Former union minister and well known author Shashi Tharoor on Thursday lauded writers who returned their awards saying he valued their conviction and courage to stand up to a growing concern but personally he felt that returning awards was an “act of dishonoring the recognition”.
Talking to the Hindustan Times he said since he was not given the Sahitya Akademi award he did not have a locus standi to comment on the subject. He said fight must be fought valiantly but not by dishonouring a recognition.
“I strongly support and admire the values, convictions and courage of the writers who have stood for freedom of expression by returning their awards. But still I regret this method of protest since the award is recognition by an independent body of intellectual, literary, creative or academic merit and should not be confused with the political issues of the day,” he said adding one should oppose the present climate and fight but should not dishonor recognitions in the process.
“I feel writers have every right to stand up and protest because they know the pulse of the society and nation very well. The present climate warrants this also. But personally I feel returning award amounts to dishonoring the recognition,” he said.
“In fact Sahitya Akademi is an independent body and the present concerns are political one in nature. We need not confuse these two. Once should stand for freedom but should not dishonour an award,” he said adding awards were tributes and they can’t be either rolled back or rejected. He said if Akademi has committed any wrong these writers should pressurize the body to correct it. Many well known Malayalam writers like M T Vasudevan Nair and Paul Zacharia have not returned their awards but it doesn’t mean they aren’t committed to freedom of speech, he said.
Much to the embarrassment of the party the diplomat-turned politician had taken contrary views on many occasions. He had criticized the frequent disruption of parliament and also took up PM Modi’s challenge on ‘Swacch Bharat’ campaign. This time also Congress state unit distanced from him saying it was his personal views.