My op-ed in Mail Today: Cultural Liberalism

This was the same piece that was published in Pragati, but enhanced with few hundred words, based on suggestions from Ranjith and Oldtimer. Also thanks to Nitin for first publishing it in Pragati.

Governments usually ban books and movies when they think 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. The Communists became a pot among kettles when they banned Taslima Nasreen’s book Dwikhandito in West Bengal and when Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya ordered the cancellation of the screening of “Taurus”, a film which showed Lenin in a less admirable light. With all these bans, the governments made it clear that they would rather appease than take an honorable stand.

As usual there will be mob violence and selective outrage, but let not the Iranian Ayatollahs and Bangladeshi fundamentalists be our role models. Instead, it is illuminating to read these lines which Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul wrote in the M.F. Hussain verdict, “A liberal tolerance of a different point of view causes no damage. It means only a greater self restraint. Diversity in expression of views whether in writings, paintings or visual media encourages debate. A debate should never be shut out.”[JPG/PDF]

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