To be honest, I do admire Chetan Bhagat for having the intelligence and wisdom of creating a loyal fan base with his books. The best thing about Chetan Bhagat fans is that they’re young and hence will stay with him until they grow old. It’s called “Catching them Young”. If he keeps writing for Young people, he will have a constant supply of loyal fans.
But that doesn’t mean everything that Chetan Bhagat says is beyond any contest. Just like many among us, he also makes mistakes and puts misplaced logic for objectivity.
Only yesterday, he saw politics behind the returning of Literary awards. He may have his own reasons for the observation, but even when there may be some politics going on there, it doesn’t seem necessary for any writer or poet to return a Literary Award. The Question is: Why will anyone return an award, already bestowed him/her?
Some years ago, in a Television interview, Chetan Bhagat told the interviewer about how he comes from an Institution (IIT), where anyone who uses complicated words or sophisticated language, is booed on (means an act of showing displeasure for someone or something). That way he was trying to answer all the critics who found the English prose used in his books, not up to the mark.
As you see, I also don’t write perfect English. But that doesn’t make perfection any lessor. The English language writers who’re writing English in its purest form, can’t be made fun of, simply because he/she is writing sophisticated or complicated. When Chetan Bhagat says someone using complicated words in IITs is snubbed down; then he instinctively conveys that an IITian need not bother about the critics who are giving too much importance to language. What Chetan Bhagat showed that day was a kind of elitism, which is disguised.
It would have been better if Mr. Bhagat had defended his language on the ground that his readers can’t understand difficult prose. And that would be quite logical : As it’s good to keep in mind, who you’re writing for.
Finally returning to the ‘Politics of returning the Awards’.
Rather than seeing politics here, Chetan Bhagat should see the polarity in views.
Those writers and poets, who’re returning the awards, are those who want a liberal India, where there’s no place for intolerance. As, the moment one allows intolerance to seep in, that too in violent forms, then there’s no end to it. Intolerant people can’t wait for the debate, they simply want to crush the voice. At first the intolerance begins with real targets; but very soon it starts to percolate to every sphere, real or imaginary, where there’s a difference of view. To answer this question: One can see moral policing, road rage, arson or any instances of might is right (in other words survival of the fittest) as the examples.
Finally, for those who question : Why the same literary people, such as Ashok Vajpayi, Nayantara Sehgal and a dozen others, didn’t return Awards, when Salman Rushdie was barred from Jaipur Literary Festival?
Simply because a mob killing a rationalist or a human being eating beef, can’t be clubbed together with a writer stopped from attending a literary fest. Can they?
One more thing. Some people are saying that the awards being returned are not Government recognition. Alright, they may not be!… but here the question is about perception.
The perception which is made by — What people perceive about a certain Award? What recognition the award brings to the recipient? What recognition the award brings to the recipient among his/her peers? And finally who attends and awards such trophies to the recipients?
The Institutions such as Lalit Kala Akademi, Sahitya Kala Akademi etc. may not be Government bodies; but they surely convey strong messages to the society. The way Nobel Prize does, which is also a mere Swedish Corporate Entity.
Hence, saying some award is not a Government recognition, is a mere attempt to derail the entire debate. Which in the present times is : What lessons the society can learn from the literary people returning awards. As those who’re not paying any heed to literary people returning awards, will not pay any heed to someone returning any Padma Award.