NEW DELHI – Amid the ongoing general elections, writers, artists and filmmakers have been urging people to vote against hate and mob lynching. On Tuesday, 71 people associated with Bollywood film industry including prominent actresses Swara Bhashkar and Shabana Azmi appealed to the voters to vote to defend the constitution and idea of India.
“We appeal to all the people of India, our dear brothers and sisters, to use your power as citizens and as caring human beings to defend our Constitution, and nurture the very idea of India. Please, pause and think, before you vote,” reads the letter signed by 71 actor and writers
Though they haven’t directly targeted the current ruling dispensation, which is infamous for its divisive politics and politics of polarization, they have expressed their concerns about the anti-democratic forces posing a threat on our founding principles of diversity, equality and the separation of religion from politics, in the current times.
Recently there was another appeal made by 600 artists in 12 languages from across the country to the voters to vote ‘bigotry, hatred and apathy out of power’. This included prominent names like Naseeruddin Shah, AnuragKashyap, RatnaPathak Shah, GirishKarnad, AmolPalekar, ShantaGokhale among others. Also, 107 artists from the Marathi creative industry appealed the public to consider the last five years before casting their votes. The signatories were national-award winning authors and literary writers such as writer BhalchandraNemade, playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar, film director ArunKhopkar among others.
The right-wing supremacist Hindutva party BJP has had a flickering relationship with the creative industry. While politically motivated and controversial appointments of chairman, CBFC and Director, FTII antagonised the creative professionals, films like ‘PM NarendraModi’ held the PM in high regards.
The current government’s nasty strategy of labelling the dissenters as ‘anti-nationals’ or ‘Pro-Pakistan’ is not hidden anymore. Despite the threats of drawing the ire of ‘nationalists’, such valiant efforts by eminent personalities gives a ray of hope to save our democratic structure.
Full text of the letter:
Our country is known and admired across the world for its enormous diversity, pluralism and the mutual respect that unites millions of Indians in a multi-cultural ethos. This is the idea of India that our freedom movement held high. That is why the modern values of democracy and separation of religion from politics, for which our country’s freedom-fighters fought hard, form the very foundation of our vast society.
Enshrined in the Constitution of India, these central values have unified us as a people, by protecting our diversity. They are guidelines to prevent prejudice and discrimination. This is what makes India great.
In recent years, when there have been attempts by anti-democratic forces to threaten and weaken these founding principles of the Republic of India that is Bharat, many have risen to protect our core values – including students and youth, dalits and minorities, women, writers, artists and countless citizens in various walks of life. We have also witnessed the struggles of farmers, workers and people from underprivileged sections.
Today, each one of us needs to act – as a proud inheritor of this unique civilization and as a citizen of the world’s largest democracy – to unambiguously declare our allegiance to the core values of fraternity, dignity and compassion. Yes, there are conflicts and disagreements amongst us but they can be resolved if we nurture and live by these values.
We appeal to all the people of India, our dear brothers and sisters, to use your power as citizens and as caring human beings to defend our Constitution, and nurture the very idea of India.
Please, pause and think, before you vote.