If a PEN congress is always a celebration of literature, the Indian PEN congress which took place last September was a wonderful celebration of all literatures. Without exception. As we all know, globalization is a voracious destroyer of languages, and PEN wants to be a dike against cultural standardization.
That is why I would like to open this blog, recalling the demonstration in defense of all world's languages, in which all delegates of Pune Congress participated some months ago. More than five thousand students from the city universities took part on it, carrying banners with the names of the 6,000 languages of the world, among which the 780 spoken India languages stood out. Posters like this one, which proclaims the Armenian tongue in all different countries where it is spoken:
The demonstration looked like this:
Students paraded first, followed by all of us, writers from all around the world, who had gathered in Pune for the Congress. And amidst the demonstrators, fifteen Maharashtrian music groups were singing poems from their own literature - the oldest ones of the fourteenth century!
Towards the end of the demonstration, we stopped on a bridge over the Mutha River. The Maharishi Vitaal Ramji Shinde Bridge. It that spot we raised our banners, which claimed "Truth, Freedom, Diversity" in many languages. In the photo, I am holding the banner in Telugu language. Others did it in Punjabi, in Chinese, in Tamil, in French, in Catalan... In this same place on that bridge, some murderers ended with the life of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, on 20th August 2013.
Dabholkar was a doctor, a social and an intellectual activist; the scandal produced by his death in the hands of some intolerants got the 'Decree against superstition and black magic' - for which he had tirelessly fought – to be finally approved in Maharastra. Here we remembered Dr. Dabholkar and we honored him too. On the very same spot where the Dakshinayan movement of academics, artists, journalists and writers started up. The movement that demands for the perpetrators of academics’ and journalists’ murders –Dr. Dabholkar, Comrade Pansare, Dr. Kalburgi, the journalist and publisher Gauri Lankesh– to be judged and to defend truth against intolerance. A movement that was also one of the main organizers of our 84th PEN international Congress in India.
This post is written in French. Read this post in other languages: