Friday, May 9, 2008

A painter has his own perspective...

Today I feel immense joy that the Delhi High Court has found allegations of obscenity against India's master artist Husain to be baseless.

Here is an excerpt from the press report:

"A painter has his own perspective of looking at things, and it cannot be the basis of initiating criminal proceedings against him," Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said in his order.

Well that is one extremely enlightened judge, and I don't think he could have said it any better! I feel extremely proud that people like Justice Kaul (and many many others) enrich the liberal, free-thinking intellectual environment of my country. As to those who pollute the self-same environment, namely the imbecile right-wing parties, evidently they believe Hindu goddesses were created fully dressed and share the absurd feeling of shame that most Indians harbour about their bodies!

I've written previously what I think about these parties and their understanding of Indian culture, in the context of language. But in the context of behaviour and specifically sexuality, they are even more odious - borrowing Victorian prudery and passing if off as Indian culture!


Rahul Basu said...

Unfortunately in India today, perhaps as a result of coalition politics or excessive ethnic identification, this has become the norm -- James Laine's history of Shivaji, (that's one person who cannot be criticised in your state), Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, even attempts to ban silly movies like Da Vinci code and more recently Jodhaa Akbar. We are a nation of super touchy ethnicities!

Even the comrades are no better considering the way they have treated Taslima Nasreen. I actually don't know why I used the word 'even' - their record elsewhere -- in the erstwhile Soviet Union, in China today -- is hardly one of great tolerance of dissenting opinion.

The problem is that so often even those against banning do so for partisan reasons. The BJP is all for lifting the ban on the Satanic Verses but only because it's perceived to be anti-Muslim. On the other hand, they join hands with the Shiv Sena to ban Laine's book, their goon squads go around vandalising Hussein's paintings, his apartment and make it impossible for him to stay in the country.

As we get more prosperous, it seems to me, we identify more with our own language, caste, religion and ethnicities and less and less with the 'Idea of India'.

Sunil Mukhi said...

Yes I particularly despise the BJP's tactic of "supporting" the Satanic Verses and Taslima Nasreen, because they aren't supporting freedom of speech at all. They are just being mean-spirited and hypocritical and deliberately trying to humilate Muslims.

As to the general problem - it's because we Indians are horribly insecure. So much of current discourse arises from this.

I still remember an idiot student who said (Rahul B, you were present on the occasion) that the worst possible crime in his opinion was insulting the national flag. We tried to get him to compare this in seriousness to other crimes like murder, rape, looting... but he would not budge. None of those was worse than insulting his country's flag. Patriot, or idiot? Well I already called him an idiot, so I guess the contest is closed.