People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 45

November 11, 2012



Literature Festival Episode: Writers Stand by Karnad


The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), Progressive Writers Association and Janwadi Lekhak Sangh jointly issued the following statement from New Delhi, on November 5, 2012.


THIS is with reference to the unseemly controversy created during the Tata Literature Live festival in Mumbai. We stand by Girish Karnad, actor and playwright, and extend our solidarity. In condemning the Lifetime Achievement Award to V S Naipaul by the organisers of the Festival, Karnad has articulated in no unequivocal terms his condemnation of a writer who has consistently displayed a rabid antipathy towards the Indian Muslims. The “wound” in the title is the one inflicted on India by Babar’s invasion. Since the publication of his non-fiction book on India, A Wounded Civilisation, Naipaul has, as Karnad rightly pointed out ‘never missed a chance to accuse them (the Indian Muslims) of having savaged India for five centuries, brought, among other dreadful things, poverty into it, and destroyed glorious Indian culture.’


In questioning the conferment of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Karnad is not questioning Naipaul’s positions which are fairly well-known to most of us in India; he is in fact questioning the award. We take this opportunity to lend our voice to the questions raised by Karnad: ‘Do they (the festival organiser) mean to valorise Naipaul’s stand that Indian Muslims are raiders and marauders? Are they supporting his continued argument that Muslim buildings in India are monuments to rape and loot? Or are they by their silence suggesting that these views do not matter?’