“We appeal to all citizens of conscience to join us”

November 1, 2015

Through this open letter, we address everyone, from the President of India to the child who has just learnt to read and discover the world around her.

Many of us writers have spoken up, in one way or the other, whenever our country has been at a point of crisis. But in recent times, we have seen an assault on certain facets of our day-to-day living, from attacks on the scientific temper to physical and often fatal attacks on citizens.

In response, over the last few weeks, several writers returned awards and resigned from their positions in the Sahitya Akademi; or issued statements of protest about the encouragement to intolerance which will have an adverse effect on our polity as well as on the relationship between castes and communities. Our concerns involve more than any one institution such as the Sahitya Akademi. The all-pervasive concern is with safeguarding the constitutional rights of each and every citizen to live as she chooses. This, we see, is being violated every day with old divisions such as caste becoming deeper and more violent; with new divisions being created to shrink the space for discussion and debate; with educational, cultural and other institutions being weakened further by censorship and fear of debate; and worst of all, the idea of India – the idea our freedom fighters envisioned – being distorted into a homogenous India, with its diversity torn apart.

We will continue to express our concerns in as many ways as we can, and in as many voices as possible. We appeal to all citizens of conscience to join us and keep our idea of a plural, tolerant, diverse and argumentative India alive.

Yours sincerely,

1. Adil Jussawalla
2. Ajmer Aulakh
3. Ananya Guha
4. Anil Joshi
5. Arup Kumar Dutta
6. Ashok Vajpeyi
7. Atamjit Singh
8. Baldev Sadaknama
9. Bina Sarkar Ellias
10. Chaman Lal
11. Dalip Kaur Tiwana
12. Damodar Mauzo
13. Darshan Buttar
14. Datta Naik
15. Easterine Kire
16. Ganesh Devy
17. Githa Hariharan
18. Gurbachan Singh Bhullar
19. Jaswinder
20. K. Satchidanandan
21. Keki Daruwalla
22. Krishna Sobti
23. Kum Veerabhadrappa
24. Mandakranta Sen
25. Mangalesh Dabral
26. Manmohan
27. Mitra Phukan
28. Mohan Bhandari
29. Nayantara Sahgal
30. Pargat Singh Satauj
31. Patricia Mukhim
32. Pradnya Pawar
33. Rahman Abbas
34. Rajesh Joshi
35. Sara Joseph
36. Shashi Deshpande
37. Subha
38. Surjit Patar
39. Uday Prakash
40. Waryam Sandhu
41. Xonzoi Barbora