Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri spoke at the India Ideas Conclave 2016 held on November 4-5, 2016 in Goa, organised by the New Delhi based think tank, India Foundation.
Agnihotri explained the discourse on intolerance in India in one line: My dissent is better than your dissent.
During the course of the speech, Agnihotri recounted his personal experiences with the current narrative and the mainstream media coverage. He started off by speaking about the current idea of India in the minds of mainstream media.
The whole debate is that the old school of journalism, old school of politics, old school of filmmaking [and] an old school of narrative. They are still carrying a certain kind of narrative for India, this is how India should be! And in the process, India has died, there is no India in that idea. India has changed and they don’t know the pulse!
Agnihotri says that the ideas that used to come from the media, and the people who create narrative, are coming from the Prime Minister of the country and that’s why everybody is rattled. That’s why they are saying there is no space for dissent. He then goes on to narrate a personal experience on NDTV where he says,
When everyone started attacking me, somewhere as a reflex I told Barkha, Why are you guys behaving like an intellectual mafia? And that was the last day I came on NDTV and for the next half hour nobody gave me the mic.
He criticises the current narrative, expressing his thoughts on the Kanhaiya episode and Barkha Dutt’s rant about the space of dissent shrinking where he says,
Media people, especially the senior journalists are always justifying themselves, how twitter is treating them, …in the recent movies the role of journalist is where he is concerned for a person and not for a society as a whole who has become as an oppressor! And for me that is the Establishment, which is why Media today have lost the credibility to call themselves dissenters.
The speaker concludes on a positive note and adds,
The social media is the new dissenter, the common citizen is the new dissenter, which is why media is spending 90 per cent of its time criticising Twitter and defending its own position. So now it depends on you guys!
Watch the whole speech here: