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‘Writer is offender, dissenter and risk taker’

Tuesday, Dec 1, 2015,13:20 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | The role of a writer is extremely critical and nobody has a right to direct a writer when to protest, according to author Gita Hariharan.

Hariharan was speaking at the concluding day of the Delhi Literature Festival organised by the Times of India here yesterday. Stating that all writers at all points of times are in a sense offenders, the novelist quoted South African writer Andre Blink and said, the ‘business of a writer is to offend’ and during a time of siege, when the ‘power structures’ try to block the voices of dissenters, a writer has a very important part to play.

Many writers have spoken up at different points of time. We have had protests as well as debates in the past as well, but of late after the assassinations of writers a tipping point has come which created a hunger to express in ways that writers generally don’t, she said.

The author was joined by other writers who spoke about the need for self censorship. There are different kinds of censorships, state censorship, public censorship, and the worst is self censorship. The purpose of all the censorships is to finally make a writer self-censored, said Sahitya Akademi winner Mridula Garg.

When they put a ban on a writer’s book it is not because they don’t want the readers to read that but because they do not want the writer to write, Garg said. Emphasising the importance of understanding the idea of a protester and a dissenter, she said, Protest is temporary while dissent is perpetual and a writer is a perpetual dissenter.

Leela Gandhi, an academician and the great grand daughter of Mahatma Gandhi, cited democracy as an idea of ‘rule by consent’ and said that it is the same democracy that has given us a right to say no. However, it’s very difficult to say no as nobody likes a nay sayer and tries to block that person’s voice, which is why those who dissent are considered as the people who spread negativity, Gandhi said.