Guest post by ANIRBAN GUPTA NIGAM
The hornet’s nest stirred by Ashis Nandy’s comments at the Jaipur Literature Festival might – hopefully – be dying down, but certain questions raised by the occurrences on the 26th probably require a little reflection on everyone’s part.
In the corporate and social media blitz, a lot of the details have been forgotten, excised and overlooked. Till yesterday it was not clear what his entire speech consisted of. The most quoted line from his talk at the festival is: “it is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the STs and as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” None of those attacking Nandy for being casteist or spewing hate-speech have in fact even attempted to explain the latter part of the quote: “as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” How is that a casteist statement? More importantly, media reproductions of his statement have excised a crucial disclaimer he himself gives at the beginning: “It will be an undignified, even vulgar statement, but it is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the STs and as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” Continue reading Ashis Nandy, Media and the Work of Acceleration: Anirban Gupta Nigam
Guest post by MEERA ASHAR
Ashis Nandy has been called, rather, accused of being, many things—sociologist, historian, political theorist, public intellectual, philosopher, psychoanalyst, leftist, centrist, right wing, Dalit, Christian, Brahmanical, casteist (he describes himself, more poetically, as an intellectual street fighter and reason buster)—but ‘politically correct’ has never been one of them.
This time, Nandy’s political incorrectness has cost him more than before. As in the past, he has been attacked by politicians and the popular media for presenting his analysis of social phenomena—for doing his job well. The response of the Indian intelligentsia to Nandy’s threatened arrest by the right wing government of Gujarat in 2008 was markedly different from the response now. The difference this time, of course, is that Nandy has not offended the right people. He is seen to have betrayed the marginalized. This time, he has been unfashionably politically incorrect. The similarity between the two episodes is the ‘freedom of speech’ brigade, which has dutifully stood by Nandy. But I shall turn to them later.
Continue reading Corruption and Political Correctness: A Severe Case of Intellectual Laziness: Meera Ashar
It is no coincidence that Salman Rushdie who remains the poster child of the censorship debate in India begins his celebrated Midnight’s Children with the twin image of the birth of a child and that of a nation. The rest of the novel traces the intertwined stories of the child’s growth with the political history of independent India. But if one were to extend this allegory taking into account the kind of public sphere that seems to exist in India 65 years after independence there seems to be something amiss about this metaphor of birth and subsequent growth into maturity. A strange malaise pervades the public sphere in India today, where it seems almost as if we have turned the natural cycle of growth around and the children of midnight appears to suffer from the malady of the protagonist in David Fincher’s film “The Curious case of Benjamin Button” where a man is born a mature adult but ages backwards and slowly slides into infantile regression. If we were to consider the unreasonable response to Ashis Nandy’s talk at the Jaipur literary festival as one in a long continuum of such cases where individuals are hounded for hurting sentiments of communities, the Indian public sphere sadly appears as a weak and sickly child suffering from irony deficiency. Continue reading A Guide to Infantalising and Trivialising the Public sphere
Guest post by SAJAN VENNIYOOR, our cultural correspondent
Threats from Hindu, Muslim and other cultural organizations may derail the Jaipur Literature Festival set to begin on Thursday, 24 January.
The BJP and RSS have threatened not to allow seven Pakistani authors to attend the event. “Looking at present Indo-Pak relations, it is unacceptable to allow Pakistani writers to be here as guests. We will make sure they are not allowed to enter Rajasthan. If they come, they will meet the fate of many others who have met similar fates,” said Suman Sharma, BJP state vice-president.
