Writers becoming more impotent: Shashi Deshpande

Renowned wr-iter Shashi Deshpande, who resigned from the council of the Sahitya Akademi’s governing board on Friday expressing her disappointment with the literary body’s failure to protest the murder of Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi in particular, shared her views with Ramzauva Chhakchhuak of Deccan Herald in Bengaluru.

Here are the excerpts.

DH: You resigned from your post in the Akademi protesting its silence on Kalburgi’s death. However, don't you think a stronger message would have been sent if you had returned the Padmashree award?

Deshpande: Returning an award creates a lot of drama. In my opinion, it does not mean anything. The award was given to me for my book and by writers. More than an award from the government, it was an award from the country.

What do you think writers should do in an atmosphere of intolerance?

Each individual has his own means of expression. As writers, we need to show our support for any other writer who gets harassed and is troubled.

In a media interview, the Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari has said his silence on the issue was because he got no direction from the Executive Board and that through major incidents in India’s history such as the Emergency, it had always been silent? What do you think of his statement?

I think a lot of writers would have been troubled. Writers have to be apolitical.
However,  I don’t think you can remain silent after such an incident.
It would have made a lot of difference if the Akademi had spoken.
It’s one of the biggest institutions in the country.

How do you plan to take your protest forward?

One speaks when there is need. As a writer, I will go on writing. However, as writers, we are becoming more helpless and impotent. Where is the platform for us to speak? It is a most troubling thing.

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