Why writers are returning their awards

What will you do when your job is threatened and you can no longer do your work freely that you have been enjoying for your whole life?
What if you are threatened of dire consequences just because you were doing your work the way you want to do it?
What if you cannot roam freely because of your vocation? Do you sit at home or change your vocation?
What if your views are disagreeable to others and that prevents you from doing your job properly, and sometimes even threaten your existence?

I am sure many of us can’t even imagine these situations because of the mediocre boring jobs that we are doing daily. Who will really threaten us with our life at our plush air conditioned offices? So what if I have pressure from my manager to do the task his way, I will obey his command. Worst case, I will leave my job and find another company where things are more creative and liberal.

But there are many others who are doing something different – writers, film makers, scientists, professors. These people are noticing the change in the society for past few years. I think these writers who are returning awards are concerned that if things continue the way they are, they won’t be able to write as they want, or make films as they like to. They would like to continue their vocation, their work, freely without any physical or mental pressure from the evil with no face.

Then there are social workers and activists who are still trying to bring social change by doing their bit, sometimes without the help of government. These activists are offered police protection when they receive threats. But why should someone not roam freely just because he is trying to bring a change in the society for the good.

I am not saying that these intellectuals or liberals are scared. They are only trying to protect their job. Everyone does. Chetan Bhagat says in this article that even politicians are defending their jobs. I think the writers, film makers, scientists, social workers are also defending their jobs by returning their awards.

They want their peers, groups, institutions, academies, society and the world to take notice of what is happening. They want to tell everyone that we cannot continue working if people like us are threatened or killed for our work. And it is obvious that they can’t change their vocation and do jobs in cubicles like others. Neither do they want to join the system, become politicians and become CM. Hence the only non-violent way to get everyone’s attention is to return the awards. They are returning the awards to defend their job, lives and most importantly, their belief.

And they have been successful till now in their efforts within a span of one month. Mahatma Gandhi said:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

I think we are now at the second stage in this whole turn of events. Writers, historians, professors, scientists, social workers are always the ignored profession in India. When few writers initially returned their awards, not many people from other side took notice. They laughed at them and tried to classify or categorize them into leftist, opposition, elitist, intellectuals, liberals etc. But now even Members of Parliament are taking notice of them and inviting them for a “constructive” discussion. Hope the best side wins!

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