of these intellectuals or the leftists, they were feeling the pressure of being checked in the sense that for the first time foreign funds are being scrutinized and they were not allowed to have the kind of freedom with which they used to get the funds from abroad. That was one reason, they were waiting for a chance like how to create a kind of confusion in the society. Even before Narendra Modi could take oath, media is flooded with so many opinion pieces and people warning them saying that country is going to go through dire circumstances and without even having an idea of how country is going to be administered. They have passed out blanket statements or sweeping judgement saying that there are going to be massive riots, there is going to be civil disorder in the society, law enforcement will be severely crippled and things like that. So that was the first alarm they have raised against this government. And after that it continued.
And I would like to say that, there were, actually three rounds of dissent. The first one I could say is in 2015, which started with the Award Wapsi Movement. The Award Wapsi Movement, I should say, it was spearheaded by Nayantara Sehgal, niece of late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It is so surprising, being a Kashmiri, she was never offended by the genocide against the Kashmiris. The Kashmiris were driven away from their places and then they are made to fled away. But nothing has affected her, and she has received Sahitya Academy award in 1986 and then just two years before, the Sikhs were massacred in the national capital region. But that hasn’t even affected her. And going back little further, even during emergency, around 4.4 million people were sterilized. Even that couldn’t really affect the conscience of these artists or writers or film producers who at once declared that country is going through the most intolerant phase or this is the most intolerant regime in the independent India. So around, 50 people have returned that Sahitya academy awards saying that the government is repressive and its fascist and then their conscience doesn’t permit them to have this kind of an award. But surprisingly none of them have given back their financial incentives or perks from the government, none of them have resigned, so to say. That has been the case. And the cabal, for the first time had a kind of a success with this kind of movement or the ripples which they have created across the nation. Their voices were noticed, even these things are being highlighted across national and international media. There were debates held, wide range of debates were held, discussing whether India is really at the danger of slipping into an authoritative regime and things like that. But nothing of that sort has ever happened and since then they have been targeting each and every incident. They have been randomly choosing and picking up incidents that would choose their narrative.
So immediately after September 2015, the first thing they have picked up was they targeted Maharashtra state government for imposing meat ban for 8 days. And this has been happening for a long time, from the congress days. But never there has been hue or cry about this issue. And this 8 day meat ban is to honor the sentiments of Jains. That is with regard to the thing where, it is like an 8 day regime of intense prayer, repentance and reflection. So, honoring those sentiments of Jains, Maharashtra government has been following that. This was immediately followed by a kind of a protest in IIT Madras where they raised voices against, rather they have come down heavily on ministry of human resources for banning them from having Ambedkar Periyar group in the campus. And after that it just continued. They have targeted random aspects, in the sense, incidents where Dalits have been the victims or Muslims have been victims and that has been a selective outrage. They have continued that selective outrage which, again it has reached to a crescendo in January 26th with the suicide of Rohit Vemula, where they alleged that this has been a Dalit repression.
I had to stress on this issue once again because, a 20 year old Abhishek, a Hindu boy, who has also committed suicide in Sringeri at the same time, received no mention anywhere. Its like only the selective instances like people have been trying to project. So that has been one of the instance. And after that, right after January, again in the national capital region, they have targeted Sri Sri for conducting this world cultural festival on banks of Yamuna saying that its going to have a very serious effect on the eco system, on the river ecosystem. But months after the conference, the foundation had successfully proved that nothing has been affected. But what reminds is to say that their outrage, their angst with government has been so selective. That has been always to foster their narrative, or to present that they have been facing that kind of a repression and things have changed in the present system.