SHASHI DESHPANDE AT
GOA ARTS & LIT FEST
>> All those who want a Hindu state must think of the consequences of establishing it
>> A country in which some citizens live in fear is a failed state
Author Shashi Deshpande on Thursday expressed hope that Indians would reject the Hindutva idea
of a "Hindu nation" in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, even as she lamented that the ruling party and Opposition at the Center would use the Ram temple in Ayodhaya as a bait for votes.
"The promises being made now of a quick resolution of the Ram janmabhoomi issue in favour of Hindus, of course, the construction of a Ram Mandir, of a great statue of Ram in Ayodhya- making him a symbol for the entire country- makes it clear that Hindutva, which was thrown down in the 2014 elections in favour of development and progress, is to be a major issue in the upcoming elections. Sadly, the Congress has jumped onto the bandwagon," said Deshpande in her keynote address titled "Not so Equal" at the formal inaugural of the Goa Arts and Literature Festival (GALF) at Maquinez Palace.
Deshpande spoke of the polarization of the nation that took place during the 2014 elections, where she said there was so much bitterness between friends and family. "There was no mid-way. The general understanding was that if you're not with us, you're against us," she said, as she questioned whether the nation would continue to be divided by the most dangerous division: religion.
And the award winning author, who returned her Sahitya Akademi award in 2015 in protest of the Akademi's silence over the murder of another awardee, all urged those in favour of a Hindu state to rethink their stand. "All those who want a Hindu state must think of the consequences of establishing it," she urged. "A country in which some citizens live in fear is a failed state," stressed Deshpande, as she reminded those present of the post-partition (India-Pakistan) violence and carnage.
While pondering about whether India would become a Hindu nation, the author spoke of Article 14 of the Indian constitution which promises equality to all citizens, and questioned whether in the near future, Article 14 would apply only to some citizens and not to all.
Meanwhile, Deshpande also recalled the Sabarimala Temple situation and said she was "mystified" that women were participating in the discrimination of women. As for the men, she said, "I suspect the men are imposing their misogyny on God." On a positive note, she lauded the #MeToo movement in India and said she was pleased that shame had gone to where it belonged: the perpetrator of the wrong.