THE GREAT INDIAN LAJJA!

tn_hashi1.jpgHours ago, Taslima Nasrin, the Bangladeshi writer who lives in Kolkata after being hounded out by outraged local Islamists, has been attacked in Hyderabad by some men on the grounds that she is anti-Islamic in her writings. Nasreen has authored books like Lajja (Shame) that have offended the bigots of her native country.I have very clear views on this subject, as I have written before in my post The Sacred Right To Offend. I believe it is a shame that the Indian State fails to protect vulnerable individuals who have the courage of conviction to speak their minds. On top of it, the State is a co-participant in the suppression of individual rights when it bans her books under pressure of the Muslim vote bank. Of course, the Indian Government is impartial in that it suppresses the rights of Hindus as well, as in the case of the actress Khushboo, who spoke in favor of premarital sex. All the South Indian political brigands came out and forced her to retract her words. The Nasreen attack merely underscores the Government’s consistent inconsistency in protecting individuals from hordes who prey in the name of the collective.Today, that collective is Islam, tomorrow the public good, and another the day after. At the end, it is the individual who suffers while the rest of us watch and live our own lives. 

20 responses to “THE GREAT INDIAN LAJJA!

  1. God thats a big topic, a very worthy issue nevertheless I’m equally impressed by your articulative prowess and very happy with our boomeranging.

    Regards and all the best

  2. I agree with you @rambodoc.
    Nobody is above the law and hooligans should be brought to book, no matter what religion they are from.

  3. I have been thinking about this post. Is is right to blame the Govt. of India for this ?

    when it bans her books under pressure of the Muslim vote bank.//
    I dbt if the muslim vote bank is the reason for banning her books. Muslims are bound very strongly by their religion and thier religious heads. Its what they decide that becomes the rule and the law. Even the Apex court had to succumb to the pressures of these religious heads.

    Next , I blame the self professed goons who start a party in the name of their caste .To gain popularity and to be in the news they have to rake up some issue and bask in that glory. That is what happened with Kushboo.
    But , I really wonder why Kushboo did not file a defamation case against those political guys who called her names. She has a right to say anything she likes about ‘premarital sex’ or whatever. But why did she have to retract her words ?

  4. Sree,
    Of course I would blame the Government! It is that institution which has subverted the right of the individual to act and speak freely. If it was serious in its avowed intent to defend freedom, it wouldn’t place a premium on ‘public sentiment’ (that catch all phrase) and ban books and let people get away with assault and battery!

  5. @Sree
    These religious heads are self-professed leaders. They attract the illitereate unemployed masses from their corresponding community; sadly this type of mass is rampant among Indian Muslims. There was no need to ban Da Vinci code (in some states). There is no need to ban Lajja. I am an Indian Muslim and I have read the book twice – I loved it, instead of finding it blasphemous to say the least. Its all in your interpretation and perspective – and these two are easily influnced by speeches and rhetorics. So I would agree with Rambodoc in saying that the government should protect the of every individual. The fault is with the Govt.’s definition of Freedom where they have so many exceptions. I say Either everything is ok or nothing is. Freedom should be absolute. If there are restrictions imposed on Freedom, it becomes more like ‘Provision’.

  6. You cannot have a democracy without free speech.

  7. Oemar,
    Thanks for your comments! I agree.
    Paul,
    Thanks for visiting, and yeah, I agree there, too!

  8. Yes. Total idiocy. I think everytime this happens, the blogosphere should go ahead and start publishing excerpts from her controversial works (with her permission ofcourse) and spread the word about her.
    The goons have got to realize that this sort of thing does not silence people any more. With the social web, the victims can find themselves with a megaphone.

  9. Krish,
    And more important, this enhances the stature of the persecuted artiste. Look at Rushdie: I tried four times to read his books, and failed successfully on each of these occasions! I believe the man is unreadable….and now, he has only the Nobel Prize to win, or has he won that as well?!
    🙂

  10. I agree that in this issue , the Govt. has to intervene , as the gundas here are MLAs and they shd be ousted from power.
    But as for these outbursts against her ideas , the Govt. can hardly help. Its for the religious heads to decide if new ideas are acceptable or not.
    I am reminded of how sec. 125 crpc was interpreted later to exclude muslim women from its purview. As for muslims , its the word of the religious heads that’s the rule and law.

