Now Uttarakhand historian Shekhar Pathak announces decision to return his Padma Shri
Noted historian from Uttarakhand Shekhar Pathak today announced his decision to return Padma Shri in protest against what they call the “atmosphere of growing intolerance” in the country.
He is the second public intellectual from Uttarakhand to return his award after noted writer and Nayantara Sehgal, niece of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Announcing the decision at the ongoing 4th Nainital Film Festival which got began in the tourist town today, Mr Pathak said his move was in “protest against the atmosphere of growing intolerance in the country and the neglect of the Himalayan region”.
He said being the son of the Himalayas returning the award was also his way of registering his protest against the “loot” of its resources. A historian, writer and acdemician from Uttarakhand, Pathak was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007.
Also known for his concern for the environment, he founded “People’s Association for Himalaya Area Research (PAHAR), a Nainital-based a non-profit organization for research on Himalayan people, established in 1983. He also edits an annnual journal published by it.
In 2007, he took up a three-year project to study the Himalayan people along with Magsaysay Award winner, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, traversing the Himalayas, from Leh to Arunachal.
Dozens of public intellectuals, including writers, filmmakers, historians and scientists, have returned honours in the past weeks protesting what they call “growing intolerance”.