PRATAP BHANU MEHTA in The Indian Express:
“In Karnataka, four books, including the Sahitya Academy-nominated novel Dharamkaarana, have been banned in recent years because Lingayat followers of Virshaivism, assert their caste dominance through the ability to proscribe what they think is an insult to Basaveshwara.
“What is genuinely offensive is no longer a function of the principle in question: it is determined by how much power a group can muster or how much violence it can threaten. We will let genuinely offensive things pass in India, because there is little protest or the response does not threaten violence.”
Read the full article: The bans of caste
Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Ban the book on Basavanna?
I wonder what the same Lingayats will say when we tell them their leader is a big insult to all the people of karnataka!!
We should ban the ability of governments to ban book/movies/songs etc. It is a freedom of speech issue.
#1. can somebody point me to references where in the lingayats or their leaders said would riot if the books were not banned?
#2. all this is a dharma sankaTa/quandry for the class that has usurped governing & public thinking rights. the rest will see and see through and then adapt to play the game. if one historic character is sacrosanct, so is another and yet another and finally, all of them are sacrosanct. i mean, forget the big ‘historic’ characters, we cannot get around to discussing a tippu or a a’zeb in plainspeak without problems.
so what was the intelligencia thinking, others wont pick up on this game? what were they thinking that nobody will pick up the lessons of satanic verses, DH and the rest of it? what mayavati and this are telling the intelligencia is that two can play this game. if you are not going to say that there are no satanic verses only views then there is no way you can say anything about the rest of the other historic characters peace be upon them.
remember how the intellectual class of KA took to streets about an artiste in gujarat. but i guess late november early decemer cold is not condusive to protests and standing up for freedom of speech of a woman writer.
#3. reducing a practice an accepted idea to a charade is an effective way of demolishing it. hopefully all these absurdities lead to that. how about banning books critical of RK Narayan? anybody game here?
#4. ou can read read pretty good take on this matter by vir sanghvi here:
Counterpoint: The Taslima Controversy:
Even though the book had been banned, various Muslim organisations in India and Pakistan then took it upon themselves to demonstrate outside British Council offices and to burn cars — apparently to register their outrage that such a book had ever been written. Ayotollah Khomeini saw one such demonstration on TV and issued his fatwa.
The most notable aspect of the genesis of the fatwa is that nobody who called for the ban had read the book, except for Khushwant Singh — and he was ambivalent. Shahabuddin went by the Sunday piece. There is no evidence that Buta Singh knows how to read. And by the time the demonstrations began, the book was unavailable for the protestors to read, anyway.
Khushwant Singh’s view became the prevailing consensus and the widely-accepted liberal argument was that as regrettable as it is to ban a book, it is far better to impose such a ban than to risk riots and public disorder. No book is worth the loss of lives.
It’s always dangerous to draw broad general conclusions from a single event so I will be careful in claiming that I detect a tectonic shift in the liberal consensus. But even so, it does seem to me that we now regard free speech as more important than we ever have, that the Left has lost its status as the favourite party of the well-meaning but moderately-informed artist and intellectual, and that we are finally treating Muslim communalists with the firmness that we previously applied only to Hindu fundamentalists.
Regardless of how things turn out with Taslima, these are still positive steps and genuine gains for Indian liberalism.
you want a country to be respectful of progressive, questioning type of ideas – then question ideas across the board. no part of our community is holier than the other and all will quickly pick up ideas from each other.
they were all bastards. none of them became what they became by doing what they preached. – UG. (on B,J,M, JK and the rest of them god men…)
shrusti munche satya asatya yavudoo iralilla
aDagiddu yenu yelli
yaarigoo gotilla gottagodoo illa.
–naasadiya sookta rg veda.
yenna vaama kshema nimmadayya
enna hAni vruddhi nimmadayya
enna mana apamaanavU nimmadayya
baLLige kaayi dimmittey, kooDala sangama deva
The problem with us is that we are a country of a million gods and a few million godmen. We take our castes and religion a little more seriously than we should. Blind worship and taking to the streets in the name of religion and throwing stones, burning public property are all natural Indian traits. So there are enough people out there who take advantage of us. We are a democracy where even an illiterate can have an opinion on a book or a work of art. So who cares if a book is banned?
Might is right!
Intellectuals must learn to distinguish between wisdom and knowledge. Writing to gain popularity is O.K but writers should have social responsibilities. Writers should question beliefs on which people’s lives are decided upon and not the beliefs themselves. Individuals behave differently when in groups and differently when alone and we don’t need an expert to say that. The intellectualls would have behaved liked fools when in groups and in a most selfish manner in their personal lives while they act in a very polished manner when it comes to expressing their `Liberal’ thoughts in books and articles. History is replete with examples of such people. It’s height of intellectual arrogance.
Instead of being emotionally charged people need to practice tolerance and should be able to accept criticism and respond in a logical way. Everybody has some sort of social responsibility and the readers should understand that they are only reading someone’s opinion. If readers don’t get that, they should not be reading anything written by others.
Good analysis. And thanks for posting the vachana.
While reading it a scenario came to mind:
If the people who are against anything being written about their saints and heroes, lets say they were sent back to the time of Basavanna to live as normal folks with the prevailing beliefs of the time.
And out comes Basavanna questioning the norms of society, spreading his thoughts to the public using ditties which were very different from the accepted forms of propagating thought at the time. What visionary thoughts they are! But yet they question all the beliefs and norms and heroes. What would these people do?
Listen to Basavanna, give him a chance, and then decide to ignore him or be influenced?
Or imprison him and prevent his thoughts from being heard by others to decide for themselves?
Let’s put it the other way. Some hero of the calibre of Basavanna is born in Karnataka again (everyday we wait for this!). He starts putting things in our society into perspective again, simplifying things, showing us the path to solving our self-created problems. He uses some means of communication and compares and maybe criticizes the followed norms with what could be.
What would these same people do? Ban his thoughts from influencing society just because his thoughts are disrespectful?
Give everyone a chance to express their thoughts. People are wise, they will eventually decide what is good and what is bad. Control by mediocre self-appointed leaders will never last for long…
Nice post TS!
Like every other caste / religion in India, Lingayats have an opinion too .. though not a cohesive one like the media tries to potray it. Every caste and community has its share of extremists, moderates and indifferent sections. As usual the extremists get the most attention. On the other hand, the writers may not be as “noble” as they are made out to be. Creating controversy, berating a prophet / religion / caste has become a means to an end to the so called “upcoming” writers. I wonder if they would really be interested in writing a well researched book that may not get such attention. Fast money and fame may be all that they are after. Why doesn’t the media focus on an unbiased reviews of the book rather than on some politician / power monger’s antics. Doesn’t any reporter have the time to read the book and review it? Is the book so bad … How many people are actually buying and reading kannada books? How many book stores in Bangalore carry kannada books anymore? Should anyone even bother banning kannada books anymore? Should we even worry if there is a ban on a book? When was the last time you ran to the book store when a kannada book was released? Does this topic even demand so much attention from Churmuri?