“A dictatorship counts on the silence of those who disagree​. . .​”

Ritu Menon​, founder of Women Unlimited​ and co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first and oldest feminist press, ​speaks to Nayantara Sahgal, who​ has recently edited Nehru’s India: Essays on the Maker of the Nation ​for Speaking Tiger Books. ​Beginning from the assumption that culture and politics ​are inextricably linked, the discussion revolves around the growing relevance of Nehruvian secularism in the current climate of Hindutva majoritarianism. ​Sahgal remind​s us ​of the idea of India​: a nation​ where each and every religion has equal status. ​This idea, she says, is not only ​threatened but ​also ​​facing attack and assault. She calls this situation “an Indian version of ​fascism”. When asked by Menon if this is a state of undeclared Emergency, Sahgal answers that it is indeed an Emergency​;​ and certainly not undeclared. ​With the BJP ​in power, the operations of the RSS ​have shifted, Sahgal says, from covert backing to overt assertion​. In the light of these developments,​ Sahgal calls for more united ​action from progressive writers​, since a “dictatorship” counts on the silence of ​ those who disagree.