A delegation on behalf the writers, artists, scientists and academics consisting of the poet Ashok Vajpeyi, the painter Vivan Sundaram and the journalist Om Thanvi called upon the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 25th November 2015 thanking him for speaking repeatedly against growing intolerance and requesting him ‘as the head of the nation to do all that is possible to advise and persuade Governments, both of the States and the Centre, political parties and all others to act decisively so that the ethos of tolerance, mutual cooperation, respect for plurality and difference, scope for dissent and dialogue, freedom of expression are all ensured and given full and free expression both in deeds and words’.
They also submitted to the President a statement that was openly and unanimously adapted at the convention ‘Pratirodh’ on 1st November 2015 which calls upon ‘the political parties, the Central and State Governments that they all actively discourage such trends; desist from overly or coverty supporting or encouraging such trends of intolerance by deed or silence, institutions, groups etc which are infact undermining the cardinal republican values and which are working to spread an atmosphere of hatred, revenge violence without fear of law in the utter disregard of constitutional spirit of India.
We wish to remind them that they draw their legitimacy from the Constitution and, therefore, it is incumbent upon them not to bypass or subvert the basic principles and vision of the Constitution. We wish to request our MPs that they should fully and responsibly use their right of free speech in the Parliament in public interest’. The President expressed the view that ‘award-vapasi’ is a way of protest and it has been evidently spontaneous. He feels that the reason India has survived, though many more ancient civilizations have disappeared, is due to its pluralism over millenia. The recent protests by writers, artists, scientists & academics have made the issue of intolerance a matter of nation-wide debate.