In his book, Shivaji : Hindu King in Islamic India, James W. Laine presented a non-flattering view of Shivaji.
Shivaji remains a “mountain rat”, a guerrilla of the hills and a narrow-minded fanatic Hindu rebel who, animated by vaulting ambitions and animus, had indulged recklessly in plunder for the gratification of his vanity.[An image that might be disturbing]
This book sparked so much controversy that the publisher withdrew the book from the Indian market. Historian Shrikant Bahulkar, who was thanked by Laine had his face blackened by Shiv Sena folks. Then a group called Sambhaji Brigade attacked Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
When it comes to controversial books, banning and burning are two activities we do with enthusiasam. Soon after the Satanic Verses was published, India was one of the first countries to ban the book. Similarly exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen’s book Lajja was banned by the West Bengal Govt.
The new controversy is not over a book, but on a movie based on a controversial book – Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Several Catholic groups in India have threatened to shutdown cinema halls showing the movie and All-India Sunni Jamiyat-ul-Ulema has come out in support of the protestors.
“If the government doesn’t do anything, we will try our own ways of stopping the film from being shown,” said Syed Noori, president of Mumbai-based Raza Academy, a Muslim cultural organization that often organizes protests on issues concerning Islam. “We are prepared for violent protests in India if needed.”
Several Indian Christian groups have said they would protest against the film, with one little known Catholic organization even calling on Christians to begin a fast until death.
Last week, small groups of protesters marched in Mumbai and burned a copy of the book. [“Da Vinci” unites Indian Muslims and Christians]
I wonder if Amartya Sen still believes in the Argumentative Indian?