Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sarah Joseph returns Sahitya Akademi award, satchidanandan quits all posts

THRISSUR: Malayalam writer Sarah Joseph has announced that she will return the Sahitya Akademi award, while noted poet K Satchidanandan resigned from all Akademi posts on Saturday.

Joseph, who won the prestigious honour for her novel 'Aalahayude Penmakkal' (Daughters of God the Father), said she would soon send the cash prize and plaque to the Akademi via courier.

This is the first time that a Malayalam writer has decided to return the Akademi honours to protest against the "communal policies" of the BJP-led NDA government.

"An alarming situation is being created in the country in all spheres of life after Modi government came into power. The religious harmony and secularism of the country is unprecedentedly under threat," she told PTI from Thrissur.

She said three writers had already been killed and K S Bhagwan was facing life threat from communal forces. But, the Centre had done nothing to alleviate the growing fear among writers and activists and people in other sections of the society, she said.

Sixty-eight-year-old Joseph, who spearheaded feminist writing in Malayalam, also felt what Jnanpith laureate U R Ananthamurthy had said years ago about the life of writers under the Modi government was "absolutely true".

"The visionary writer had actually predicted about the suppressed life which writers would have to live under Modi's rule. His words have become a reality now," she said.

Criticising Prime Minster Narendra Modi for his "delayed reaction" over the Dadri lynching, Joseph said the BJP government was even taking away the fundamental rights of people to choose their food.

"Our Prime Minister took nine days to react to the Dadri incident. His silence was scary and highly condemnable. In the backdrop of the recent hue and cry over beef consumption, I fear that even our right to choose food would be taken away from us," she said, adding that she hoped that other writers would also come out protesting against these policies through their creative works.

A recipient of Kerala Sahithya Akademi Award, Vayalar Award and Muttathu Varkey Award, Joseph is known for strong characterisation and socially relevant themes in her novels and short stories.

Though she was a strong supporter of Left ideologies, Joseph later joined AAP and contested unsuccessfully from Thrissur constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

In a statement Satchidanandan  said the Akademi had failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India. 

He also stated that he was exiting from the General Council,  Executive Board and the membership of its several committees.

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