Joining the protests that fellow poets and writers have initiated over the past few months, veteran poet and literary critic K Satchidanandan, quit the Sahitya Akademi expressing his anguish over the Akademi’s failure to uphold freedom of expression and its lack of response over the murder of writers and intellectuals in the country
By Team FI
Veteran poet and literary critic K Satchidanandan has sent at letter resigning from all his positions at the Sahitya Akademi expressing his anguish over the lackadaisical response of the Sahitya Akademi over the murders and suppression of writers and intellectuals in the country.
K Satchidanandan minced no words stating that, “Holding a ritual condolence meeting in a regional office, as the Akademi seems to have done, is hardly an adequate response to the recent attacks on the freedom of expression followed by a series of murders of independent thinkers in different parts of the country. I am sorry to find that you think this is a political issue while to writers like me it is an issue of our basic freedom to live , think and write . Annihilation should never be allowed to replace argument that is the very essence of democracy.”
Here is the full text of the letter
Dear Sri V P Tiwari,
It is with intense pain that I am writing this letter to you. As you are aware I have had a close association with the Sahitya Akademi for almost four decades as a member of the Malayalam Advisory Board, Editor of its journal, Indian Literature, as its chief executive for a decade and later as a member of its General Council and Executive Board and the Convener of the English Advisory Board.
I was always proud of this unique institution conceived by great liberal minds like Jawaharlal Nehru and nurtured by several dreaming minds in the country. I did everything possible to uphold and safeguard its autonomy and to develop it as a national platform of dialogue for writers of all ideological persuasions from every part of India. I was happy that during my tenure as Secretary I could launch several platforms for women writers, dalit writers, tribal writers and young writers and extend the Akademi’s activities to languages not recognised by the Government of India and the Akademi, thus enlarging the scope and reach of the institution beyond its conventional beneficiaries and participants.
I was supported in my transformative endeavours by the many Presidents with whom I worked including the
great writer and thinker U R Ananthamurthy and had several moments of pride when the Akademi dared stand up against the Government of India when its moves went against the writers’ freedom of expression.
I had hoped that the Akademi would continue to uphold its liberal, open and democratic traditions. It was with this hope that I had sent you a letter with the draft of a resolution expressing anguished
concern at the dastardly murder of M M Kalburgi, a Sahitya Akademi Awardee and erstwhile Member, a rare scholar who edited several volumes of the Vachana literature in Kannada and an independent mind
that refused to tolerate bigotry of any kind. But to my great disillusionment my letter as a member of the Executive Board did not even receive a reply from the Akademi, let alone an active response.
I am sorry to observe that the Akademi has failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India that seems to be getting violated every day
in the country
Holding a ritual condolence meeting in a regional office, as the Akademi seems to have done, is hardly an adequate response to the recent attacks on the freedom of expression followed by a series of murders of independent thinkers in different parts of the country. I am sorry to find that you think this is a political issue while to writers like me it is an issue of our basic freedom to live , think and write. Annihilation should never be allowed to replace argument that is the very essence of democracy.
I thank the Akademi for all that it has given me in lieu of the many years of dedicated service I have given it; but as a concerned citizen and writer my conscience does not permit me to continue on its
General Council and its Executive Board. I hereby abdicate all my positions in the Sahitya Akademi including the Convenorship of the English Advisory Board and the membership of its several committees
like the Finance Committee, Grants Committee and Building Committee.
With warm personal regards,
Prof K. Satchidanandan