I started participating in Blog Action Day a few years ago, and over the years have found that it’s something I enjoy being a part of. I started because it gave me something to write about when I didn’t have much to write about otherwise. I take it as a bigger responsibility now, for some reason.
Blog Action Day 2015 was officially on October 16th, but I wanted to add my voice nevertheless (better late than never and all that). The theme for the year is #raiseyourvoice, in support of people who raise their voice despite being threatened with violence or censorship.
I wanted to call out the many brave writers and journalists in India who have given their lives and their careers in an environment that is growing increasingly hostile to free speech. Especially over the last few years or so, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse. 2013 was a particularly bad year and saw the death of 8 journalists in the country according to the Press Freedom Index, where India currently ranks 140th out of 180 – an embarrassing position for the world’s largest democracy. Kashmir and Chhattisgarh are particularly bad states for journalists, though curbs on freedom happen across the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists puts the number of murdered journalists since 1992 at 37, though it is likely there are more. This year, in the last 4 months alone, 3 journalists have been killed, including Hemant Yadav 2 weeks ago.
Earlier this year, a large number of India’s writers also returned awards given to them by the government, in protest against curbs on freedom of expression.
I’m hardly as brave as any of them, and can only hope that the government, politicians and the power nexus realise the damage they are doing to the future of the country by eliminating or throttling its present.
English PEN is unsurprisingly a Blog Action Day partner for the year, because ‘it sums up the work PEN has been doing for almost 100 years.’ And important work it is.