In an atmosphere where a poem about floating bodies in the Ganga is castigated as the work of a “literary Naxal” by the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi, the nervousness in the corridors of power about a tarnished image is understandable. The inclination of the litterateurs of an academy to echo an official line is also reflected by the observation of the joint head of media and publicity of the RSS, who saw in the pictures of the floating bodies an “agenda” of the government’s critics.
Ever since the BJP’s assumption of power in 2014, the party has shown its unwillingness to accept criticism. When some of the prominent personalities returned their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest against the government’s policies, their act was dubbed “manufactured dissent” by a Union minister.
The recent IT rules calling for the stationing of officials in the social media outlets to see whether they are following the rule of the land as interpreted by the government are in keeping with this intention of intimidating and muzzling opponents.
As is known, the government routinely calls them “anti-nationals” and books them under the colonial-era sedition laws.
It is also rude towards them as when a Union minister, who is a retired civil servant, called his former colleagues in the bureaucracy “padhe likhey moorkh” or educated fools for having written against the remodelling of the Central Vista in the heart of New Delhi. Will the minister use the same term to describe noted sculptor Anish Kapoor, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, scholar Gayatri Chakravarty-Spivak, the director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art Glenn Lowry and other celebrities for having criticized the “extravagant project”?