Thursday, October 29, 2015 8:45 pm
Indian filmmakers and scientists have joined a growing protest by intellectuals at what they call growing intolerance in the country.
Top molecular scientist Pushpa Bhargava returned his Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award, on Thursday.
“I fear we might lose our democracy, I would not like to live in a country that has lost its democracy and become a kind of theocratic state,’’ Bhargava told newsmen.
On Wednesday evening, a group of 10 film-makers also returned national awards, saying diversity and freedom of speech were threatened under the Hindu nationalist government of Premier Narendra Modi.
Over the past few weeks, dozens of writers have returned state awards to protest the killings of rationalist writers allegedly by Hindu radicals and the lynching of a Muslim man for reportedly eating beef.
Intellectuals blame the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for following an agenda to ensure predominance of Hindu culture, and forcing minorities, particularly Muslims, to accept that dominance.
Top government ministers have, however, described it a “manufactured rebellion’’ by left-leaning intellectuals who were recognised and given awards by previous governments.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier said “anti-BJP’’ and “anti-Modi’’ sections were “resorting to politics by other means’’.
“I had already called it manufactured rebellion, I stand by my phrase and think the events as they are unfolding only indicate that that kind of manufacturing is growing at a faster speed,’’ Jaitley said