In a conference in Guwahati, the BRAHMAPUTRA LITERARY FESTIVAL
Good organization, good venue, lots of people, students, writers, poets – and this beautiful Assamese touch, that has managed to retain its Indian-ness and can be often seen in its women.
The inauguration was also first-class – except that the speeches by the Minister of Culture Gov Assam, CM, organizers etc lasted for nearly two hours!! Only the speech of Prakash Javadekar the HRD Union Minister, was lively short and to the point… But by that time, everybody was bored and people were not even listening anymore. Why can’t Indians understand that this a Nehruvian format and that all these pompous long and boring inaugurations have to be done with!
Then we broke in sessions and that was a far cry from the glittering inauguration. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal left the venue with a caravan of 20 cars, with his security jostling the crowd, without a thought. Mr Sonawal is a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) man – why does he have to follow this @indiancongress VVIP old pattern? Contrast this with Mr Prakash Javadekar, who is ever courteous, mingles with the crowd and does not use his status as a Union Minister to push himself around?
There was hardly a crowd of 30 for our panel, no water and proper organization. The subject was ‘The Word and Public Space’, which was a good one. I spoke about the need to go back to silence, the crowding of the Public Space, the tools that India has offered to writers and journalists to go back to silence for a better intuition, such as meditation, pranayama, hata-yoga, being careful, as there was a Muslim Bangladeshi writer in the panel, to say that breath has no religion and that anybody, whatever his or her religion, could practice it.
I was surprised to be attacked quite virulently by the next speaker, Sanjoy Hazarika, whom I discovered afterwards, is Director: Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia university Delhi. Not only that, but Sanjoy went on to politicize the whole panel discussions, speaking about the persecution of Rohingya Muslims, the mass killings by police in Assam, the innocent who are languishing in Indian prisons… But not a word of course about how Hindus have been killed and chased out of Bangladesh for decades! Obviously, the target of Hazarika was @narendramodi, whom he seems to hate. But virulent journalists like that are often not that courageous themselves. I was pissed at the guy and challenged him to come outside the hall once the session was over.. Which he didn’t
What hurts me is that I do no harm in defending Hindus: I am not hateful, I am not nasty, I don’t preach violence, but I am branded by people like Hazarika like an untouchable, as if I carry the plague, or I am more dangerous than terrorists who kill innocent people by the thousands in the name of a Medieval and cruel Scripture. You would be surprised that westerners who I am helping at the moment as many are facing visa problems, in Auroville-Pondicherry, think the same of me.
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