Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Censorship Article in Himal, and Other Links

I have a short piece on censorship in this month's issue of Himal Southasian. Probably the key paragraph is this one:

While India as a whole seems to be marching towards liberalisation on both the political and cultural fronts, the future of censorship remains uncertain, partly because of a possible contradiction in the Indian Constitution itself. The very first section of Article 19 guarantees freedom of expression, but the second clause subsequently indicates that the government retains authority “to legislate concerning libel, slander, defamation, contempt of court, any matter offending decency and morality, or which undermines the security of or tends to overthrow, the State.” It is this text that is repeatedly cited by the state when it agrees to demands by religious groups to ban works of art: the security of the state. But security for whom, and from what? The irony is that the threat to security from censorious religious groups is the threat they themselves pose. It is hard to understand why the religious groups responsible for fomenting riots against offensive works are not being prosecuted, and in their places are writers, artists and filmmakers.

Overall, it's probably not the most brilliant thing I ever wrote, but it's satisfying to have one's views "in print."

* * *
I should also link to Yesha Naik's podcasts of a moderated panel I was on with Amitav ghosh and Vijay Seshadri at the SAWCC conference back in May. I was asking the questions for the first half hour, when I turned it over to the audience:

Part 1
Part 2: What is the writer's responsibility?
Part 3

Thanks, Yesha, for editing these and posting them online!

* * *
Enough tooting my own horn. There's lots of other stuff to read online this week:

--I found this extract from Bruce Lawrence's new book on the Quran to be very informative. Lots of basic information on the history of early Islam.

--I'm always a bit shocked to find how insistent the presence of religion is in some public school systems in the U.S. This article in the Times on a Jewish mother's struggle to fight open Christian proselytizing in in a rural Delaware district (actually not that far from Philadelphia!) is an eye-opener.

--A great article on Samuel Beckett in the New Yorker.

35 comments:

Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

I liked the article on censorship although you seemed diffident in recommending it. I noticed though that you don't mention the dilemma faced by the left when confronting this communal/social censorship in the name of security. You wrote about equivocation forced on the left because of its ability to see complex issues as complex when the Prophet cartoons controversy was raging. Similar things happen in India too. You could argue that the banning of the Satanic Verses was similar. As was the recent pondering by the Left Front govt. in Bengal when considering banning Tasleema Nasreen's Dwikhandita. The govt. consulted several leading literary lights of Bengal and nearly all agreed it should be banned. The courts eventually overturned the ban. But it does demonstrate the apparent conflict faced by the left. Being outside of it all, I must admit to not understanding the point of banning books. But I can see that the issue may be nuanced, akin perhaps to proscribing crying "fire" in a crowded hall.

Chandra said...

While not trying to belittle people of Indian origin (and others) living in the west, I always wonder if one talks to Indians living in India on how they feel about censorship in India. As Dutta above points out, may be most Indian artists are not incensed about censoring work if they think it will result in bloodshed (usually people who actually kill or destroy property are prosecuted no matter who they are - it's another case if prosecutors can find judicial evidence do so).

Isn't most of the discussion on censorship a projection of US-Euro liberal intelligensia values on Indians? While I agree that censorship doesn't do much in promoting discuss on difficult issues, what do most Indians think about it? Does it matter?

Chandra said...

Amardeep, I just saw a pretty lengthy critic of your essay by Sandeep.

In case you are interested:

http://www.sandeepweb.com/2006/08/02/amardeep-dissection/

Amardeep said...

Chandra, thanks for the link. I think Seriously Sandeep has badly mischaracterized my article, but it will probably take a separate post to clarify it. He seems to have presumed that I am criticizing the BJP more than the UPA government, but in fact all recent governments (including the Communists of West Bengal) have bowed to the communal censorship pressure. The state isn't leading, but following. Maybe I'll do a line-by-line critique of Sandeep's post tomorrow.

As for artists themselves, I've noticed the same thing with regard to M.F. Husain -- lately he's been quick to 'withdraw' works once there is an outcry. But my main target with this article is the root of the culture of censoriousness, where Indian religious communities -- Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and now even Christian -- find it incredibly easy to whip up a communal frenzy against a supposedly offensive work of art.

I think one could blame the government of West Bengal for bowing to the pressure of the Islamists who dislike Taslima Nasreen, but I think it's more appropriate to blame the people who are originating the problem: the Islamists themselves.

And Suvendra, I didn't mean to sound diffident. I wrote the article almost two months ago, and it's now gone through so much editing that it actually bears little resemblance to the piece I originally wrote! (I guess that's par for the course when you're actually publishing, as opposed to merely blogging, about things.)

Anonymous said...

Amardeep,

>>I think Seriously Sandeep has badly mischaracterized my article, but it will probably take a separate post to clarify it. He seems to have presumed that I am criticizing the BJP more than the UPA government...
Have you read my piece fully? If yes, please let me know where or how I've mischaracterized your article. And no, I never presume: as I indicated in my post, I read your article at least thrice in full and a few more times of selected paragraphs before composing my post. For the record, I'm no supporter of BJP nor do I have any issue with you criticizing one party over the other (if that was your intent). I've merely pointed out several glaring inconsistencies, logical flaws, and one-sidedness in your article.

Meanwhile, I'll look forward to your post critiquing mine.

This should be fun, thanks.

Best,
Sandeep
http://www.sandeepweb.com

Nitin said...

Amardeep,

Any talk of censorship must be seen in the context of the social incentive structure that has come to prevail in India. I've called it competitive intolerance. By succumbing to the most intolerant sections of every community, the state (and society) have signaled that such behaviour will be rewarded. It's a slippery slope, and India is way down it.

The correct approach would be to come down hard on the intolerant sections and create more space in the mainstream. That would mean not succumbing to any demands for bans and censorship. But the very opposite has happened in India.

So now you'll have people flaunting their intolerance as a means to secure political voice and power. All this was caused by a mistaken sense of secularism, and needs the very same mistaken sense of secularism as a fig leaf. Unlike in China, censorship in India is not merely an action of the state; rather it is political accomodation arising from a totally distorted framework of social incentives that reward intolerance.

Amardeep said...

Sandeep,

On second thought, I'll decline. I just read your Indebted to Dilip D'Souza and the long comments thread that followed, and I have no desire to have a repeat discussion.

My basic argument in this article was pretty simple: in the old days censorship was generally initiated by the government to protect its own power, or curb representations of sex, while now it is driven by religious groups.

You never actually address that basic point, or why you might disagree with it. It's a pretty basic statement, and not a partisan one.

Most of your post is disagreement with my examples, not my central claim: Rakesh Sharma, Anand Patwardhan, Gadar, M.F. Husain, Aamir Khan/Fanaa, Da Vinci Code, the Danish cartoons. You seem to think I'm being one-sided in my choice of examples, while actually I believe I'm being pretty balanced.

That's about all I have to say on this really. People should read my article, and then your post if they wish, and decide for themselves.

Nitin -- it sounds like you're agreeing with me. Or at least, I agree with you when you say that people are manipulating intolerance (or what I call "censoriousness") to whip up a mass-reaction that translates to political power. There are different ways to fight that tendency. One might be to make it much more difficult to have works of art banned by the government, so extremist groups are less prone to aim for that result.

Anonymous said...

>>On second thought, I'll decline. I just read your Indebted to Dilip D'Souza and the long comments thread that followed, and I have no desire to have a repeat discussion.
Oh come on, why should that come in the way of a promising debate? I really don't think there'll be a "repeat discussion." The two are separate topics, aren't they?

Sincerely,
Sandeep

Panini Pothoharvi said...

No matter how hoarse may Sandeep go screaming and writing paens of (Hindu?) gratitude to the culture of pogroms and ideology of communal hatred, he cannot make us forget the sort of provocative and utterly inhuman slogans that were raised uncensored in the very presence of Shri Lal Krishna Advani who was indeed the 'maharathi' of the blood-soaked trail of his dreaded ‘rathyatra’ – mimicking Lord Krishna and Mahatma Gandhi in the same cynical breath. ‘Baabar ki aulaadoN ko, joote maaro saaloN ko’ was the mildest of such slogans.

I distinctly remember Madan Lal Khurana in one of his election campaigns inventing his own version of Guru Nanak – the poem he attributed to the Adi Sikh Guru wasn’t his at all - and quoting it to his gullible Sikh constituency with messianic zeal. He dwelt at length about how Muslims married many times over and went fertile as part of their religious hysteria.

How can one forget that the Babri Mosque was brought down in the presence of the top leadership of the biggest opposition party – a demolishing presidium unprecedented in thje history of democratic India? Communal frenzy was never so menacingly organised, never so murderously orchestrated.

I also remember the once-upon-time socialist, Shri George Fernandes, viciously holding forth in the service of his communal masters to make such gleefully divisive statements as: ‘there are two types of Indians – secular and normal’.

I aslo remember the shaakha-waale (the RSSites) unleashing a sustained whispering campaign during the anti-Sikh pogrom about how the Sikhs in Delhi were planning to strike back thereby provoking further violence.. How can one forget their call to the domestic helps to stop working for the Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of India? Exhorting grocers to stop supplying goods to the Sikhs? They even organised a menacing 7 o clock banging of utensils to exorcise the Indian society of the ghost of Sikhism? How can one forget Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressing the BJP cadre immediately after the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage in the wake of the impending National Elections and exhorting them to raise issues relating to price rise and terrorism and forgetting to mention a single word about the unprecedented community massacre?

The name Sandeep is so appropriate. In Sanskrit one of its meanings is ‘one who incites’. It is also a sort of a paradox as it indicates unlit darkness under its own belly. No sir, I would much rather have an ‘eternal flame’ – Amardeep – than one that ‘incites’ – Sandeep!

Sujatha said...

The New Yorker link points to the NY Times article, the one you've linked to in the earlier paragraph. FYI.:)

Prabhsharanbir Singh said...

there is too much censoring in india because of the unitarian construction of indian state. we all know that india is a home to diverse cultures, peoples and religions. but the present indian state lacks ideological richness and originality which can harmonise these diverse identities. indian leadership seems to be happy at their ability to use this diversity to their own selfish agendas through riots and hatred. it is the responsibility of writers and intellectual to give a forceful critique of indian state on this point and to simultaneously provide ideological backup to build a better society.

Niketan said...

I had asked the questions below on Sandeep's blog, but then decided to ask the same here.

You say ‘censorship was generally initiated by the government to protect its own power, or curb representations of sex, while now it is driven by religious groups, and the government seems to have a secondary role.’
Is the ban Anand Patwardhan’s film War and Peace religious or political. There are national security issues involved here. Surely the govt has to step in when national security issues are being discussed.
Second - is it a ban or was it only prevented from being shown in a Film festival? I do not know for sure, but there is a difference between the two.
Regards Rakesh Sharma’s Final solution here is what Anupam Kher who was the then chief of the censor boardhas to say:
http://www.rediff.com/movies/2004/oct/21minter.htm

Further in your article you say :
One could argue that a number of communally-inflected films were indeed released in the 1990s and early 2000s

- You mentioned Gadar (as Sandeep has mentioned it is anti-Pakistan but not communal - unless you seriously believe - Anti PAkistan = Anti Muslim = Anti Islam as Shyam Benegal believes) but can you mention any other movie. Let us get down to specifics rather than just making general statements.

What about images that are specifically created to offend, such as the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed?
- I am repeating this but please specify why Hussein’s paintings are not created to offend but the Danish cartoons are. In fact Hussein is the bigger culprit in this case. The Danish cartoonist comes from a country and culture which allows parodying of its own God and religion. But Hussein is very much in India and is fully aware what would happen to him if he drew offensive images of his own religion’s symbols.(See the Meenaxi incident mentioned earlier) Should he then not show some sensitivity to religious and Cultural symbols that a majority in India attach some value to ?