    @oemar

    There was no need to ban Da Vinci code (in some states). There is no need to ban Lajja. I am an Indian Muslim and I have read the book twice – I loved it, instead of finding it blasphemous to say the least. //
    I refrain from commenting about how other religions work , lest it hurts the feelings of others.
    But I sincerely feel that , more than the Govt. and the courts , its for the people to bring about a change and become more tolerable.
    when the Supreme court awarded maintenance to muslim women , it shd have been appreciated , not protested against . People did not rest till the law excluded them and their religious practice was upheld.
    what good can the Govt. do ?

  11. Was that really Krish Ashok commenting above? 😉

  12. No Mahendra. It’s the anti-establishment monster lurking inside me that typed those words 🙂

  13. @Sree
    Agreed about the protest against women’s maintenance thing. “What can the government do?”… the government can bring a Uniform Civil Code which is the same for every individual holding Indian Citizenship regardless of his religion or caste. This Uniform Civil Code should be based on practicality of life and not teachings of any particular religion. I dont know why we claim to be a secular democratic republic when the government cannot separate state from religion. Every time some law has to be made, they have to take in consideration the vote banks of upper caste hindus, lower caste hindus, muslims, christians, buddhists and what not. Why cant it be made from an Indian Perspective… for India and for Indians. The government is not helpless, they have just ‘choosen’ to be helpless.

  14. @Oemar,
    Great going, mate!
    Sree: have you met your match? 😉

  15. Well, it is easy to visualise a utopian society by sitting in an arm chair but a little pragmatic assessment will show us that the line of our thinking is impractical, you are talking about govt making laws but you forget that the govt is manned by us hindus , muslims etc so when your society is made up of so many religions and complex issues it is not easy to say what is practical, what is practical for you may not be to another, so where do we stand ?
    Necessarily a balancing act has to be made, I dont say that what the govt is doing is hundred percent right but there are so many issues to be taken into consiederation before some change is brought about.I strongly feel that change has to come from people and enacting laws alone is not sufficient, take for instance the dowry prohibition act the law says that giving and taking dowry is not only prohibited but also punishable but so far there is not a single complaint that dowry is demanded. This demonstrates how ineffective the laws are when there is no change in the mindset of people.
    When a law is enacted abolishing unfair practices or promoting humanitarian issues , it should be welcome with open arms.

  16. Ram

    Sree: have you met your match?//
    I never thought that was a difficult thing 😦

  17. Well first, from a ‘sitting-in-an-armchair’ perspective, everything and anything will look easy; whether we are balming religious heads or blaming government. Second, the hindus and muslims who make the laws are not concerned directly with the religion thats for sure – all their hue and cry for the religion is again related to their respective votebanks. So it again comes down to the same thing – problem with government.
    “what is practical for you may not be to another” – known truth, its impossible to please everone. That is why government and societies work for the common good of the maximum possible masss and not everyone. No government can ever make a policy which will be approved by every section of society. Doesnt mean that policy is not good.
    “change has to come from people” – yes, but even this is govenments responsibility in an indirect way – Education. Make this a fundamental right and then see. The change in outlook will come for sure.”but so far there is not a single complaint that dowry is demanded” – I do see some reports here and there where complaint has been made, and all those complaints have come from educated girls who know their right… again Education.
    Moreover as far as police complaints are concerned, we know that any normal persons shudders at the thought of going to the police station and lodging at the report because of police indifference and their bad attitude. I think the government and its branches (police, municipalty etc) need to change first, people will not find hard to follow this change for good.
    In the end, it is us who elect all these ministers by our vote. Some get carried away by their rhetorics and others out of lack of better options. But is there really an option?

  18. Oemar,
    The ‘greater good’ is not really good enough. It has to a consistent protection of the rights of each individual. When I say ‘rights’, I mean right to life, freedom of action and private property. Finito.
    Rest of all the other rights are derived and secondary. For example, there is no right to education. There is only a freedom that you can exercise to educate yourself as best as you can.

  19. @Rambodoc
    Sorry I know now which sentence of mine in the above post was misleading. The greater good wasnt meant to sound like the communist philosophy 🙂 What you said is right.

  20. Pingback: CAN INDIA AFFORD RELIGION? « A Twist of Word and Mind

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