The Pakistani authors included in this blanket ban are British-Pakistani Nadeem Aslam, Canadian-Pakistanis MA Farooqi and Sharmeen Ubaid Chinoy and plain old garden variety Pakistanis Mohammed Hanif, Jamil Ahmad, Fahmida Riaz and Ameena Saiyid. Continue reading Many authors missing at Jaipur Lit Fest: Sajan Venniyoor
Guest post by FAIZ ULLAH
Highstreet Phoenix, an upscale shopping mall, rose from the ashes of Lower Parel’s semi-functional Phoenix Mills in the late nineties’ Bombay. It has since successfully emerged as one of the most popular shopping and leisure destinations for the city’s affluent set. Highstreet Phoenix is just one of the many mills in the South-Central Bombay’s Girangaon that have been leased, sold or redeveloped in contravention of industrial and land-use policies and court judgements especially in the last two decades. These large swathes of urban land, two thirds of which was meant for low-cost housing, civic amenities and open spaces, are being fast converted into exclusive housing societies, office complexes and recreation zones that only a few can access and afford. Such tensions, some like McKinsey & Company (of Vision Mumbai report fame) would say, are inevitable, even necessary, for the cities that aspire to be world class.
Continue reading Beyond the Four Corners of the Law and the Diggy Palace: Faiz Ullah
This release comes from SAHMAT, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, Delhi
We have watched with dismay the unnecessary controversy which erupted over the presence of Salman Rushdie at the Jaipur Literary Festival. We strongly disapprove of the threats – real or perceived – issued against the participation of Rushdie. The state has once again succumbed to retrogressive forces using works of creative expression for their own narrow, partisan and divisive political agendas. SAHMAT has stood by Rushdie in the past, when we defied an unofficial ban on The Moor’s Last Sigh by readings on the street in Delhi in 1995. Rushdie has been a frequent visitor to India in the last few years with no problems being raised. Indeed, he visited us at SAHMAT and was serenaded by chance by some of the greatest singers of the Rajasthani Manganiyar tradition.
SAHMAT is issuing an open invitation to Salman Rushdie to come to Delhi to deliver a lecture or participate in a discussion on literature at any time of his choosing. We will host him under any circumstances along with an exhibition of the works of the late MF Husain, driven into forced exile by the similar retreat by the state in it’s cowardly unwillingness to stand up against communal politics.
Did you know that the law had four corners? I didn’t, but whosoever writes press releases for the Jaipur Literature Festival does. Did you know that the ‘ideas can be exchanged and literature loved‘, ‘strictly‘ within these four corners? I didn’t, but whosoever writes press releases for the Jaipur Literature Festival does.
PRESS RELEASE SENT OUT BY THE JAIPUR LITERATURE FESTIVAL, January 20th, 2012
This press release is being issued on behalf of the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It has come to their attention that certain delegates acted in a manner during their sessions today which were without the prior knowledge or consent of the organizers. Any views expressed or actions taken by these delegates are in no manner endorsed by the Jaipur Literature Festival. Any comments made by the delegates reflect their personal, individual views and are not endorsed by the Festival or attributable to its organizers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Festival organizers are fully committed to ensuring compliance of all prevailing laws and will continue to offer their fullest cooperation to prevent any legal violation of any kind. Any action by any delegate or anyone else involved with the Festival that in any manner falls foul of the law will not be tolerated and all necessary, consequential action will be taken. Our endeavor has always been to provide a platform to foster an exchange of ideas and the love of literature, strictly within the four corners of the law. We remain committed to this objective. [via FirstPost]
Continue reading Jaipur Literature Festival – Requiescat in Pacem
This release comes from the PEOPLE’ S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, RAJASTHAN
16 January 2012, Jaipur: PUCL strongly condemns Muslim organisations, the Congress and the BJP for opposing Salman Rushdie’s proposed visit to Jaipur
Some Muslim organisations have opposed Salman Rusdie’s participation in the Jaipur Literature Festival. Leaders of the Congress and the Bhartiya Janta Party have also come out strongly in opposition to Rushdie’s visit. Some newspaper reports have carried announcements that Rushdie could be forcibly prevented from coming and attending the literary event.
The opposition is not merely ideological but is also by threatening to disturb law and order. The Rajasthan unit of the PUCL expresses deep concern at such announcements. Such regressive threats are not only an attack on the individual’s right to freedom of speech and expression and a violation of rights granted by the Constitution of India. Such threats also promote communal disharmony, if not deliberately seek to widen communal rifts. Continue reading PUCL condemns those opposing Salman Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur