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Trending in India: #InkAttack, Shiv Sena & Akademi award

Intolerance; sadly this is the latest trend in India as coercion and threats become the language of communication. The week began with images of BJP leader Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face being blackened with ink for “daring” to organise the launch of former Pakistan foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri’s book. Mr Kulkarni was organising the book launch on behalf of Observer Research Foundation. Amidst hooliganism by Shiv Sena and tight security, Mr Kasuri’s book was released last Monday with Mr Kulkarni refusing to wash off the ink as a mark of protest. The Sena is known for attacking and obstructing normal life in Maharashtra for grabbing attention but what was peculiar was the State Government’s response to this incident that came just days after the right wing party managed to get singer Ghulam Ali’s concert cancelled.

Another impact of this atmosphere of intolerance engulfing India is the trend of eminent writers returning their Sahitya Akademi awards. A trend that began on September 4 with Hindi writer Uday Prakash returning his award has now seen over 25 reputed writers follow suit. While the trigger to return their awards might have been different for these writers but the broad reason for protest has been their feeling that the right to dissent in India is under vicious attack. These writers’ have accused the Akademi of failing to speak up against the Government.

On the other hand the reaction from the Government has gone from bizarre to arrogant. While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has smelled conspiracy in this saying that this is a “manufactured rebellion”, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma almost dared writers to stop writing! Writers hold a mirror to the society; a symbolic protest is enough to mirror the feeling of outrage of the intellectuals against the Mod-Government. Perhaps it would be prudent for Modi and his men to shake off the smugness and pay more attention.

What is the fastest way to trend in India? Ask ML Khattar, the Chief Minister of Haryana. And his answer would be his unbeatable record of making insensitive statements. His foot-in-mouth disease has only got worse with age and the latest from him is that Muslims can live in India only if they stop eating beef. The Central Government which is already under fire from various quarters for failing to check the spread of communalism, could do without people like Khattar and Mahesh Sharma in their ranks.

Well, this has been a gloomy week, a look at what’s trending and you know what I mean. Even man’s eternal fountain of pleasure and glee, Playboy has decided to desert them in these hard, difficult times. This week the magazine announced that from March 2016 it will not feature nudity. For a magazine built by pornographic content this decision has been harsh on its loyal readers. While the true lovers of porn can always turn to the internet, the big question is what forced Playboy to make this decision. As they say in India, “The Nation wants to know”!

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