Panini
Can you substantiate your allegations?
I aslo remember the shaakha-waale (the RSSites) unleashing a sustained whispering campaign during the anti-Sikh pogrom about how the Sikhs in Delhi were planning to strike back thereby provoking further violence.. How can one forget their call to the domestic helps to stop working for the Sikhs in Delhi and other parts of India? Exhorting grocers to stop supplying goods to the Sikhs? They even organised a menacing 7 o clock banging of utensils to exorcise the Indian society of the ghost of Sikhism? How can one forget Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressing the BJP cadre immediately after the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage in the wake of the impending National Elections and exhorting them to raise issues relating to price rise and terrorism and forgetting to mention a single word about the unprecedented community massacre?

In all the news items I have read about the 1984 massacre, there has been no mention of the RSS being involved. All fingers point to the Congress goons. In fact Rajinder Puri has even written how Vajpayee personally saved Sikhs? If RSS and the BJP had done such things would the Akali Dal become partners in the NDA coalition. Nobody in the media even mentions RSS connection to the riots. In reality if RSS had had even a vague link to the riots our entire secular media would have been hounding them in full force.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

The falsification of history is an art that the RSS and their cohorts have mastered. It is by now so predictable that no one takes them seriously anymore.

You may verify this fact with both Ajeet Caur and Khushwant Singh. Immediately after the massacre, a statement to that effect was issued by the Sikh intelligentsia to prevent a backlash in Punjab. This eventually became the biggest myth that floated around. Yes there were Hindus who saved Sikhs but those were as far from the RSS as Karl Marx from Guru Golwalker.

Vajpayee saving the Sikhs is something I am hearing for the first time. In fact when the anti-Sikh pogrom started, a group of activists approached Chandrashekhar, George Fernandes requesting them to come out to help diffuse the tension. Not one of them ventured forth. BJP and RSS was nowhere in sight. Only the left had the courage to come out and work against heavy odds.

The Hindu fundamentalists did issue calls to socially boycott the Sikhs. This is well documented. BJP actively participated in these programmes. You are citing Rajinder Puri whose closeness at that time to the BJP was almost scandalous.

The last words on the anti-Sikh riots have not been written yet. A lot of muck involving the RSS and BJP will come out in the open once the cascade effect takes off.

Anonymous said...

Panini Pothoharvi, only Soniaji, Rahulji,Priyankaji and Left can save the Sikhs and India, although Terrorism in Punjab happened when Indiraji was alive and was PM, but it was the evil work was BJP (sorry, it was not even existing that time) we can say... which party? ok let us say, when Janta party came to power for more than one year or two? Yes, blame it on Janta Party. All the problems existing in India, be it Kashmir, North East, Assam, Bodo, terrorism in Punjab, Naxals..... every single problem is the handiwork of RSS and BJP. Congress Party has ruled this country for such a short time, they didn't have enough time to do anything good for the country.

Anonymous said...

Hah...the ever-present Hindu hatred, Panini (somehow we jumped from communal censorship to hate pedaling).

That's right. Some how if only RSS and its cohorts weren't around, Bharat would be land of peace, honey, and milk that has existed for a thousand years.

Yes sir, Hindus don't deserve to have the birthplace of Ram - once you lose it, during the 1000 years of peace, you can't ask for it - those murdering lunatics and inciteful Sandeeps.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

Crumbs of poor and flawed information thrown my way. Am I supposed to be grateful!

To quote Bhratrihari:

Yesham na vidya na tapo na daanam,
na chapi sheelam, na gun*am, na dharmah,
te janaah mrityaloke khalu bhaar bhutah,
manushya rupen* mrigaash charanti.

Another form of human discourse the BJP, the RSS, the Bajrang Dal, the VHP and their myriad tubes and bulbs have mastered without any visible sense of embarrassment is mimicry.

When they have nothing to left to state they embark upon the mimicry of an imagined position that has neither been stated nor insinuated by anyone. You begin by ascribing a position - Indiraji, Rahulji etc - and then ridicule it. This is the extreme end of intellectual perversity they will not hesitate a second to traverse.

Poor BJP - that came into existence after the break up of the Janata Government in the late 70s - couldn't decide whether it wanted to espouse the path of open religious intolerance or the concealed Hindutva through the pathetic masquerade of 'Gandhian socialism' traces its lineage back to the knicker-dhaaria non-participation in the various streams of the Indian Freedom Struggle.

