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‘Suffocating environment prevails in literary and intellectual world’

By October 18, 2018No Comments

Source : The Hindu

Critic speaks up at seminar on recent literary trends in Kannada literature

KALABURAGI : Pointing to the increasing trend of intolerance to dissent in society, Kannada writer and literary critic Rahamat Tarikere held that verbal and physical attacks unleashed against the all those who expressed difference of opinions or held ideological positions that were different from or contrary to the majoritarian ones had created a kind of suffocating environment in the Kannada literary and cultural world, obstructing the free flow of thoughts. He said that the intellectuals were made to think twice before speaking their minds or writing something that might contradict the popular view and attract the wrath of certain sections.

He was delivering the keynote address at a seminar on recent literary trends in Kannada literature, at Gulbarga University here on Tuesday. The event was organised by Karnataka Sahitya Academy and Department of Kannada, Gulbarga University.

“Kannada intellectual sphere has a rich tradition of healthy public debate. We have seen how the different and contradictory thoughts bitterly contended to enrich the public knowledge. Shamba Joshi, one of the great Kannada writers and cultural critics, could freely express his critical views on Gita. The public contention of views between Kuvempu and Masti [Masti Venkatesha Iyengar], the stalwarts of Kannada literary world, is well-known to everybody. Similar was Lankesh’s bitter literary debates with his contemporary writers and intellectuals. These meaningful debates enriched the public knowledge and shaped Kannada literary conscience. However, we don’t have such a healthy atmosphere to have a meaningful debate these days. There is a systematic attempt to silence the dissent by force. We are in a fear of not returning home safely if we speak our minds,” he said and added that India was fast moving towards the most anti-intellectual regime and Kannada literature was losing its capabilities of rational, sensible and independent thinking as nobody was ready to speak his or her mind that might prove to be fatal.

Pointing out how social media platforms like Facebook had opened new opportunities to large sections of people and encouraged them to write and express themselves, Mr. Tarikere said that the technology has created a new generation of writers who were greatly contributing to the enrichment of Kannada literature.

“We need not consider only those writings in hitherto known forms such as poetry, prose, plays and epics as literature. In my opinion, everything that enhances the readers’ knowledge, including a good piece of reader’s letter published in a newspaper, should be considered as literature. With social media platforms like Facebook reaching out to the majority of the population, many people from different walks of life have started writing. Farmers, students, agricultural scientists, transgenders, doctors and other sections of people are creating beautiful literature. The teacher-centric literature has vanished these days and we should be happy for that as it has made the literature prosperous,” he said.

He also drew attention on the flipside of social media and expressed serious concerns over the way that the public debate was touching new lows and the public opinion was being manufactured in favour of hate and murder. “It is strange to see that those who have not read a single page of scholarly essays written by M.M. Kalburgi or a single editorial written by journalist Gauri Lankesh comment on the integrity of the authors… The sad thing is that a public opinion justifying the murders of intellectuals is being manufactured, especially through charged debates in social media platforms,” he said.

Literary scholar Aravinda Malagatti inaugurated the event. H.T. Pothe, Gulbarga University’s Kannada department head, Shivaganga Rumma and Vikram Visaji, Kannada professors at the Central University of Karnataka, and other scholars were present.

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