Javed Akhtar stops blogger being censored
By Shalini Singh
It is a given that blogs have done much to democratize, educate, entertain and enlighten humanity. Scratchmysoul in association with Doordarshan and Hindustan Times conducted a bloggers symposium on Dec 12, 2009 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. A blogger who attended said he was asked to avoid any contentious speeches.
The topic at this blogging symposium was 'Blogs can transform society'. Scratchmysoul had invited the highly regarded writer and poet Javed Akhtar as its chief guest.
Scratchmysoul describes itself as “a platform that aims to bring together the diverse bloggers of the blogging world. It also includes a Blog Reading Competition which has always seen large and spirited participation and extensive media coverage, in all the cities it was held like Jaipur, Indore and Bhopal. Apart from the renowned personalities its symposia sees participation of intellectuals from a wide cross section of society.”
Rahi Vidya is a Delhi based blogger who certainly has the twin gifts of introspection and mastery of words. Now Rahi has blogged about how attempts were made to stifle his voice at this symposium
How my voice was stifled when I talked of secularism
Scratchmysoul.com yesterday organised a Bloggers Symposium in New Delhi to celebrate the freedom of speech that new media has offered; instead it went on to STIFLE my own voice.
There was a blog reading session and I decided to read a post from my blog – Indian Muslim is confused, worried and angry – the organisers had also approved of the topic beforehand.
But hardly had I started reading from the post that Mr. Raghav Chandra, one of the organisers and Principal Secretary in Urban Development Department, MP and author of Soul, Mind, Body – Mapping the global citizen, came up to the podium and objected.
This took me unawares. Was I not audible? I said I wrote this after the Batla house incident.
“No please don’t read anything of this nature. Read any other post of yours.”
It was then that it dawned upon me that he has problems with the nature of my post, about the Hindu-Muslim issue that I have taken up. And that too because this MAY sound offending to some members on the dais. Javed Akhtar, the noted lyricist and poet, was the chief guest for the event.
But my post spoke against the ghettoization of Muslims. And Javed Akhtar too has voiced his opinion on these issues.
But the organisers seemed not to have much appetite beyond the first few lines. Had it not been for Javed Akhtar, who had the courage to hear criticism, I was already packed out of the podium. He asked me to continue. I explained that I am from the majority community but I am here to speak in favour of Muslims; doesn’t that speak about my secular nature.
Anyways I read out the post, deleting some sentences that could have further pissed off the organisers. Now I didn’t have the appetite for any more controversies.
As I came back to my seat, I suddenly realised, how easy it is to be misconstrued on the web, how easy it is to be labelled as a Vikram Buddhi or Chyetanya Kunte.
But the blogosphere has never ever tried to stifle my voice. They agree or don’t agree and this builds up to a more rational thinking for all. Javed Akhtar responded with a similar answer when one of the audience posted a query regarding effectiveness of blogs. Debate he said was healthier than keeping in ones heart and blogs are a great way to debate, referring to my blog post. But is the world beyond the blogosphere tolerant enough for debate. I got my answer yesterday.