When they find nothing better to do they begin to claim Bhagat Singh, despite the weighty evidence of all his writings, as one of their own.

When out of power, the form of censorship they practise is far worse than the draconian laws enforced by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. There was at least a democratic space to fight her but these fundamentalists come out of their rodent holes like vigilante-fascists and vandalize works of art, libraries, film shoots and gift shops and gleefully pose for the TV channels and disappear at the first hint of danger. Much as I hate to do this, I have to cite the episodes concerning MF Hussain, Bhandarkar Institute Library, Deepa Mehta's film shoot at Benares, overall vandalism on Valentine Day every year.

If ever they get caught and are sent to jails, they are quick to write letters of apology to buy freedom. I truly look forward to a research scholar undertaking this rather tedious job of finding out how many of these knicker-dharis have petitioned the various Governments - how many from Veer Savarkar, Atal Bihari to Arun Jaitly - to be allowed to be free and how many of them have actually offered help to these Governments as willing informants.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, excellent call on not engaging Sandeep. I just read the 'Indebted to Dilip D'Souza' link you sent. That pretty much says it all.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

There is another problem that I think remains unaddressed. The more I follow some of these threads - and I must admit that Amardeep's is an especially enlightened and well-informed - I become more and more convinced that despite the shared pool of information regarding the sub-continent, the language of the discourse that evolves through lively and at times provocative discussions is very different from the that we deal with in India. I see my language - not just linguistically but language as a lived position - vastly different from that of Amardeep, Ana and Ruchira. I find myself too close to the heat of the fast changing cultural and political ecology to not get singed. In a sense, I am disadvantaged. I cannot afford to be 'dispassionate', 'objective' and, in a vastly different sense, 'normal' (as Shri George Fernandes so eminently is).

This self-realization becomes all the more acute especially as I hear the discussion amongst Vijay Sheshadri, Amitav Ghosh and Amardeep. I wonder to myself what the same discussion would sound like in an Indian university context - in GNDU, JNU, Presidency College, CSDS etc. I must admit to being somewhat uneasy. Not that there is anything lacking in the discussion. It is well-informed and adequately knowlegeable. But why is it then that I feel such discussions wouldn't excite an Indian University academia? I hesitate to give a plum answer but I think such discussions have a clearly US constituency in mind and as such lack in the sort of resonance without which such discussions wouldn't hope to succeed 'back home'. Already, one can sense, a positional shift between Vijay Sheshadri and Amitav Ghosh - Amitav's being a little more lived and nuanced. Amardeep articulates yet another position which is, as is to be expected of an academic, while complex and discursive, not 'resonant'. This has in fact led to the production of academic and ideological discourse in India - mainly by academics who have studied abroad - which does not always achieve the sort of connectivity it is expected. Prime institutional examples of such disourse would be New Delhi's Serai or Bangalore's Centre for Study of Culture and Society. We may also single out individual scholars such as Rajeev Bhargava and Ashish Rajadhyaksha.

Finally, listening to Amitav in Yesha's programme, I was somewhat alarmed when speaking about the role models he started singling out the Muslim icons rather enthusiastically. While I appreciate Amitav's desire to project a certain view of a syncretic, multicultural and plural India, I am a little wary of such inadvertent acts of 'othering'.

Anonymous said...

"When out of power, the form of censorship they practise is far worse than the draconian laws enforced by Indira Gandhi during the Emergency. There was at least a democratic space to fight her but these fundamentalists come out of their rodent holes like vigilante-fascists and vandalize works of art, libraries, film shoots and gift shops and gleefully pose for the TV channels and disappear at the first hint of danger. Much as I hate to do this, I have to cite the episodes concerning MF Hussain, Bhandarkar Institute Library, Deepa Mehta's film shoot at Benares, overall vandalism on Valentine Day every year."

The metay thrown at us. Isn't that classic - secular dictatorship is better than religious dictatorship. Apparently the days not far when the Naxalites - those secular dictators - take the country and give you space to protest. May be then you can cough up another memorized poem written by someone else to show what a smartee you are. I forget you have the true unvarnished history - never mind the poem then.

