Analysis Gone Awry

Amardeep Singh has an interesting article that’s curiously titled the communalisation of censorship. I believe he also runs a blog, which I tune into on and off. The article begins quite engagingly, recounting recent and past incidents of censorship in India, what was done about it and so on, but runs into few problems starting some place around this paragraph.

With a secular United Progressive Alliance government led by the Congress party currently in power, the central government strictures may have been loosened…

Considering that this writer lent support to the outrage that the recent blog-banning generated, it is surprising how he finds that the UPA has loosened the strictures because it was this selfsame UPA which initiated the ban. So where are the loosened strictures? It may only be me but why does this paragraph beg to be compared with the previous, which says

Between 2000 and 2004, the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, did its best to ban any film critical of its policies. The attitude is exemplified by the prohibition slapped on two political documentaries, Anand Patwardhan’s film War and Peace, which focused on the nuclear tests of 1998, and Rakesh Sharma’s The Final Solution, which took on the Gujarat government of Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots.

So, films critical of the establishment were banned when the NDA was ruling, but the “secular” UPA government guarantees total freedom, no banning, etc. So, is this the conclusion the author wants us to derive, or am I simply reading too much between the lines? As for Anand Patwardhan, here’s an interesting item:

In a letter to Director of Public Affairs of the museum, Elaine Charnov, Parishad, Gaurag G Vaishnav says the documentaries – We are not monkeys and In the name of God, produced by Anand Patwardhan – would “not only mislead the viewer because of gross distortions of facts but also help advance politically motivated Marxist agenda.”

Patwardhan, an egregious Marxists, attempts to demonstrate that Rama, the main character in the epic Ramayana, was an Aryan who enslaved Dravidian people and called them his monkeys. “Nothing is farther from truth. Not only this presentation tends to continue to advance the recently debunked colonialist theory of Aryans’ invasion of India but it also tends to create artificial division among the people of India along imposed on racial lines,” the letter released by the Parishad said.

And don’t we all know that the Marxists are the most vocal to demand justice for the victims of Gujarat riots but are struck by a bolt of silence when you speak about justice for the kar sevaks who were roasted in the train coach? Because he mentions it, Amardeep might be interested to look at this perspective regarding the Final Solution

After watching the documentary, one can easily make out that it is a crude attempt to exemplify and exaggerate the reality to gain political mileage. There are a number of instances where the director attempts (but fails) to intentionally misinterpret Hindi/Gujarati speaking subjects. Out of context statements make up his case in a notorious manner.

Then there are completely unverified, false and politically charged statements used by communists against the BJP that make up large part of the documentary. For instance, the documentary claims that:

“Narendra Modi introduced 7/8th grade history textbook that glorifies Hitler.”

It, however, turns out that the books was actually prescribed under a Congress government in 1993 and can hardly, in any case, be pinned upon the incumbent chief minister…

(Quotation marks mine)

As well as this by Great Bong written in characteristic style.

What’s with us as Indians? I mean just looking at this paragraph above makes me squirm . It also makes me understand why we have been invaded ad nauseum by Islamic despots and imperialist powers for centuries. That’s because we as a country, through the ages, have kept on producing enough traitors to keep our enemies smug and happy. Traitors ? Am I over reacting? After all here’s a Channel V ex-producer who after being associated with such a serious news channel has decided, out of the force of his own conscience, to expose the vicious Nazi-scale “Final Solution” type state-sponsored pogrom perpetrated on Muslims (sorry Moslems) by the apathetic Indian national government. (My lesson of the day: it was the “national” government which was responsible for the genocide—last time I heard the shrill barkings of Shabnam Hashmi and her ilk, it was the Gujarat government that was culpable.)

I must be a crazy right wing loon. But hold on, I don’t believe in organized religion. I also believe that Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, is a dangerous man who deserves to be behind bars for criminal negligence and for inciting riots. But I also believe that Hitler he is not—either Rakesh Sharma and his friends have no idea of Mr Modi or they have no idea of Hitler or what the Final Solution was.

