ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Political Production of Shock Absorbers

The failure to engage with a legitimate critique places limits on the assertion of the freedom of expression.


The inability of the organisers of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan—the literary meet scheduled on 11 January in Yavatmal, Maharashtra—to defend their own decision to invite Nayantara Sahgal for inaugurating their 92nd annual meet has been widely condemned and criticised by many, literary personalities prominent among them. However, such a decision—which is deeply disturbing not just for Sahgal, but for all those who have a stake in democratic values such as freedom of expression—gives rise to three questions. First, the decision to withdraw the invitation certainly involves the loss of self-respect, but is this a loss for the invitee or the host? Second, what implication does this kind of about-turn have for the moral calibre of those who are directly or indirectly responsible for such a decision? Finally, would such a decision succeed in diminishing the essence of self-respect of the defenders of democratic values, such as the freedom of expression of thought?

The resignation of the secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal (the organiser) goes to prove that he has been humiliated or his self-respect has been diminished. The question that one has to raise is: Why should anyone, including the secretary in question, participate in one’s own humiliation? Much more importantly, why should the ruling political power force anyone into an experience of humiliation? In response to the last question, it could be argued that some members from the organising committee of the meet tend to offer themselves to play the role of shock absorbers, as it works towards the realisation of their political as well as professional ambitions and aspirations. It is due to this compulsion of ambition that the organisers prepared themselves to absorb the shock of scathing public criticism that resulted from the unilateral decision to withdraw the invitation. In addition to this, the organisers also absorbed the pressure from the ruling power in the state.

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Updated On : 29th Jan, 2019
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