Chandra said...

sujata,

In case you are still interested in the article on Samuel Beckett -

http://www.newyorker.com/critics/books/articles/060807crbo_books

Niketan said...

Amardeep
Would you care to reply to my questions? I think this is a lively debate.

Panini -sir
Yes - let us wait for some more reports. For 22 years none of the reports have mentioned any RSS/VHP/BJP link to the riots - there was not a single rioter connected to the above parties.
The BJP was in power for only 6 of the 20 years.
Maybe if we appoint Arjun Singh as the head of the next inquiry commission, then he will surely be able to manufacture a report implicating the BJP/RSS/VHP.
Curious - what did the left parties do to prevernt the killings? I give them credit in preventing sikhs in Calcutta from being killed. But then please give some credit to the Shiv Sena. I know for sure that they were largely responsible in preventing any massacre in Bombay.

Anonymous said...

Panini Pothoharvi, is suffering from STOCKHOLM SYNDROME.No matter how much Congress misrule these "Nazi Secularists" will continue chest beating. These kind of people showing ostrich mentality is dangerous for the country. I think Mr. Singh should stick to the literary posts. He simply is unable to make a just and fair political analysis.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

Shiv Sena was paid a hefty sum as protection money by the Sikhs in Bombay in 1984. This is common knowledge and not one prominent Sikh of that time has denied these allegations. RSS and BJP are not mentioned in the reports because they did not directly kill the Sikhs. They merely went around hissing like toothless snakes - whispering stories about how Sikhs were about to poison the water supply to the city; how they were reorganizing themselves. These oral histories will never get reflected in any of these reports. If you have any sensitivity left, collect evidence of how the teachers in Hindutva schools such as DAV and Maanav Sthali Schools openly told their Sikh students how the 1984 massacre was only a trailer and that the main film was yet to follow.

Sujatha said...

Chandra, thanks! that was nice.

Anonymous said...

Panini
So now we are supposed to believe all sorts of rumors of what the RSS/VHP/BJP cadres did.
First of all I do not know how DAV has now acquired a Hindutva tag. I believe they are linked to the Arya Samaj which is a separate entitiy from the RSS/BJP/VHP.
If the Hindutva forces had so much influence then how come the BJP suffered its worst performance in the 84 elections.
Quiz time - During the 84 elections which party went all round the country highlighting and criticizing the Anandpur Sahib resolutions of the Akali Dal and calling it anti-national?
Which party put posters and slogans like Can u trust a cabbie? - alluding to the fact that a majority of cabbies were sikhs.
If BJP/RSS were guilty of spreading such rumors, then how come no sikh has criticized them or written about how they were guilty.
As Niketan has mentioned - the BJP was in power for only 8 years. It was the Congress and other opposition parties that were in power for the remaining time. Knowing their antipathy to the BJP/RSS/VHP why did they not take any action or at least charge then with all the above?
If some stupid teachers made those comments, then does it mean that they were doing it on intructions from the BJP, RSS or VHP?
Anyway I think no matter how many facts are presented they will make no difference to a brainwashed soul. Good luck

Panini Pothoharvi said...

Anonymous' faith in names - literally following the names that is - is indeed deeply touching. Anyone with the slightest touch with ground realities in India would know who are the people running these Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Schools. The largest constituency represented by these schools does come from the bigoted RSS and BJPites. I at least have done a field study as part of my optionals and have interviewed a large section of people who actually suffered during the anti-Sikh pogrom unlike you. If I indict the BJP-RSS ever so slightly for their devious role in the 1984 carnage, the knives are out and the position is trivialised as a pro-Congress position. Everyone knows what the Congress goons did as part of an organised, well-thought-out and premeditated attack on the Sikh community to destroy their property, murder their males and 5rape their women. But the RSS and BJP played the devil in the dark whispering 'inciteful' rumours into your ears. That is a fact that cannot be shoved under the carpet anymore. Everytime I mention this Mr Niketan and Mr or Ms Anonymous embark upon their tried and tested strategy: go on mimicking till the 'other' leaves the field out of sheer physical fatigue. My position is sought to be conflated with the Naxalite thugs, with the Congress and with Arjun Singh. That is intellectual bankruptcy of the 'devious' BJP-RSS kind. It was indeed the Congress party that issued those fascistic election ads in papers during 1984 - no one is running away from them. But this does not condone Shri Vajpayee addressing his own cadre in the Vithalbhai Patel House ground in a pre-election meeting exhorting them to focus on price rise and how the Sikh terrorists had killed 800 Hindus in Punjab - assuming complete amnesia over the unprecedented massacre that had happened only a few weeks ago in Delhi?

These 'stupid' teachers that you so conveniently invoke as exceptions were in fact the rule. It was all over - this vitiation of the cultural fabric for which Congress should take the major blame but to which RSS-BJP cadres also contributed generously. If you have any desire, go over the RSS dossiers of that period and assess for yourself as to whom the RSS had supported during the 1984 elections.The reason why the BJP lost those elections so badly is attributable to the fact of their own committed cadre voting en masse for the murderous Congress.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

Within the parameters of the discussion on censorship, the question about provocative slogans and speeches such as:

1) Baabar ki aulaadoN ko joote maaro saaloN ko (Advani's Rathyatra anthem)
2) Dukki Tikki khehn* nayiN den*i, sir te pagRi rehn* nayiN den*i (Vishwa Hindu Parishad's slogan during the crusade against the Sikhs at the time of the Asian Games)
3) KaNgha kes aur kirpaan, bhejo naai ki dukaan (Vishwa Hindu Parishad's slogan during the crusade against the Sikhs at the time of the Asian Games)
4) Bhindranwale's endlessly venomous anti-Hindi speeches from the Manji Sahib, Amritsar
5) Uma Bharti's, Ritambhra's, Togadia's and Narendra Modi's highly racist and inflammatory speeches during the anti-Muslim crusade of the Sangh Parivar
6) Imam Bukhari's dangerously mindless rhetoric from the precints of Delhi's Jama Masjid

remains unanswered. How is the state to deal with such vehement expressions of racist intolerance?

Archana said...

That Times article is very well-written and very sad. I had no idea there was so much litigation, although it's ultimately not surprising given the clear violation of the Constitution. Reminds me of growing up as one of only two Hindus in a huge high school class in central Florida... thanks for bringing attention to a very important issue, particularly for those of us in the South Asian community.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

I have finally been able to muster a little courage to actually finish reading Niketan’s earlier letter in which he asks:

Is the ban Anand Patwardhan’s film War and Peace religious or political.

Obviously the ban is the result of a politics of religious hubris. There is absolutely no point in being wilfully naïve.

There are national security issues involved here. Surely the govt has to step in when national security issues are being discussed.

And, pray, what are these national security issues? What are these issues of national security which doesn’t ever take the people of the nation into confidence leave alone seeking their opinion on an issue of national importance.

Second - is it a ban or was it only prevented from being shown in a Film festival?

The film has actually been stopped from being shown on the National TV network. People like Niketan have actually mastered the art of banning a film without banning it.

I do not know for sure, but there is a difference between the two.
Regards Rakesh Sharma’s Final solution here is what Anupam Kher who was the then chief of the censor boardhas to say:

Nor does for that matter Mr Anupam Kher

One could argue that a number of communally-inflected films were indeed released in the 1990s and early 2000s. You mentioned Gadar (as Sandeep has mentioned it is anti-Pakistan but not communal - unless you seriously believe - Anti PAkistan = Anti Muslim = Anti Islam as Shyam Benegal believes) but can you mention any other movie. Let us get down to specifics rather than just making general statements.

