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True secularism means casting regressive ideas from any community away, says Javed Akhtar

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The renowned screenwriter, lyricist and poet was speaking at a special event to celebrate his upcoming 75th birthday.

File photo (Shutterbugs Images)

Keyur Seta

A limited-edition Javed Akhtar pen was launched in Mumbai at a special event last evening ahead of his 75th birthday, which falls on 17 January.

The renowned screenwriter, lyricist and poet also took part in an interaction with filmmaker Sudhir Mishra who posed questions on the political turmoil the country is going through.

Javed Akhtar did not mince his words. “Of course we have earned whatever we are getting today," he responded. "There are many things. We abdicated our responsibilities, particularly the educated people. They sat in their living rooms and discussed politics, but they never really came out and spoke boldly.”

Without naming any organizations, he also slammed "minority appeasement". “The communal issue you are seeing today is a result of the wrong concept of secularism," Javed Akhtar said. "We have a very wrong concept of secularism. Secularism for the so-called secular parties meant defending minority fundamentalism. That is not secularism and they are paying for it.”

Javed Akhtar being felicitated at the event

Explaining what secularism ought to mean, he said, “Secularism means keeping equal distance from all regressive ideas from any community. As long as you treat the minorities with kid gloves, you create problems not only for yourself but for the minorities as well. This is what we have done for a very long time.”

Javed Akhtar has been vocal on issues pertaining to the country's polity irrespective of the party in power. He also blamed people who say they are "not interested" in politics for the current situation.

“People say, ‘I am not interested in politics.’ It is a meaningless statement,” the litterateur asserted. “It’s like saying ‘I am not interested in pollution’. But it is going to spread. Whether you are interested or not, you are living in pollution.”