Statement by Artists, Curators and Critics Against Rising Intolerance in India

Text of a Statement by Artists, Curators and Critics in India against a Climate of Rising Intolerance in India

(Followed by Names of the 300 + Signatories, in Alphabetical Order)

The artist community of India stands in firm solidarity with the actions of our writers who have relinquished awards and positions, and spoken up in protest against the alarming rise of intolerance in the country. We condemn and mourn the murders of MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, rationalists and free thinkers whose voices have been silenced by rightwing dogmatists but whose ‘presence’ must ignite our resistance to the conditions of hate being generated around us.

We will never forget the battle we fought for our pre-eminent artist M.F. Husain who was hounded out of the country and died in exile. We remember the rightwing invasion and dismantling of freedoms in one of the country’s best known art schools in Baroda. We witness the present government’s appointment of grossly unqualified persons to the FTII Society and its disregard of the ongoing strike by the students of this leading Institute. We see a writer like Perumal Murugan being intimidated into declaring his death as a writer, a matter of dire shame in any society.

While the Prime Minister of the country has been conspicuously reticent in his response to the recent events, the reactions of BJP ministers in his government reveal their ignorance and prejudice. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture, has made abhorrent comments about mob lynching and murder. His remarks suggesting that writers should stop writing to prove their point are alarming – empowered as he is to take policy decisions in the domain of culture. Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance, Information & Broadcasting, has mocked the actions of our respected writers as a manufactured ‘paper rebellion’. He asks for scrutiny of the political and ideological affiliations of those who are protesting.

To these and other such provocations there is a clear answer: while the actual affiliations of the protesting writers and artists, scholars and journalists may be many and varied, their individual and collective voices are gaining cumulative strength. It is this that the ruling party will have to reckon with: the protestors’ declared disaffiliation from a government that encourages marauding outfits to enforce a series of regressive commands in this culturally diverse country.

The scale of social violence and fatal assaults on ordinary citizens (as in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh; Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir; Faridabad, Harayana) is escalating. The contemptuous comments about the religious minorities and Dalits made by those within the government confirm that there is little difference between the RSS-BJP mainstream and supposed ‘fringe’ elements. The perfunctory warnings and regrets issued by ruling party ideologues – to defend the agendas of ‘development’ and ‘governance’ advanced by Mr Narendra Modi – are merely expedient. The Sangh Parivar and its Hindutva forces operating through their goon brigades form the support base of this government; they are all complicit in the attempts to impose conformity of thought, belief and practice.

The ideology of the ruling party has revealed its contempt for creative and intellectual work; bigotry and censorship will only grow. As in the past, we must challenge the divisive forces through varied forms of appeal and protest, articulation and refusal. Our demand can be nothing less than that the entire range of constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens of this country – freedom of expression and speech, right to dissent and exert difference in life choices including culture and religion – be ensured.

A government that does not tolerate difference, that does not safeguard the lives and interests of its marginalized and vulnerable citizens, loses its legitimacy in a democratic polity. We are facing this situation now, already.

Aastha Chauhan, artist, Delhi

Aban Raza, artist, Delhi

Abdul Mabood, Delhi

Abhilasha Kumari, media professor, Delhi

Abhimanue V.G., artist, Delhi

Abhishek Hazra, artist, Bangalore

Ahmar Raza, scientist, Delhi

Aishwaryan K, artist, Bengaluru.

Ajay Desai, artist, Delhi

Aji V.N., artist, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Akansha Rastogi, WALA collective, Delhi

Akshaya Tankha, art historian, University of Toronto, Canada

Alnoor Mitha, artist, curator, Manchester, UK

Amar Kanwar, artist and filmmaker, Delhi

Amrita Gupta Singh, art historian, Mumbai

Anamika Haksar, theatre director, Mumbai

Ananya Vajpeyi, CSDS, Delhi

Anindita Bhattacharya, artist, Delhi

Anish Ahluwalia, artist and filmmaker

Anish Kapoor, artist, London

Anita Dube, artist, Delhi

Anjolie Ela Menon, artist, Delhi

Anju Dodiya, artist, Mumbai

Anjum Singh, artist, Delhi

Anshuman Dasgupta, art historian, Santiniketan

Anupam Saikia, Dept. of Fine Arts, University of Hyderabad

Anupam Singh, artist, Mumbai

Anuradha Kapur, theatre director, Delhi

Aradhana Seth, production designer, artist, Goa

Archana Hande, artist, Mumbai

Arghya Priya Majumdar, artist, Santiniketan

Arpana Caur, artist, Delhi

Arpita Singh, artist, Delhi

Arshad Hakim, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Arshad Hakim, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Arshiya Lokhandwala, curator, gallerist, Mumbai