To give you just two exaples:

a) Tezaab by N Chandra shows six Muslims characters all six of whom have to die either defending or protecting the Hindu protagonist. In these films the very piety of the Muslim characters is scoffed at and insinuatively conflated with the very source of evil amongst the Muslims.
b) I would also like to mention another film, Gardish, by Priyadarshan in which the piety of Billa Gilani – a Muslim – is similarly trivialised

The Danish cartoonist comes from a country and culture which allows parodying of its own God and religion. But Hussein is very much in India and is fully aware what would happen to him if he drew offensive images of his own religion’s symbols.(See the Meenaxi incident mentioned earlier) Should he then not show some sensitivity to religious and Cultural symbols that a majority in India attach some value to ?

How touching indeed! Firstly, Mr Hussain has been hounded out of India and he now lives in Dubai. Secondly, Hussain has not lampooned any of our Hindu Gods or Goddesses. If he had any knowledge of out pictographic history, he would not raise these utterly ignorant questions. He should go and see for himself how the effigies of Goddess Durga are created in Kolkotta’s Bowbazaar before even holding forth on Hussain.

Problems with the likes of Niketan and Mr/Ms Anonymous is that their knowledge of Hinduism does not even match upto an acceptable recitation of the Gayatri Mantra.

Anonymous said...

panini Pothoharvi, why doesn't you go and live in a truely liberated country like Saudi Arebia or Iran and write about their religion? Or why don't the Sikhs, who came from Pakistan during partition go back there? They will be truely liberated in the Land of Pure. Why did they CHOSE to come to India in 1947? We were happy with those Sikhs who were already here.

Panini Pothoharvi said...

More mimicry and convoluted discourse from Mr/Ms Anonymous! More supercilious assumptions. Am I Sikh? No, I am not! Am I a Hindu? Well, I don't quite know!

I do not agree with Mr/Ms Anonymous about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan being truly liberated and all that Mr/Ms Anonymous would have us believe. In any case there is no question of my forsaking my country even if it was the most repressive state possible. I fully understand Mr/Ms Anonymous's wish to drive away all the Sikhs who came from the other side of Punjab back to what is now Pakistan. This is the cherished dream of many a Sanghi. So I am not unduly perturbed. I was born in Delhi, brought up in Punjab and for higher studies went to Mumbai. As a student of engineering I went into linguistics, literature, anthropolgy and Sanskrit. So that makes me a truly strange creature. I know this land requires some diehard secularists and I believe I am one. Your whisperings into my ears will carry absolutely no weight Mr/Ms Anonymous. I am much too well-read for the likes of you to crack under your insensitive wisecracks!

Anonymous said...

panini,

Interesting but can you define secularism?

>>I am much too well-read for the likes of you to crack under your insensitive wisecracks!
You say this and in the same breath, also say this:
>>Problems with the likes of Niketan and Mr/Ms Anonymous is that their knowledge of Hinduism does not even match upto an acceptable recitation of the Gayatri Mantra.
Now, a well-read person like you would also possess a decent knowledge of the art of logical debate. So what gives you the wherewithal to assume that Niketan et al don't have the knowledge you assumed they don't have?

Sandeep

Panini Pothoharvi said...

That was a general statement. But there is such a thing as symptomatic reading. The disease is betrayed by the symptoms. With regard to the Sanghis biraadraan and sisteraan, this can be illustrated so easily. Till date they have not been able to decipher what it was they performed at Ayodhya on 6th December, 1992 - was it a kaarseva or a karseva. Mr Atal Bihari keeps switching between the two forms of seva - congenital trishangku that he is. Mr LK Advani's dilemma has remained the same. As someone born in a Hindu family (but not a practising Hindu) and as someone who knows Sanskrit (but renounces the rituals), I know how little the bigotted Hindus like the Mr/Ms Anonymous and Sandeep know thie own scriptures and how atrocious they are when it comes to reciting their own mantras!

I have absolutely no polemical need or existential desire or even a nit-picker's inclination (so characteristic of the Sanghis) to enter into a debate about what secularism is. One does not discuss coexistence and plurality with the followers of Adolf Hitler.

Anonymous said...

Panini,

>>One does not discuss coexistence and plurality with the followers of Adolf Hitler.
Thank you. You've provided me with the answer I was looking for. You're truly an Englightened One.


Sandeep

Niketan said...

Panini-sir
Thanks for the compliments. Anyway your replies surely made for entertaining reading.