New Delhi: Bemoaning the evaporating spirit of India’s secular, socialist and democratic Constitution, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan while returning his national award has warned that the country was at a crossroads and on the verge of becoming a fascist state.
“Today this spirit is evaporating. Our nation is at a crossroads. On one side is the secular path that our freedom fighters laid out for us and on the other, the path towards majoritarian fascism that the present regime seems bent upon. I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable,” Patwardhan wrote in an article published in Scroll.in.
The filmmaker opined that it was the duty of all thinking citizens to speak out before it was too late and that filmmakers were thinking citizens who could not look away.
When the government attempted to foist unqualified saffron administrators on the FTII, students there went on strike. The strike has lasted an unprecedented four months. In this period, people from all walks of life began to wake up to the unmistakable reality that the India they knew was on a dangerous new path, he wrote.
I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable.
The killing of rationalists, the hounding of whistleblowers like Teesta Setalvad and Sanjiv Bhatt, the denial of justice to victims of religious pogroms and caste based massacres, the emboldening of the religio-lunatic fringe and the impunity of those who kill or advocate killing in the name of religion is accompanied by the wholesale rewriting of history, the denial of scientific enquiry and the consequent production of a generation of dumbed down consumers for whom having an enemy to hate replaces their thirst for knowledge.
“So it is with a heavy heart I am returning my very first National award for Bombay Our City.”
He recalled back in 1985 even as he won this award the homes of people he had filmed were demolished. Patwardhan did not go to receive the award. Instead, Vimal Dinkar Hedau, whose home in Bandra had been demolished, went to Delhi to receive this award and distributed leaflets about the cause of the homeless. The prize money went to the slum dwellers movement.
“Today I am returning the medal. What do we want from this government? Not much. Just its resignation. Will that happen anytime soon? Not likely. What do we want from the people of India? Not much. Just eternal vigilance.”