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Watch: Nandita Das Tells Us, “This Is Not A Time To Be Silent”

Posted: January 19, 2019

When faced with terrible crimes such as the lynching of those belonging to minority groups, why do we fall into a ‘collective silence’? Nandita Das tells us why we need to speak, more than ever.

First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

It is not important really who said this and when. Suffice to say, these lines have stayed with me for a long time now.

These are fractious times with increasingly raucous cacophony threatening to overpower the saner softer voices, thereby sometimes leading to deafening silence. 

Collective silences’ – a powerful phrase isn’t it? Haven’t we all been guilty of the same sometime or the other in our lives? How culpable are we when we stand by mutely and watch the mayhem unfold?

To speak to society’s collective silences Karwan-e-Mohabbat — a Caravan of Love — was crafted as a journey of atonement, solidarity, conscience, and justice. Karwan-e-Mohabbat seeks to stand alongside the victims of hate crimes and the discriminated to alleviate their sense of foreboding and their fear of imminent violence. It also supports citizen initiatives against normalizing minority lynchings.

In a recent episode (#Tathya) by Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Nandita Das, the acclaimed actor, and award-winning director spoke about the will and the need to be more honest, free-spirited and brave. She reminded us that courage, conviction, and compassion must always go together.

I would like to add another ‘C’ to her list. 

Conversations! 

Freewheeling Candid Conversations!

For any vibrant and inclusive society to breathe, thrive and prosper, artists must be the fiery stimulants for individual or interpersonal interactions. Creators by their works of art must spawn frank discussions on divisive issues, vexing topics, or current thorns.

The via medium could be anything. Paintings, Music, Cinema, Drama or Opinion-pieces – any that could ensure heartfelt open exchanges.

Artists are like a soothing balm to the wounds that we inflict upon selves blinded by our preconceived notions, and the resulting churning that we undergo. The masters with their creations appeal to our finer senses and trigger a positive spark within our psyche. 

Recently there was a collective uproar over cricketers Hardik Pandya’s and K L Rahul’s misogynistic utterances on a talk show. The innumerable write-ups on their abominable behaviour went viral making public aware, how distasteful the whole episode was. The swift punishment meted out to these two showed when society reacts collectively in one voice, justice can be brought where needed. 

Can we do the same when our fellow citizens are made victims of hate crimes?

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Anupama Jain is the author of 'When Padma Bani Paula', a breezy novel about second

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