Dr. Ganesh N. Devy (69), is a well-known writer, linguist, thinker, and cultural activist. He is best known for People’s Linguistic Survey of India (largest known survey of languages) and the Adivasi Academy created by him. Dr. Devy writes in three languages Marathi, Gujarati, and English. Dr. Devi balances the many roles of littérateur, activist, a writer with much grace and honesty. Most of his work has been with Adivasis in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
He is based in Dharwad Karnataka, where he started a movement called Dakshinayan (Southward). A movement of artists, writers, and intellectuals in response to the growing intolerance and murders of several intellectuals in India. He is Padma Shri and Sahitya Academy awardee. He returned the Sahitya academy award as a protest against the growing intolerance and suppression of dissent in the country.
Since 5th October, Dr. G.N Devi has made an appeal to young people in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The appeal is to make a resolve “to think beyond caste and religion when they start thinking of getting married.”
Dr. Devi has started a fast where he takes food if he gets at least 100 commitments every day from youngsters. If he doesnt he takes only water. He started the fast on 2nd October. So far, he has received over 2000 responses in just 5 days.
What is the idea behind this?
The idea is to bring together potentially non-communal young people and to work towards creating secularism as the main-stream thought rather than allowing the idea of the main-stream to remain hijacked.
I have appealed the consenting young people to assemble in Nagpur in the last week of December for a two-day sammelan ( under the caption The Mainstream-India). I hope to see large number of young people in the sammelan.
How is the response so far?
I do not want it a made into a public event, a media event or any spirituality-trip. I carry on my routine work during these days. It is a simple, practical mission of getting youth together to create resistance in the times of despondency.
The response has started trickling in. I have received about 1600 emails/ messages over the last three days from Maharashtra. I want to extend the appeal to Karnataka as well.
If you think hatred for other religions and castes is not desirable in modern society, if you believe that going beyond one’s religion and ethnic identity is necessary for creating a modern nation, please spread this appeal and encourage as many young persons as you can to respond to it. Let us all fulfill Ambedkar’s dream of Annihilation of Caste and Gandhi’s dream of creating true Vaishnav-Jan. Together, we CAN do it.
Dr. Devy was a Professor of English at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda from 1980 to 96. In 1996, he gave up his academic career in order to initiate work with the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNT) and Adivasis. During this work, he created the Bhasha Research and Publication Centre at Baroda, the Adivasis Academy at Tejgadh, the DNT-Rights Action Group and several other initiatives. Later he initiated the largest-ever survey of languages in history, carried out with the help of nearly 3000 volunteers and published in 50 multilingual volumes. He traveled across India to document more than 1000 dying languages.
The Dakshinayan movement follows the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The movement has spread to several states in India such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana, West Bengal, Uttara Khand, Punjab and Delhi.
His book “After Amnesia” (1992) is hailed as a classic in literary theory.