It’s only a book, not a Bomb!

The above statement is in reference to Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic verses” and the response the book has created. The book upon its publishing did gather a wide range of responses, a close competition to the booker prize of 1988 while winning the Whitbread Award for a novel, a few controversies and finally a fatwa. It is strange how even though as a country we offer freedom of speech and expression, a person can still be targeted for the same!
It is a weird feeling to know that there were paid goons on the lookout for Rushdie in Jaipur posing an open threat on his life if he was spotted anywhere near the festival. We do say that democracy is at its best in the country and a democracy lives upon the basic principle that every person has a right to express himself in whichever way he finds ideal. And Rushdie’s way obviously did attract a lot of controversy. Apparently it hurt a lot of sentiments and it has been treated as a personal attack on the beliefs of a particular faction. I am no supporter of either faction. My belief is just that if a view is considered wrong, at the max- ban that book. Why go about saying that a person is tainted and is not allowed to set foot in the country anymore? We are a democracy and we pride ourselves in the belief that we are a very strong secular country. But yet a faction gets to decide whether a person deserves to be in the country or not and to issue a public statement about an attack on him if he is found. This is a little scary don’t you think?
Well, how much hypocrisy are we hiding within us? A denial to M.F.Hussain who was forced to take the Qatar citizenship cos he was not allowed to set foot in the country. A great painter of his calibre is no more amongst us and now we can’t even take pride in saying that such great men are from this country. How can we say so when we are guilty of pushing him away?
Well, I do agree that every person has a right to retaliate to the views which they are opposed to. But there ought to be a way for that. Are we tolerant enough as we promise to be or is it just another cloak of hypocrisy? Are we sufficiently mature to treat a piece of writing in a neutral manner without considering it a personal insult? Are we growing ahead of ourselves or wallowing in a thought which doesn’t matter anymore? Well I don’t have any answers for these questions. They still haunt an open mind hoping for a closure. But end of the article, I would like to reiterate the statement – It is just a book and not a bomb. So please, let us read the book if we want to and shun it if we don’t. Why bother try and ban a book or hurl a personal insult on the author? Is it creating unrest anywhere? Is it leaking any of the country’s treasured military secrets? If not, there ought to be a way for the opposing views. Violence or bans is not the way. We are more mature than that, or atleast I hope we are…………..


3 thoughts on “It’s only a book, not a Bomb!

  1. GB says:

    What worries me more is the ugly brand of communalism in the guise of secularism practised by two princial national parties. Neither of them has moral right to proscribe an idea or a person, or subscribe to the principle of secularism when both have their hands stained by communal blood.

    What we have witnessed is hypocrisy at its worst. What matters is vote – votes of poor illiterate millions and the power that comes with it. Five more years and many more banishments and
    Tarnishes!! Democracy abosrbs and apparently matures!!-fact is it’s decaying from within.

    • Vinay says:

      Nija.. It has always been the vote seeking trend and the vote mobilizing thought. It hurts to know that anything happening around is made a political news and something to be used for their propaganda. Things seem to have lost their prevalence in the current trend, the institutions which portray a wider thought are either torched or dismantled and yet we say right to speech and expression. It is funny how things take shape and facts are opinionated to serve their own purposes. It is quite a shame that we are not able to do much in this regard… It seems a little too messed up 😦

  2. Vinay says:

    It has been an eternal issue. Unfortunately it is prevalent in the budding democracies. Last year’s widespread opposition to a book on Gandhi by Joseph Lelyweld. It was not any communal issue but the opposition was that his book had something against the normally accepted thought about Gandhi. And so was the issue of an ouster to Taslima Nasreen for her book or the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. They are all the news items of the recent past and the one common thread here being that they are all victims of a narrow thought. Just cos some people are not open to criticism or the thoughts are not mature enough doesn’t mean they get to be treated as pariahs. For me the question still remains, are we mature enough to understand the concerns and react to the real ones than the perceived ones?

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