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April 04, 2017 @ 01:15 PM

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K. J. Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai

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Returning of awards - A truthful concern or Photo ops? 

Published: Tuesday, 2 February, 2016 11:00 AM

Returning of awards - A truthful concern or Photo ops? 

After the results for CAT, XAT, IIFT, SNAP, CMAT, MAT and NMAT are out, you will be invited for GD and it is must for you to practice with variety of GD topics.
Read and develop points for discussion on GD Burning topic: Returning of awards - A truthful concern or Photo ops? 

The recent spurt in eminent citizens of the country returning the awards presented by the nation in recognition of their talents and achievements seems to have dragged the society into the tolerance versus intolerance debate and forced it to associate itself with any one side. Since India is a diverse country, there are bound to be stray incidents of people trying to vitiate the harmony of the country by their divisive remarks or actions but to term the atmosphere of the country ‘intolerant’ and return national awards seems a little too extreme and an exaggerated response.

A. The landslide victory of the BJP led NDA government in the general elections of 2014, on one hand raised hopes of the people of the country, on the other stoked fears of ‘saffronisation’ in some quarters too. The detractors of the government have been quick to pick on any let off by the government.

B. Eminent citizens- scientists, writers, filmmakers, have returned their awards citing the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq, murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kaburgi and the tussle between the government and FTII students. All these reflect the inability of the government to reign in the extreme elements of the society. While it is taking steps to improve the economy and image of the country, by remaining silent on such acts of violence, it is exposing itself to its detractors who call it communal.

C. It is believed in some quarters that the right wing groups are pushing to see how far they can go under the present regime. Therefore, they are making divisive or communal remarks. The intellectuals and thinking of the country have, in my view, the right to respond to what they feel is an attack on the secular fabric of the society. I think they are justified in returning the awards if they feel that the government is not doing enough to protect all the communities, especially the minorities.

D. Awards have been given by the government in recognition of their contributions to the country. Indirectly, by returning national awards, such eminent citizens are disrespecting the people of the country who have appreciated their work and made them who they are. 

E. The government and many others see this as nothing more than a mere photo op. They contend that such incidents took place during the time of earlier governments too, but that did not invite such a response from the intellectuals. Riots have happened in the past, minority rights have been strangled before, but awards have been returned only now. There seems to be a political motivation behind the return of the awards.

F. Returning awards will accomplish little. Instead of returning awards, it would be better if they participated constructively in nation building. One way of doing it is by giving suggestions and ideas to the government which may help it to govern better. The people who have returned awards have a lot to offer to the country. Returning awards makes a symbolic point and nothing more. They should try to engage the government and work collectively towards building the nation.

Returning awards is one form of protesting against the government that the eminent citizens have resorted to and it is their personal choice. While their motivation may be subjected to scrutiny, there are better ways of protest for sure. The government, too, needs to get its act together and create an environment where all communities can exist harmony and no community feels targeted.  

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