For a moment of statesmanship
Manu Joseph in Open:
The Indian government, on the other hand, is a direct beneficiary of not only electoral politics but of the powerful values on which this country was built. If the Indian government enjoys far greater dignity than the Pakistani government, if the Indian Army general has to plead his case with the government or fight in the Supreme Court against it for a one-year extension of his term while, historically, the situation has been the reverse in Pakistan, it is because of the philosophical foundation of modern India. But the government has often chosen the cowardice of practicality over the courage of morality. And it has, once again, failed to stand up against religious thugs because it is afraid that it will lose Muslim voters in UP and elsewhere, who are crying hoarse anyway saying that they are not so stupid. It is atrocious that a representative of such a government will allow himself to be a guest speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival when his government has not guaranteed the security of Salman Rushdie. More:
It’s a two-way street
Namita Bhandare in Hindustan Times:
Three parables from modern India. A man writes a book that offends some people enough to ban it and, for good measure, demand his head. Salman Rushdie goes underground, in time the fatwa is forgotten, he emerges from hiding and continues writing and travelling.
Then, a curious thing happens. He is invited, again, to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival. His name appears on the programme, again. Out pops seminary Darul Uloom Deoband demanding his visa be revoked (in fact, as Rushdie tweets, he does not require a visa). It is no coincidence that a state election where Muslims are a sizeable presence, is around the corner. It does not matter that most have not read the still-banned Satanic Verses. Yet, a Congress spokesman replies cautiously that the government is ‘considering’ the request; others hint at law and order problems and Rushdie cancels his visit. More
Salman Rushdie and India’s new theocracy
Praveen Swami in The Hindu:
Salman Rushdie’s censoring-out from the ongoing literary festival in Jaipur will be remembered as a milestone that marked the slow motion disintegration of India’s secular state. Islamist clerics first pressured the state to stop Mr. Rushdie from entering India; on realising he could not stop, he was scared off with a dubious assassination threat. Fear is an effective censor: the writers Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar, who sought to read out passages from The Satanic Verses as a gesture of solidarity, were stopped from doing so by the festival’s organisers. More:
Vikas Bajaj in NYT:
Mr. Rushdie’s cancellation is the latest in a series of blows to free speech in India that have included a court challenge to Google and Facebook for what a petitioner claimed was content that is offensive to various religious groups, and a proposal by a senior Indian minister to prescreen content posted on social networking sites.
The Indian Constitution offers its citizens only a qualified right to free speech and allows the government to restrict speech if it deems it offensive or unacceptable to community sentiments. Moreover, the national government has often done little to protect artists, authors and others who have been singled out for violent protests by religious, ethnic and other groups. Maqbool Fida Husain, one of modern India’s greatest painters, died last year in London after living in self-imposed exile for the last several years because the government could not guarantee his safety from right-wing Hindu groups that criticized his paintings of Hindu goddesses. More:
At Jaipur LitFest, writers read excerpts from The Satanic Verses in support of Rushdie