Thiruvananthapuram: If at all any participant of 'Agree to Disagree', the seminar organised by Kerala State Youth Commission, thought that Kerala might be immune to the influence of fascist forces, there was an eye-opener in activist Teesta Setalvad's speech. The applause that erupted when she started her speech saying, "Kerala is like a cocoon very far away from what is happening in the rest of India," was shushed.
"There is nothing to clap about. There are 6,802 RSS shakhas in Kerala, and we need to understand why and how this number is growing so rapidly. We know they have money. We know they have hate-directed politics. But we need to understand why is it that they are growing exponentially and particularly in a society like that of Kerala," she said. She said Kerala was no exception to the "frightening" situation in which hatred against minorities was becoming acceptable.
"I'm not talking about what is shared in public, but what is said in private," she said. While talking about dowry, she mentioned the numerous billboards she sees in Kerala which advertised gold jewellery. "We need to look at the ills within us, which we allowed and sanctioned to grow," she said. There is now a steady and bitter erosion of Constitutional values like secularism, harmony, dissent and syncretism, and Kerala, with its high literacy and politicisation, also needs a political re-education like the rest of India, she said.
Still, she concluded saying that "I still believe South will give answers." Activist Shabnam Hashmi also spoke at the valedictory function. Saying that Modi government and RSS network have been clamping down free speech on campuses, media and in parliament, she pinned all her hopes to youth. "Campuses are the only places where a thousand young minds can start the ball rolling in the reverse direction," she said....