Writers are a minority community. And the way they protest are different from the ways of Aam Admi. Writers need not hit streets, shout slogans or stop traffic to show they are protesting. They can do through their writing (Pen is mightier than sword) and by returning the awards they received.
Writers returning their awards to Sahitya Akademi poses a question. Is Akademi responsible for what Govt. is supposed to do? What kind of an influence Akademi will have on Govt.? Akademi is a link between the writers and the Govt. and is not a platform for solving the disagreements. But writers using the same media to express their dissatisfaction may harm the interests of Akademi. At the end of the day, the fight is between writers and the PM. And the issue is religious intolerance and Govt.’stand on it. Though PM broke his silence on the matter, writers are not happy with his statements.
The issue of religious or ideological intolerance is nothing new. And writers returning awards is nothing new too. Khushwant Singh had done it. Tagore had done it too protesting the incident of Jallianwala Bagh. India had learnt its every lesson and emerged stronger every time. This time too it would come out stronger but the tide might upturn few before it settles.
Writers (if not all, most) are sensitive beings. They sense the change in air and feel the pain quite early. They are the leading indicators of the big change underway. Voltaire to Karl Marx sensed the changes quite early, the social revolutions they predicted did not fail to materialize. Though it took time build the momentum and the larger society to take part in it. British banning Anandmath worked only against them. A Chinese king trying to bury the works of Confuscius were not successful, you know who lasted long. Writers or their works are broad representation of the society, though they are ahead of time many a times. Burning the libraries or neglecting the writers has not worked well for those in power in the history.
Ruling party is not dumb to know this. But they might have overlooked the situation and underestimated the impact. Parties win and lose elections. But society makes their choice. Going by history and wisdom, writers though they are a very minuscule community of voters, are at the forefront of the society. What writers want will be be demanded by the larger society too later. Writers are indicators of what lies ahead. Like the wind before the storm. Wind has already arrived. Is storm building up? It is all speculation, for now.
Will the Govt. care? If not, they will pay the price.