Noted theatre exponent and playwright from Karnataka S Raghunandana turned down the Sangeet Natak Akademi award bestowed on him just a day before on 17 July. Citing the "rising intolerance" and "mob lynchings and violence in the name of God and religion", Raghunandana issued a statement on 18 July and officially declined the award.
In a report by The Hindu, the celebrated theatre personality is quoted saying that his decision does not come from a place of a protest but "out of despair, a helpless inability to accept the award."
An excerpt from his complete statement, reproduced by The Wire, reads, "...The powers-that-be are directly, or indirectly, responsible for these deadly acts of murder and violence. They are directly, or indirectly, supporting the hate campaign that uses all means, including those offered by internet technology, to fulfil its unholy aims.
An attempt is being made to put in place systems that will teach lessons of hate and irrationality to students everywhere, from those in institutions of the highest education to those in schools and colleges. The very meaning of what it is to be an Indian, and the adage Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, are being distorted, and erased. But, is not hybridity Shivam indeed? Crores of people like me can only lament: Cry, the Beloved Country..."
This year, in the field of theatre, nine eminent artists were selected for the Sangeet Natak Akademi award including, Rajiv Naik for Playwriting, Laltluangliana Khiangte for Playwriting, Sanjay Upadhyay for Direction, S Raghunandana for Direction, Suhas Joshi for Acting, Teekam Joshi for Acting.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi, through this award, honours not only symbolise the highest standard of excellence and achievements but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution.
(With inputs from Asian News International)