Secularism is pillar of nation, greatest legacy we possess: Paul Zacharia
Thiruvananthapuram: The conversation between writer Paul Zacharia and artist Bony Thomas on the topic ‘Our times: Secularism of writers’ (Nammude Kalam: Ezhuthukarante Mathanirapekshatha) at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL’19) discussed the possibility of secularism in literature nowadays.
Bilingual writer Paul Zacharia emphasized on the point that secularism is one of the pillars of the nation. He also remembered that the word ‘Secularism’ was coined during the Emergency. The freedom fighters like Gandhi and others had pointed out that the ultimate identity of people here is ‘Indian’ and religion, caste or any other identity is only secondary to it. This was a secular concept. However, as time passed, all other identities gained supremacy over the nationality which was a secular identity. Now people highlight their religion first.
Zacharia also talked about the importance of being alert while writing. The religious consciousness in the minds of authors may come out when they are writing. So, they have to be careful to keep the sensitive, non-secular matters inside and to prevent giving unnecessary focus to such religious based content. The greatest legacy we have is the secular culture we have developed through the renaissance, he added.
He also harshly criticized the media for not intervening into the current socio-political scenario with a positive intention. He said that when a politician talks about something fanatical, he may convey the ideas only to a few people. But when media reports it, the lethal message reaches hundreds and thousands of people and the consequences are far more dangerous.
The writer also observed that the children have to be inculcated with secular values at an young age instead of training them to make more money when grown up. He also noted that people did not address others based on their religion during his childhood. But they have developed such a culture these days.
Bony Thomas while conversing with Zacharia shared his experiences of religious sensitivity maintained in Kerala in comparison with North Indian cities. He had lived in Delhi and Mumbai and the communal riots occurred there made him think that Kerala is a much safer place for a person to live without fearing other religions. He also shared his experience of witnessing the Mumbai terror attack and communal riots in which many people lost their lives.
He responded to Zacharia’s opinion about media that there are so many instances for religious harmony existing in Kerala, but the media refuse to highlight them properly. He mentioned the bonding between the Yadava community and Muslims in Kochi because the former makes a living from goat rearing and the latter purchase goats from them for their festivals.
After the conversation, writer M. N. Karassery’s book ‘Muslim Nadukalile Pazhanchollukal’ was released by Paul Zacharia by handing over it to director Thampy Antony. Later, Geetha Nair, retired professor of All Saints College handed over mementos to both Paul Zacharia and Bony Thomas. The programme was conducted at the Under the Tree venue at Kanakakkunnu at 2 in the afternoon. Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters 2019 is conducted in eight venues here from January 31 to Febuary 3.