The Sahitya Akademi does not represent the government. It is better to return a Padma award, writes historian Vikram Sampath
In the last few days, littérateurs of this country have received the most widespread media coverage. Their receiving the award from the Sahitya Akademi would not have made as much news as their returning it did. The hype continues as you read this. Writers like me who disagree with this mode of protest and expressed our opinion on social media were at the receiving end of reverse “liberal trolls", branded as communal, fascist and bootlickers of the “despotic, intolerant and authoritarian" Modi regime. These epithets were hurled at us, ironically, in support of freedom of expression. I was reminded of what Bertrand Russell wrote in Unpopular Essays, “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd."