"What an interesting time we are living in. For the past few weeks we have been punishing people for shouting slogans. But for the last few weeks we have been punishing people for not shouting slogans,"
"I don't need to be lectured in nationalism," ace development journalist Phalagummi Sainath said in Delhi on Saturday, taking a dig at right-wing Hindutva groups.
He was in the Capital to inaugurate a two-day national convention on Shrinking Democratic Spaces and Neo-liberal Fundamentalism. Sainath, also known for his scathing political comments, attacked fundamentalism - both religious and market - that is increasingly marginalising the poor.
He spoke on a range of issues -
* shrinking democratic space
* era of obscene inequality
* dual fundamentalism of religious and market forces
* dubious role of the media
* cow slaughter
* 'nationalists' like VD Savarkar who allegedly collaborated with British imperialism
"What an interesting time we are living in. For the past few weeks we have been punishing people for shouting slogans. But for the last few weeks we have been punishing people for not shouting slogans," Sainath said about the recent incident in Maharashtra Assembly involving All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Waris Pathan.
Asking the audience to not underestimate the people in power, he quoted American comedian George Carlin who said never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups: "Today we are finding out what people in large groups could do," he said.
He then spoke about the growing disparity in India where the 100 richest own more wealth than two-thirds of the country's people and 15 individuals own more wealth then half the population.
"One Indian Mukesh Bhai owns more than what 250 million do."
On Sunday, the convention at Rajendra Bhavan, New Delhi, will host sessions on Culture of Intolerance and Fascism of the 21st Century.
Video by Shadab Moizee
Text by Akash Bisht
Edited by Joyjeet Das