Sahitya Aaj Tak: Award wapsi campaign succeeded in its mission, says poet Ashok Vajpeyi

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The move by artistes to return their awards was successful. The writers succeeded in their aim of highlighting the issue of intolerance in our society through award wapsi.

Renowned Hindi poet and former administrator Ashok Vajpeyi said these today while speaking in the session Kavita Aaj Kal on the second day of the ongoing three-day Sahitya Aaj Tak programme in New Delhi.

Leeladhar Mandloi and Anamika were two other poets who spoke in the session.

Asked whether the artistes did not have faith in their works and that is why they resorted to award wapsi, Ashok Vajpeyi said, "Fortunately or unfortunately, you all did not read what we wrote. We did not think one fine morning of doing something theatrical."

He said poets have been against the establishment, religion, bureaucracy and economic for several decades. Their inherent nature is to ask questions.

Ashok Vajpeyi said the Hindi world is somewhere where writers are not listened to. "We do not give importance to our writers. In such a situation, a dramatic expression was necessary."

He said some of the writers and artistes thought that this dramatic expression (of returning awards) could be in the form of returning our awards. "And I feel this expression was successful in its aim."

Ashok Vajpeyi, the former IAS officer, said for the first time writers appeared on the first page of the newspapers and appeared on all news channels. "We were given importance."

"I was also in the action against intolerance though politicians and the media were denying the prevailing intolerance."

Ashok Vajpeyi asked why the establishment felt hassled if there was no truth in the stand of the artistes. "Some fellow artistes went to the extent of saying 'jootey maaro saalon ko'."

But the artistes did what their inner conscience listened and then converted it to social conscience. "This is our work."

He was of the view that intolerance has grown even more as compared with what existed in 2016.

Without naming the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, Ashok Vajpeyi said the Hindi artistes were against the present establishment. "Hardly any Hindi writer is in favour of this establishment. They are writing against the establishment. Only the petty ones perhaps are writing in favour of the government."

He said the writers could not make poetry stand in favour of communalism, bigotry and casteism. "We ask questions. Sharp questions."

Ashok Vajpeyi said Hindi literature is passing through a critical phase. It is generally against the establishment. No Hindi writer likes the present establishment.

However, he added that the work of the writers is neither to support nor to oppose establishment.

"With boldness, we present the truth. We do not have anything to with religion and politics."

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