There must be cultural exchange between countries, no restriction on movement of artistes across the globe: Shripal Sabnishttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/there-must-be-cultural-exchange-between-countries-no-restriction-on-movement-of-artistes-across-the-globe-shripal-sabnis/

There must be cultural exchange between countries, no restriction on movement of artistes across the globe: Shripal Sabnis

At the Idea Exchange at the Express office in Pune, Shripal Sabnis, president of the 89th Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan, whose anti-PM remarks created controversy a fortnight ago, once again spoke his mind — batting for freedom of speech.

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Shripal Sabnis at the Idea Exchange in Indian Express Office. Sandeep Daundkar

MANOJ MORE: We want to begin with asking you to elaborate on your alleged anti-PM remarks before the start of the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan.

I had said that I differ from Modi who was Gujarat chief minister and Modi who is the prime minister. Modi as prime minister has a vision for development, a vision of developed Hindutva. He has combined the philosophy of Gandhi and Buddha for world peace. He has devoted himself to the nation. He is a patriot to the core.MANOJ MORE : What do you think Modi did wrong in Gujarat ?

MANOJ MORE : What do you think Modi did wrong in Gujarat ?

Modi failed to protect the lives of Muslim population and also failed to win their confidence. There has been no punishment. He has received clean chit from the apex court but the blot remains. He had to face prosecution. I am not alleging that Modi was behind Gujarat carnage, but he as the then chief minister of the state, had failed to protect the lives of Muslims. Whatever I am saying today, has already been said by BJP’s senior leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Vajpayee clearly said that Raj Dharma was not followed in Gujarat in the aftermath of Godhra riots.

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Modi failed to protect the lives of Muslim population and also failed to win their confidence. There has been no punishment. He has received clean chit from the apex court but the blot remains. He had to face prosecution. I am not alleging that Modi was behind Gujarat carnage, but he as the then chief minister of the state, had failed to protect the lives of Muslims. Whatever I am saying today, has already been said by BJP’s senior leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Vajpayee clearly said that Raj Dharma was not followed in Gujarat in the aftermath of Godhra riots. MANOJ MORE: Do you think Modi as chief minister should have apologised to the Muslim community ?

MANOJ MORE: Do you think Modi as chief minister should have apologised to the Muslim community ?

You cannot force anybody to apologise….it has to come from within. May be, by doing so it could have threatened his political existence or his party’s Hindu vote bank could have been affected.

ANURADHA MASCARENHAS: And what do you think of Modi post 2002 riots?

“There has been a ‘parivartan’ in Modi. He is carrying his development model across the world. Whether it was on global warming or terrorism, Modi has a vision for development. He is trying to ensure peace for humanity. His priority is to ensure India’s security. He has accepted the challenges of ensuring peace worldwide.

MANOJ MORE: What kind of development has he brought in?

Modi has brought in the development model – a model which is far better than the that of “Golwalkar model”, “Savarkar model and “Deoras model” of RSS. But the model is not faultless. In the backdrop of the Hyderabad incident, the Dalits of India are still looking with suspicion at the “Gandhi-Buddha” model, which Modi is carrying worldwide. In view of what happened in Hyderabad where a Dalit youth was forced to commit suicide and a BJP minister is under scanner, it is clear that the Dalits in India are looking with suspicion at Modi’s parading of Buddha model worldwide.ATIKH RASHID: You are welcoming the ‘social media literature’, but don’t you think the writings are too shallow to be called ‘literature’ ?

ATIKH RASHID: You are welcoming the ‘social media literature’, but don’t you think the writings are too shallow to be called ‘literature’ ?

These are ephemeral while the literature has to stand the test of time. I firmly believe that the social media is one important avenue to bring in ‘cultural democracy’ in the country. For political democracy to succeed in any country, it’s important to establish and foster cultural and economic democracy. Today, the social media platform is being used by youngsters to react to things that matter. If someone does something wrong, these people give him a good battering. Yes, it’s true that sometimes the language used on it is obscene and full of hatred. However, it can’t be denied that social media is giving a platform to weaker sections like dalits, adivasis to express themselves. It’s a good sign. It won’t keep the literature confined to the brahmanical, elite circle.

PARTHA SARATHI BISWAS: During the sahitya sammelan speech, you also spoke about the growing Nathuram tendencies in the country ?

Whether it was the murder of rationalists like Dabholkar, Pansare or Kalburgi or assassination of Mahatama Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, they all highlight the intolerance in the country. But this intolerance has been present during the regime of all the governments in the country.

PARTHA SARATHI BISWAS: What do you make of the bid to construct temple in the name of Nathuram Godse ?

Godse was a murderer. He had killed the Mahatma…if they are going to construct a temple in the name of a murderer, then there will be temples across the country in honour of murderers.This is dangerous for the democracy.

ALIFIYA KHAN : Your take on “cultural terrorism” practiced by certain quarters in the country ?

My view is that there should cultural exchange not only between Indian and Pakistan, but between all the countries. There should be no restrictions on the movements of artistes from country to country.

GARIMA MISHRA: Recently a number of litterateurs had returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards. Do you think they were right in doing so or was it a political move?

I don’t think there was any politics involved in all this. But at the same time, I feel that they should have ideally had a dialogue with the government before returning the awards. After all, it is the society (including writers) who have elected the government. If the dialogue don’t yield any result then they should have resorted to this. Besides, I also feel that the writers have a very powerful tool with them – their pen. As a responsible citizen, they should try to bring about change in the society through their writings.AASHAY KHANDEKAR: You invited Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well as NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on the dais. In the past, former Chief Minister Yashwantrao Chavan had chosen to stay away from the stage. Do you support political interference in a festival of litterateurs?

AASHAY KHANDEKAR: You invited Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well as NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on the dais. In the past, former Chief Minister Yashwantrao Chavan had chosen to stay away from the stage. Do you support political interference in a festival of litterateurs?

I don’t support political interference in literature. But I do support the presence of politicians in such programmes. It is an elitist and supremacist thought that politicians should stay away from Sahitya Sammelan. Nowadays, the litterateurs are not only from one particular section of society, they’re not elitists. They are farmers, Dalits and adivasis. I’m the first president who asked the politicians from the dais to establish a Green Tribunal for the betterment of farmers. No litterateur has made such demand earlier. If politics isn’t incorporated in our literature, how will the new litterateurs learn what they are lacking? Keeping politics away has cost us many Nobels.

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SUSHANT KULKARNI: There is vibrant and ever-growing stream of literature in Marathi, which is writings on the Internet. Do you think, it has a representation on a platform like Sahitya Sammelan?
I believe that this stream of writing is the new people’s literature. There are no boundaries to the expression on the internet. These writings truly have the potential of going beyond the geographical limits and to break free from the traditions. But we need to be a little more careful as this medium is fast and there are probable chances of messages being misinterpreted.