‘Central govt keeps on projecting lies as truth’

Sahitya Akademi winning author Jayant Pawar has been a writer, critic and playwright for the past three decades. He spoke about how intellectuals can go beyond art and generate awareness among the masses against the ongoing situation of intolerance in the country in an interview with Chitra Sawant.
Q What would you like to say on blatant attacks being carried out on writers and students?
A: BJP considers the secular social fabric of this country as a major threat to its governance process. For them, there is no threat from the Islamic fundamentalists. Their idea is that if the secularists are controlled, then it is easy to control the minorities, Muslims and Christians. BJP wants to rule in the name of religion. We have people from different groups, sects, religions residing together in our country, and this is possible because of the principles of our Indian Constitution. Hindu culture is very vast there have been several sects, groups which were not following the Vedic-Hinduism.
There have been several cases in history that those following Vedic-Hinduism have tried to dominate the other sects or the non-followers. Dnyaneshwar and his entire family were stripped of their caste and ex-communicated by the Sanatan sect people who were following Vedic-Hinduism, because of his father’s return from sanyasa to family life. The family was harassed and humiliated to an extent that saint Dnyaneshwar’s parents committed suicide. Other saints of the Varkari movement like Chokhamela, and Tukaram were discriminated against by the same Sanatan sect people. There have been continuous efforts to bring this Vedic-Hinduism in the mainstream since past several centuries.
Q Why is the issue of nationalism being raised every now and then by the government?
A:  The ideology propagated by the right-wing parties of nationalism should be accepted by everyone and if someone challenges, it then it is sedition. The right-wing parties consider only those as their equal if the concerned person accepts their supremacy and follow their orders. It was Buddha who taught the principles of peace and non-violence to the world. He brought in vegetarianism which was adapted by the Vedic-Hindus. Ambedkar took Buddha’s principles further to liberate the oppressed.
Q Why is the NDA government being accused of bringing in censorship?
A: Majority of the Indian population is secular. As part of the celebrations of 125th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Gujarat Education Minister had ordered 4 lakh copies of small booklets on Dr Ambedkar for printing. On the last page of the booklet, the printer published the vows administered by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar to his followers at Diksha Bhoomi, which included ‘I shall not consider Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh as God nor shall I worship them, I shall not consider Ram and Krishna as God nor shall I worship them’. The Education Minister ordered to scrap the booklets since the published matter was against their ideology.
Q Kindly comment on the way media is being used today by the right-wing parties
A: The Modi government has been making false statements. They try to project whatever they want as truth. BJP keeps projecting lies as truth, they keep hammering lies. Truth is being fabricated and circulated across the country via social media. According to the police, a local BJP politician had uploaded a fake video clip that provoked mobs in Muzaffarnagar district. It has been revealed that the video was clearly shot in Sialkot, Pakistan but by the time the truth was out the damage was already done.
Q Why is the government neglecting the problems faced by the poor?
A Globalisation has benefited an emerging middle class. But people at the very bottom of the income ladder, as well as the lower-middle class have lost out. The middle-class got opportunities to raise their standard of living as they could earn good salaries. The poor are striving hard to live. In the past 10 years it has been assumed that development is the main issue concerning people. Infrastructure and communication facilities have increased which are vital aspects for sound functioning of an economy. We fail to understand that the infrastructural development is based on the labour of poor people, but they are left out in the process.

Is there a need to change our overall outlook of life?

A: Our world is becoming smaller, the concept of nuclear family is also changing. Earlier we had a phone which was used by the entire family, now we have cell phones, which are used by individuals, desktops are overtaken by laptops. Children don’t like interference by their parents. Our lives have become self-centred, we are in love with our selfies. This self-centredness is the root cause of the problems we are facing.
In this scenario, how can writers and intellectuals contribute positively?
A: Writers should come together and should try to reach out to the common man. I have taken initiative to form a group of artists, documentary filmmakers, writers, intellectuals and common people. It is a platform wherein these people converge and interact with the public on these issues. Artists should seek every opportunity to reach and talk about the lowest class, the oppressed class. We have to use art to create awareness, but ensure that it should not be propaganda or should not be superficial.