Bangalore. “Intolerance is rising in India” – it seems that those who have taken an oath to repeat it on every day have now taken it upon themselves to prove it.
In a development that is as ironical as it can get, a group of writers identifying themselves as “liberals” and “tolerant” have forced the Founder Director of Bangalore Literature festival to disassociate himself from the festival because… wait for it… they couldn’t tolerate his views.
Vikram Sampath, an author, musician, and winner of Sahita Akademi’s ‘yuva puraskar’, today stepped down as the organizer of Bangalore Literature Festival after many writers threatened to boycott the event as he had earlier said that he didn’t subscribe to the ‘Award Wapsi’ campaign.
Apart from his views on ‘Award Wapsi’ – a bandwagon he didn’t join despite having a Sahitya Akademi award to his name – what irked this group of writers was his views on Tipu Sultan, where he refused to accept just one view, that of glorification of Tipu.
Unable to “tolerate” Vikram’s views on such issues, many left-leaning writers declared that they will not attend the Bangalore Literature Festival. Just like the ‘Award Wapsi’ campaign, these set of writers started a ‘Boycott Campaign’, putting pressure on Vikram to quit. And finally he quit today.
Explaining his decision to quit, Vikram said, “In the interest of the organization that I founded and nurtured, which is now being linked to my personal views and targeted, I have taken the painful decision of stepping away from all responsibility of organizing the Festival. Since the protesting writers had a problem with my presence and involvement with the festival rather than the festival’s nature and character – I am sure they would not have agreed to participate in the first place if it was the latter, I am hopeful that my withdrawing of involvement will now make them more comfortable with participating.”
“The festival and the ideals it has stood for are far greater than me or any individual – it would be a shame if because of me, differing views go unheard,” Vikram said, proving beyond doubt who was more tolerant and accommodative of differing views.
This incident has once more proved that the real intolerance on rise is of those people who somehow believe themselves to be tolerant, but can’t accommodate or tolerate a dissenting voice even for a second.
There has been a long history in India of left-leaning writers and activists of forming groups and unions and keeping those with differing views out of the system. People have to submit to the whims and fancies of the left, or give up on their careers.
Vikram Sampath has been forced to give up on organizing an event as of now. It will be interesting to see if this group finally succeeds in forcing him – a young writer and musician – to give up on his career.