Arun Kumar H.G., artist, Delhi

Arunima Choudhury, Kolkata

Ashim Purkasthaya, artist, Delhi

Ashis Kumar Das, artist, Mumbai

Ashrafi S. Bhagat, art historian, Chennai

Atreyee Gupta, art historian, Berlin

Atul Bhalla, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Atul Dodiya, artist, Mumbai

Aurora Graldi, PhD Candidate in South Asian Art History, Vienna University

Avani Batra, Delhi

Avinash Veeraraghavan, artist, Bangalore

Ayisha Abraham, artist, Bangalore

Babitha Lingraj, artist, Bangalore

Babu Eshwar Prasad, artist and filmmaker, Bangalore

Balan Nambiar, artist, Bangalore

Balbir Krishan, artist, Delhi

Belinder Dhanoa, art critic, Delhi

Bhagath Singh E.K,artist,Kerala

Bharathesh G.D., artist, Bangalore

Bharati Kapadia, artist, Mumbai

Bharti Kher, artist Delhi

Bhavani G.S., artist, Bangalore

Bhavani Shiva, artist, Bangalore

Biju Jose, artist, Bangalore

Bina Sarkar Elias, editor & publisher, International Galerie

C.F. John, artist, Bangalore

Catherine Asher, art historian, USA

Chaitanya Sambrani, art historian, Canberra

Champa Sharath, artist, Bangalore

Chandrima Bhattacharyya, artist, Bangalore

Chinar Shah, artist, Bangalore

Chintan Upadhyay, artist, Delhi/Mumbai

Chitra Ganesh, artist, New York, USA

Christopher Pinney, art historian, London, UK

Cop Shiva, photographer, Bangalore

Deepa Mahajan, artist, Mumbai/Singapore

Deepak Ananth, art historian, Paris

Deepanjana Klein, art historian, New York, USA

Deepika Sorabjee, curator, Mumbai

Deeptha Achar, art critic, Baroda

Dev Benegal, New York, USA

Devika Daulet-Singh, gallerist, Delhi

Dhruvi Acharya, artist, Mumbai

Diana Gomes, artist, Baroda

Dilip Mitra, artist, Santiniketan

Dimple Shah, artist, Bangalore

Dipti Khera, art historian, New York University, USA

Faiza Hasan, artist, Hyderabad.

G.S. Gopinath, artist, Bangalore

Gargi Raina, artist Baroda

Gauri Gill, photographer, Delhi

Gayatri Sinha, art critic, Delhi

Geeta Doctor, writer, Chennai

Geeta Kapur, art critic, Delhi

Geetha Mehra, gallerist, Mumbai

Gieve Patel, artist, Mumbai

Gigi Scaria, artist, Delhi

Gopika Chowfla, graphic designer, Delhi

Gopika Nath, artist-craftsperson and writer, Gurgaon

Goutam Das, artist, Santiniketan

Gulammohammed Sheikh, artist, Baroda

Hans Kaushik, artist, Chennai

Hema Upadhyay, artist, Mumbai

Homita Harish Katira, artist, Columbia, SC, USA

Homita, artist, Mumbai

Indrapramit Roy, artist, Baroda

Indu Chandrasekhar, publisher, Delhi

Ivan Smith, artist, Belper, Derbyshire, UK

Jahangir Asgar Jani, artist, Mumbai

Jaideep Mehrotra, artist, Mumbai

Jaideep Sen, artist, Bangalore

Jaishri Abichandani, artist, New York, USA

James Khamliansawma, artist, Aizawl, Mizoram

Janice Glowski, art historian, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Jasbeer Singh, artist, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Jatin Das, artist, Delhi

