Hundreds of writers, theatre artists, scientists and filmmakers have issued appeals stressing that the coming elections are crucial for the future of our country, the spectre of fascism looms over the country, and appealing to the people of the country to vote against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason, vote out the BJP. Reproduced below are extracts from their appeals:
Statement by over 100 Filmmakers:
Our country is going through the most testing times ever. Though culturally vivid and geographically diverse, we have always stayed united. As a nation. It has indeed been a great feeling to be a citizen of this wonderful country.
But all that is at stake now.
Fascism threatens to strike us hard with all its might if we don’t choose wisely in the coming Lok Sabha election. Period.
As we all know, ever since the BJP came to power in 2014, things have changed. And only for the worse. A country polarised along religious lines isn’t the India we have known. Besides, the BJP and its allies have failed miserably in keeping their election promises. They are now using mob lynching and cow vigilantism to split the country communally. Marginalising Dalits and Muslims is the name of the game. They are spreading their hate campaigns with the help of the internet and social media. Patriotism is their trump card. Any individual or institution that raises the slightest dissent is labelled ‘anti-national’. ‘Patriotism’ is how they grow their vote bank. Let us not forget that some of our eminent writers and media persons lost their lives because they dared to dissent.
Romanticising and exploiting the armed forces is one of their strategies. Even at the risk of engaging the nation in an unnecessary war. There is unrelenting onslaught on the cultural and scientific institutions in the country. They mock the collective intelligence of the people by appointing persons with no relevance or experience as heads of these institutions, propagating unscientific and irrational beliefs even at international science seminars, making us the laughing stock of the entire world. Banning and censoring ‘works of art’, especially the most powerful of the lot—cinema and books—is their way of keeping the population away from the truth.
Farmers have been completely forgotten. In fact, the BJP has made the country the boardroom property of a handful of businessmen. Flawed economic policies that ended up as extreme disasters are covered up and made to look like successes. All with the help of false propaganda and marketing blitz. This has helped them to create a false optimism in the country.
Manipulation of statistics and history is another one of their fond projects. Giving them one more term in power will be a grave blunder. It could well be the last nail in the coffin for the biggest democracy in the world.
We urge all of you to do everything in your capacity to keep this harmful regime from coming back to power. Let your mandate be to choose a government that respects the Constitution of India, protects our freedom of speech and expression, and refrains from all kinds of censorship.
Yes, This is our last chance!
Appeal by more than 600 Theatre Artists:
Since colonial times, Indian theatre makers have celebrated India’s diversity through their work. We have done plays as part of the freedom struggle, we have taken on social ills through our art, we have stood for social equity and inclusion, we have struck a blow at patriarchy, brahmanism and caste oppression. Theatre makers in India have a long and proud tradition of standing against forces of religious sectarianism, chauvinism, narrowness and irrationality. We have spoken from the margins, we have spoken of the margins. With song and dance, with humour and pathos, with compelling human stories, we have, for over a hundred and fifty years, imagined a secular, democratic, inclusive and just India.
Today, that very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals.
The ways in which this hatred has seeped into our daily fabric are alarming and it has to STOP. . . .
We, theatre practitioners of India, appeal to the people of India to help safeguard the Constitution and our syncretic, secular ethos. We appeal to our fellow citizens to vote for love and compassion, for equality and social justice, and to defeat the forces of darkness and barbarism.
Our appeal—vote bigotry, hatred, and apathy out of power. Vote against the BJP and its allies. . . .
Appeal by more than 150 Scientists:
The upcoming election is a crucial one. It asks for a re-affirmation of the most fundamental guarantees our Constitution gives us . . .
An atmosphere in which scientists, activists and rationalists are hounded, harassed, intimidated, censored, jailed, or worse, murdered, is not the future our country deserves. It is not the future we want to give our youth. We want them to awaken to a country that sees science as a means of democratic empowerment through sceptical, open-minded questioning, rather than just a commercial enterprise. We must put an end to the denigration of rational, evidence-based public discourse; only then can we create better resources and opportunities for jobs, education and research.
We appeal to all citizens to vote . . . against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason. These are inimical to the values of our Constitution, whose promise is best reflected in Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s famous words:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.
Meher Engineer: A Requiem for a Man of Reckonable Height Meheryar Hosang Engineer was born on December 20, 1940 in