2016 must surely be an annus horribilis for the Kerala cultural scene. The death of many well-known personalities in the literary and film world has cast a pall of gloom over the state. Among those who departed - some ahead of their time - from the land of the living are actress Kalpana, poet-litterateur O. N.V. Kurup, director Rajesh Pillai, music composer and singer Shan Johnson (daughter of late music composer Johnson), writer Akbar Kakkattil, cinematographer, Ananthakuttan and now Kalabhavan Mani.
The recent attack on a Tanzanian girl in Karnataka is only the latest in a series of shameful incidents that Bengaluru is increasingly becoming notorious for. Apparently, the girl was allegedly stripped and beaten for a crime that was not even committed by her. She was punished because of her skin colour which betrayed her African origin.
Chetan Bhagat writes bestsellers that are widely read by the youth of this country. As such he is someone whose opinions have the potential to influence young minds. That is why it is shocking to read what he has to say about the controversy around writers and artists returning their awards. His theory is that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are under attack from Indian intellectuals because they don't belong to the privileged class, speak English with foreign accent or have foreign girlfriends!
It is a well known fact that absolute power has a tendency to corrupt people. Nations, organizations, families, wherever power is concentrated in the hands of an individual or a few individuals, we can see this truth being played out. In the case of the Tamilnadu Nadigar Sangam or South Indian Artists Association also, this is what happened. For decades, power was vested in a certain group. Bolstered by this power, they began to take decisions unilaterally without consulting the other stakeholders. The result was inevitable. Discontent, opposition and eventually an outright challenge from disgruntled members who decided to cleanse the Augean stables through elections.