Aligarh, Dec 10: Every right thinking Indian should speak out against the "politics of violence and intolerance" before the country suffers from irreparable damage, noted author Nayantara Sahgal, who had returned her award along with other writers alleging rising "intolerance," said today.
"If you do not speak out today, tomorrow you may regret it," said Sahgal,the niece of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, while delivering the 6th K P Singh Memorial Lecture on 'Unmaking of India' at the Aligarh Muslim University here.
She said that the ongoing protests by writers, artists, scientists and historians "have nothing to do with politics".
"What really is at stake is whether India remains a modern scientific state or whether it sinks back into the dark ages," she said, claiming that when emergency was imposed by her cousin late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975, she was amongst the first persons to voice her dissent.
She said that most of the writers, artists, scientists and historians who have returned their awards have never ever met each other and in fact speak different regional languages.
"What joins us, however, is our deep concern on what wrong is happening in our country today," she said.
Sahgal said that the major threat which currently India faces is a systematic attempt by present NDA government to "destroy the present system of modern scientific education" and replace it by an archaic system based on "half-baked history, myths and non-scientific theories".
Sahgal alleged that in India today "distortion of education," which is going on at a "very alarming pace", is a central policy of the present government.
"I want to warn the country that if the present education policy is allowed to continue, it is going to result in a future generation marked by ignorance," the writer said.
She said that the genuine educationists in the country who are facing the threat by the imposition of non-academic players "will have to stand up like an iron curtain" to save the future generations.
She alleged that non-academic persons are today flooding all institutions of higher learning. Sahgal said, "Anyone who stands up today and speaks for religious tolerance and the right to dissent faces the prospects of being silenced by threats and violent attacks".
The entire world including India has to raise a voice against religious extremism of different groups including Christianity and Islam, she added.