A high rated Indian Scientist Pushpa Mittra Bhargava joins the #awardwapsigang by returning third highest civilian award Padma Bhushan, hereby joining a chorus voice of protest ‘Against Intolerance’. Bhargava is a founder of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). The scientist announced return on Wednesday an hour later of the similar announcement made by group of filmmakers, who has returned their National Award.
Bhargava in his quote to TOI said “I feel no sentimental attachments to his award, especially when the government is trying to institutionalize religion and curtail freedom and scientific spirit”. He further remarked that “I hope young scientists too will raise their voice”.
Prior to this eight eminent filmmakers including Dibaker Banerjee, Anand Patwardhan, Paresh Kamdar, Harvardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai returned their National Awards in solidarity with the protesting FTII (Film and Television Institution of India).
Dibakar Banerjee after returning his national award said the decision is an outburst of alleged lack of concern displayed by the government in considering the issues of the FTII students and the general environment of intolerance. Banerjee has won national award in 2006 for best feature film in Hindi “Khosla Ka Ghosla”.
Dibakar passed the statement saying “I am not here out of anger, outrage. Those emotions have long been exhausted. I am here to draw attention. Returning my very first National Award which I received for ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ is not easy. It was my first film and for many my most loved.”
Anand Patwardhan a documentary film maker pointed that government has encouraged “extreme right wing”. “I havnt seen so many incidents happening at the same time. This is a indication of what is beginning to happen and I think that is why people are responding all over the country in different ways”
The group of filmmakers has also returned letter to President Pranabh Mukharjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while another group of around 100 scientists has written to the President to protest a “climate of intolerance” across the country.
A collective version of scientific community reads “The scientific community is deeply concerned with the climate of intolerance, and the ways in which science and reason are being eroded in the country. It is the same climate of intolerance and rejection of reason that led to the lynching in Dadri of Mohammad Akhlaq and the assassinations of Prof (M M) Kalburgi, Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Shri Govind Pansare. All three fought against superstition and obscurantism to build a scientific temper in our society.”
Apart from PM Bhargava, others who have signed the statement are P Balram, former director of Indian Institute of Science; Ashoke Sen of the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad; A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board; B Ravindran of the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar; Partha Pratim Majumdar of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani and Satyajit Rath of the National Institute of Immunology in Delhi, reported Indian Express.