Governments usually ban books and movies when they think that it has or can upset religious sentiments resulting in a break down in law and order. While that may be the official reason, the ground reality is that it is connected to politics. Thus by banning The Da Vinci Code and The Satanic Verses, the governments made it clear that they can sacrifice liberalism. On finding that James Laine’s Shivaji: Hindu King in Muslim India had remarks that were deemed derogatory to the Maratha hero, the Maharashtra state government banned the book, showing that it is not just minority appeasement at work. Maharashtra’s ban also showed that laws made by local authorities might not be an obvious cure, but opportunities for customised pandering.
Our constitution writers were clear that democracy is meaningless without freedom of speech, and that people should live in a social environment that permits maximum personal and cultural freedom.
Our politicians though, play petty politics with this right. Our governments, independent of their ideology, have indulged in communal and regional politics to satisfy vocal groups. Liberals must oppose such bans and question the judgement behind maintaining such lists
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