Jeetin Rangher, artist, Bangalore

Jitish Kallat, artist, Mumbai

Johny M.L., art critic, Delhi

Justin Ponmany, artist, Mumbai

Jyotindra Jain, art historian, Delhi

K.G. Subramanyan, artist, Baroda

K.P. Reji, artist, Baroda

K.V. Raghavendra Rao, artist, Bangalore, Vancouver, Canada

Karishma D’Souza, Panaji, Goa

Karishma Shah, artist, Surat

Kathryn Myers, Professor of Art, University of Connecticut, USA

Kaushik Bhaumik, artist, Delhi

Kausik Mukhopadhyay, artist, Mumbai

Kim Kyoungae, artist, Baroda

Kirtana Thangavelu, art historian, S.N. School, Hyderabad

Kirti Jain, theatre director, Delhi

Krishen Khanna, artist, Delhi

Krishnaraj Chonat, artist, Bangalore

Kuldeep Singh, artist

Kumari Ranjeeta, artist , Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Kunal Kalra, artist, Hyderabad

L.N. Tallur, artist, Kundapura

L.N.V. Srinivas, artist, S.N. School, Hyderabad

Lalitha Gopalan, video scholar, USA

Lalitha Shankar, artist, Bangalore

Latika Gupta, art historian, Delhi

Leela Mayor, artist, Baroda

Lokesh Khodke, artist, Delhi

M.K. Raina, theatre director, Delhi

Madhuban Mitra, artist, Kolkata

Madhusree Dutta, filmmaker, Mumbai

Madhusudhanan, artist, Kerala

Mahesh G., artist, Mysore

Mahjabin Imam Majumdar, artist, Santiniketan

Mahula Ghosh, artist, Delhi

Mala Marwah, artist, Delhi

Malavika Rajnarayan, artist, Baroda

Manas Bhattacharya, artist, Kolkata

Manmohan, writer, Rohtak

Mansi Bhatt, artist, Mumbai

Manuela Ciotti, visual anthropologist, Denmark

Marie Dias Arora, artist, Delhi

Mary-Louise Totton, art historian, USA

Meera Devidayal, artist, Mumbai

Meera Menezes, art critic, Delhi

Megha Joshi, artist, Delhi

Meher Pestonji, writer,Mumbai

Mithu Sen, artist, Delhi

Molly Emma Aitken, art historian, USA

Mona Berman, Director, Mona Berman Fine Arts, New Haven, USA

Moutushi Chakraborty, artist, Kolkata

Myna Mukherjee, cultural curator, Delhi

N. Ramachandran, artist, Chennai

N.N. Rimzon, artist, Thiruvananthapuram

N.S. Harsha, artist, Mysore

Nalini Malani, artist, Mumbai

Naman Ahuja, art historian, JNU, Delhi

Nanaiah Chettira, artist, Bangalore

Nanak Ganguly, art critic, Kolkata

Nancy Adajania, art critic, Mumbai

Nandesh Shanthi Prakash, artist, Bangalore

Nataraj Sharma, artist, Baroda

Natasha Ginwala, curator, Berlin/Ahmedabad

Naveen Kumar, artist, Bangalore

Navjot Altaf, artist, Mumbai

Navroze Contractor, photographer, Bangalore

Neelakshi Suryanarayan, University of Delhi, Delhi

Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry, theatre director, Chandigarh

Neha Choksi, Mumbai and Los Angeles, USA

Nibha Sikander, artist, Baroda

Nihaal Fazal, artist, Bangalore

Nikhileswar Baruah, artist, Baroda

Nilanjana S. Roy, writer, Delhi

Nilima Shiekh, artist, Baroda

Nirmala Beluka, artist, EFL, Hyderabad

Niyatee Shinde, art and photography writer, curator, photo-historian, Mumbai

Noopur Desai, art writer and researcher, Pune

Oindrilla Maity Surai, curator, Kolkata

Oli Ghosh, artist, Mumbai.

Padma Kaimal, art historian, Colgate University, USA

Parag Tandel, artist, Mumbai

Paramjit Singh, artist, Delhi

Parthiv Shah, photographer and designer, Delhi

Parul Dave Mukherji, art historian, JNU, Delhi

Parvati Nayar, artist, Chennai

Paula Sengupta, artist, Kolkata

Pavan K.J., artist, Mysore

Payal Arya, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Philippe Calia, artist, Mumbai

Pierre Strauch, Paier College of Art, USA

Prabhavati Meppayil, artist, Bangalore

Prajakta Palav Aher, artist, Mumbai.

Prajakta Potnis, artist, Mumbai

Pratul Dash, artist, Ghaziabad

Pratul Dash, artist, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad

Premalatha Seshadri, artist, Chennai

Prithpal S Ladi, artist, Shillong

Priti Paul, gallerist, Delhi

Priya Ravish Mehra, artist, Delhi

Priya Sundaravalli, artist, Auroville

Purushottam Agrawal, writer, Delhi

Pushpamala N., artist, Bangalore

Rabindra Patra, artist, Delhi

Radha Gomaty, Kochi, Kerala

Ragini Bhow, artist, Bangalore

Rahul Bhushan, graphic artist, Hyderabad

Rahul Dev, art critic, Delhi

Rahul J. Gajjar, artist, Baroda

Rajan Barrett

Rakhi Peswani, artist, Bangalore

Ram Rahman, photographer, Delhi

Raman Sivakumar, art historian, Santiniketan

Ramesh Chandra, artist, Bangalore

Ranbir Kaleka, artist, Delhi

Ranjit Hoskote, art critic, Mumbai

Ranjit Kandalgaonkar, artist, Mumbai

Ranjith Raman, artist, Delhi

Rashmee Pal Chouteau, artist, Kolkata

Rashmi Kaleka, artist, Delhi

Rashmimala Devi, artist, Baroda

Rasna Bhushan, art critic, Hyderabad

Rasna Bhushan, art critic, Hyderabad

Ravikumar Kashi, artist, Bangalore

Reena Saini Kallat, artist, Mumbai

Rekha Rodwittiya, artist, Baroda

Renu Modi, Gallery Espace, Delhi

Risha Lee, Rubin Museum of Art, New York USA

Riyas Komu, artist, Mumbai

Rohini Devasher, artist, Delhi

Rosalyn Dmello, art critic, Delhi

Rupa Rani, artist, Delhi

Rupali Patil, artist, Mumbai

Rustom Bharucha, writer, Delhi

Saba Hasan, artist, Delhi

Sabina Jaitly, artist

Sabitha T.P., art historian, UK

Sachin Karne, artist, Baroda

Sadanand Menon, photographer, critic, Chennai

Sagar S. Naik Mule, artist, Hyderabad

Sahej Rahal, artist, Mumbai

Sajitha Madathil, actress, Kochi, Kerala

Salik Ahmad, Delhi

Saloni Mathur, art historian, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA

Samit Das, artist, art historian, Delhi

Sanchayan Ghosh, artist, Santiniketan

Sandeep Biswas, photographer, Delhi

Sandeep Singhal, art collector, Mumbai

Sanjeev Khandekar, artist, Mumbai

Santhoshkumar Sakhinala, art historian, Hyderabad

Saravanan Parasuraman, artist, Chennai

Sarita Chouhan, Mumbai

Sasha Altaf, art critic, Mumbai/Miami USA

Savithri Rajeevan, poet, painter, Baroda

Shaibani Azam, animator, Delhi

Shakuntala Kulkarni, artist, Mumbai

Shamala Nandesha, artist, Bangalore

Shanthamani Muddiah, artist, Bangalore

Shanthi Swaroopini, artist,Hyderabad

Sharan Apparao, gallerist Chennai

N. Ramachandran, artist, Chennai

Sharmila Samant, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Sheba Chhachhi, artist, Delhi

Sheela Gowda, artist, Bangalore

Shefalee Jain, artist, Ambedkar University Delhi

Sheila Makhijani, artist, Delhi

Sherna Dastur, designer, Delhi

Shilpa Gupta, artist, Mumbai

Shireen Gandhy, gallerist, Mumbai

Shivaji.K. Panikkar, art historian, Delhi.

Shreshta Rit Premnath, artist, New York, USA

Shubha, writer, Rohtak

Shubhalakshmi Shukla, art writer, Mumbai

Shuddhabrata Sengupta, artist, Raqs Media Collective, Delhi

Shukla Sawant, artist, JNU, Delhi

Sita Reddy, curator/writer, Hyderabad

Smitha Cariappa, artist, Bangalore

Sonal Khullar, art historian, Seattle, USA

Sonam Chaturvedi, art student, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Sonia Jabbar, photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer, Delhi

Sonia Khurana, artist, Delhi

Sosa Joseph

Soumik Nandy Majumdar, art historian, Santiniketan

Srajana Kaikini, curator, research scholar, Bangalore

Sreshta Rit Premnath, Assistant Professor, Parsons Fine Arts, New York

Subba Ghosh, artist, Delhi

Subodh Gupta, artist, Delhi

Subodh Singh Triparti, art history, sculpture, JNAFAU, Hyderabad

Sudarshan Shetty, artist, Mumbai

Sudhir Patwardhan, artist, Mumbai

Sudipta Sen, artist, Kolkata

Sugata Ray, art historian, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Suguresh Sultanpur, artist, Baroda

Suhas Nimbalkar, artist, Pune

Suman Gopinath, curator, Bangalore

Sumathi Ramaswamy, historian, visual culture, Duke Univ., USA

Sumedh Rajendran, artist, Delhi

Sumesh Sharma, curator, Clark House Initiative, Mumbai

Suneel Sinha,theatre, film & TV worker, Mumbai

Sunil Kothari, Delhi

Surekha, artist, Bangalore

Surendran Nair, artist, Baroda

Suresh B.V., artist, Baroda

Suresh Jayaram, art historian, Bangalore

Susan S. Bean, independent curator, USA

Swati Khurana, artist ,New York

Tallur L.N., artist, Kundapura

Tanmoy Samanta, artist, Delhi

Tanuja Rane, artist, Mumbai

Tara Sabharwal, artist, Delhi

Tunty Chauhan,Threshold Art Gallery , Delhi

Tushar Joag, artist, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida

Udeya Vir Singh, artist, Bangalore

Uma Shankar Pathak, artist, Delhi

Umar Aman, Delhi

Urvi Khanna, Delhi

Ushmita Sahu, artist, curator, Santiniketan

Ushmita Sahu, artist, curator, Santiniketan

Manjari Chakravarti, artist, Santiniketan

Vaishali Narkar, artist, Mumbai

VaishaliNarkar, artist, Mumbai

Valay Gada, artist/designer, Delhi

Varsha Nair, artist, Baroda

Varunika Saraf, artist, Hyderabad

Vasudha Thozhur, artist, Delhi

Vasvi Oza: artist, Gujarat

Veena Bhargava, artist, Kolkata

Veer Munshi, artist, Delhi

Velu Viswanadhan, artist, Paris/ Chennai

Vibha Galhotra, artist, Delhi

Vidya Rao, Music, Delhi

Vidya Shivadas, curator, Delhi

Vijay Sekhon, artist, Mumbai

Vinod Bhardwaj, art critic, Delhi

Vishaka Chanchani, art educator, Bangalore

Viswanadhan, artist, Paris

Viswanath B.R., artist/cinematographer, Bangalore

Vivan Sundaram, artist, Delhi

Yamini Nayar, artist

Yardena Kurulkar, artist, Mumbai

Yashodhara Dalmia, art critic, Delhi

Yashwant Deshmukh, artist, Mumbai

Yunus Khimani, artist, Jaipur

9 thoughts on “Statement by Artists, Curators and Critics Against Rising Intolerance in India”

  1. Also remember Safdar Hashmi, who was murdered because of his drama depicting anti-State views, also remember Cherabandaraju, atelugu writer killed in jail for airing anti-government views, also remember Dr. Ramanadham and Ganti Prasad… also remember those unnamed scores who died in encounters.. if rising intolerance is the basis these and more of these are acts of intolerance! Let all forms of intolerance be included so as to project a wider struggle…!

    1. It is not the violence alone that is despicable, but justification of it overtly and covertly. I

  2. I believe, Modi-government’s days are numbered. If this violence on Muslims, Dalits and other disadvantaged social groups continue, Indians will not re-elect Modi.

    This prime minister is either a fool or a fiend!

  3. It is because of this ignorant and non-supportive behaviour of our government, that art and culture is dying a slow death in our country…what a shame


    India and Israel are both repeating the pattern set down in Russia under Stalin and in Nazi Germany.

  5. It is not the violence alone, it is the silence and mockery and the justification overtly and covertly that is abhorrent and fearsome of the intolerance. It is happening in all hues and shade. But one act of violence does not justify another. .

  6. This comment came in from Sajan Venniyoor on the original title:

    “I just saw this post on Kafila, and I couldn’t agree more: “Statement Against Rising Intolerance in India by Artists, Curators and Critics”.

    Seriously, we must do something about rising intolerance by artists and critics, though I personally find curators quite inoffensive.”

    The misplaced preposition has now been relocated due to Sajan’s intolerance of creative grammar.

  7. And now more than 100 scientists speak out against bigotry.

    Close on the heels of one set of scientists writing to President Pranab Mukherjee on the rising instances of “intolerance, polarisation and communal hatred,” another set of over 100 scientists from India and abroad released a statement online on the current state of affairs in the country “on the issues of reason, tolerance and scientific temper.” The scientists include Padma award winners and current and former heads of several leading scientific and engineering institutions.

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