Protests and India have gone in unison since the British Raj. Recently, the country has witnessed numerous protests which are actually the voice of descent. During Modi government’s first term, there protests by farmers and adivasis. The whining of intellectuals with their ‘award wapsi’ campaign had also been a high point during that time. What followed was a series of murders and incidences of lynchings.
Battling For India: A Citizen’s Reader is a collection of articles, essays, interviews and poems by writers and intellectuals written during that period to address these concerns. The book is edited by Githa Hariharan and Salim Yusufji.
The book is divided into six parts that have essays by prominent authors of the likes of Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi, Shanta Gokhale, K Satchidanandan and Harsh Mander. Another highlight of the book is that it also includes the works of some of the lesser known who are the face of struggles in silence. The struggle is about their survival and about securing a space in the society.
The common point of all the essays is that they live in a crowded nation called India. Today, most of us seem to be tired of all its exclusiveness that has been constantly depleting. We are in search of people- regular people who will help us reconstruct the India that we consider to be our home.
Shanta Gokhale's essay, “Why are Writers dangerous?” speaks on the issue of the PIL created under the pretext of helping the powerless individual seek justice against the mighty State’ but of late has become a ‘way of gagging the writer and banning his or her work’.
Another article, extremely pertinent to our times, is Shashi Deshpande’s “Breaking the Silence” for silence is an ideal backdrop to an aggressive revolution. From the barbaric killings in the name of holy cows to Sabarimala and #MeToo, Deshpande categorically calls for breaking the silence as the beginning of a revolution.
Development of humanity cannot take place in the absence of religion. However, fanaticism is toxic for a country like India that is filled to the brim with democracy, pluralism and human rights, are swapped by enforced uniformity and criminalisation of those who do not conform.
Book: Battling for India: A Citizen’s Reader
Edited by: Githa Hariharan and Salim Yusufji
Publisher: Speaking Tiger
Pages: 500; Price: Rs 399