BENGALURU: Bangalore Literature Festival witnessed an interesting discussion with Aakar Patel, writer and columnist, Mihir Sarma, former journalist and opinion editor, Prasanna Viswanathan, CEO of Swarajya, Ramya, actor and politician, and Harish Bijoor, brand domain specialist, wherein issues from sedition, nationalism, tolerance, Twitter, language, beef ban to demonetisation were discussed elaborately.
The floor opened with defining the meaning of contrarian. Aakar Patel said, “It is someone who defines public opinion. But the problem in our country is that half of it is not literate and you are misjudged most of the time.”
Prasanna said, “The problem here is, ideas are not debated on merit.” Ramya, on the other hand, maintained, “Anybody who challenges the popular view is a contrarian.”
On matters of language in our country, Ramya pointed out, “I do not appreciate Hindi imposition. I am a Kannadiga and I am comfortable conversing in my mother tongue. I should not be forced to speak in Hindi.”
In this connection, Aakar Patel said it is not Hindi, but English which is our national language, as today even cab drivers are forced to follow the GPS in English. Given the forum, it was apparent that issues pertaining to sedition would also be discussed and Ramya, who was embroiled in sedition controversy, said, “The tolerance level of the people in this country is very low. I did not say anything bad about my country. I merely said Pakistan is not hell and that is it.”
Agreeing with Ramya, Aakar Patel said, “Look at Kanhaiya Kumar’s case. A student was sent to jail, the entire nation was shook and the drama unfolded over many days. But sadly, even after 10 months, a chargesheet has not been filed. Why all this for nothing? The government itself is not responsible. It reflects badly on Bengaluru that Kanhaiya Kumar did not turn up for BLF. He feared mob violence and that he would be beaten up.”
They also spoke about demonetisation, which is the flavour of the month. Prasanna Viswanathan, said, “It is an initiative for moving forward to long-term transparency.” But Ramya begged to differ and said, “It is nothing but sheer inconvenience to people.”
Mihir Sharma, on the other hand, was quite sarcastic about demonetisation. He said, “There will be the start of a golden age. From January 1, everybody is going to be truthful and honest. We must remember even strong leaders make mistakes.”