It might be the later. The “Final Solution” was conceived at the Wannsee conference by office holders in the German administration to come up with a long-term plan to murder and dislocate Jews. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that even one murder in Gujrat was conceived at the state or national level, no evidence that it was ever a part of government policy. Because it was not.

The reason I stress this is because it is precisely here that the treachery of Mr Sharma lies. Mr Sharma knows the truth. Yet he, very mischievously, associates a term (Final Solution) which has a far darker connotation for Westerners (it implies violence as a part of government policy) with what happened in Gujrat in order to get brownie points from those who matter.

And who are they? The Western audience ! The people who don’t know better, who have deeply entrenched stereotypes of Hindus and India. Mr Sharma’s meal ticket comes in pandering to that stereotype———–of India being a land torn asunder by Hindu-government-orchestrated religious and caste violence (he has made another documentary on caste violence !). Being a self-flagellator and a dissident is a sure-fire way to get noticed in the place that matters—-the US of A. That’s where the dollars come from, not to speak of the soundbytes and the awards that matter.Me bad. I am ascribing motives to a noble individual. But am I ? If Mr Sharma really wants to stop the hate and the violence, should he not be in Gujrat showing his movie and shaming people into reform? Should he not be touring India’s educational institutes informing students of the truth behind the genocide. In all my years at Jadavpur University, I never once saw these documentary film makers despite the glowing leftist traditions of my alma mater. I however have seen them at Stonybrook, in NYC, in the valley……..the last places on earth where there is a need to educate people on the dangers of communal violence. Unless of course your motive is not to educate but to sensationalize.Sensationalize. Yes, that’s the word. The publicity literature above says ” state-sponsored”. Libelous. There has never been any proof whatsoever that the state sponsored or paid for any of the violence.

To pick up the thread of a strictures-loosened UPA government, Amardeep says that the

…state and non-state actors have already gotten the taste of censorship and bannings.

Really? Unless he’s not tuned into news, Andhra Pradesh was one of the first states to ban the Code, and this, before the courts ruled against the banning. Whatever the claims justifying the ban, AP’s Chief Minister is a proselytizing Christian who went public with a statement that he’d challenge the court’s order. The non-state actors’ part is to a large extent, minimal. More on this later.

Amardeep Singh follows this with another round of (predictable) attack against Gujarat:

And in what may be the most absurd case of censorship of all, the state of Gujarat attempted to ban the inoffensive film Fanaa – not because of any objectionable content, but rather because actor Aamir Khan had the temerity to criticise Chief Minister Modi’s government’s handling of the relocation of villagers displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

I’m not arguing that banning Fanaa was right. The fact that Amardeep chose Fanaa to illustrate the subject of his article–banning on religious and cultural grounds–suggests something deeper. Here’s the thing: Aamir Khan absolutely had no business meddling in issues he has zero knowledge about. While we’re at it, here’s the report card on Medha Patkar’s struggle . But he did that in the hope of scoring brownie points for taking on the Mighty Modi (=unstinted media support) and/or promoting himself as a “caring/socially-conscious celebrity.” When was the last time we heard Aamir Khan support Narmada? Why now? These questions are irrelevant to a great extent in this post. Which is exactly my point: Amardeep has done the same thing–he’s used something irrelevant as the Fanaa issue in an article on “communalizing censorship” as he calls it. If he had to really choose a relevant film, he could’ve chosen Sins, another movie banned for showing some err… happenings in the life of a Catholic priest. But then, no secularist worth his/her mettle will miss a chance to damn Modi, whatever be the grounds.

And now, Amardeep comes to the rescue of Mian Hussain:

Take Bombay artist M F Husain’s work Bharat Mata, which was the target of a nationwide campaign and court case this past spring. The central figure’s nudity is respectful and beautiful, rather than exploitative, but has nevertheless been adjudged offensive by the cultural guardians of India’s self-image.

This is truly amazing. On what basis did Amardeep conclude that Hussain’s nude depiction of Bharat Mata is “respectful and beautiful” on behalf of everybody? When does art experience become universal, at what point does the same work of art appeal to everybody in the same manner–as suggested by his use of “respectful and beautiful”–are just two questions which Amardeep doesn’t throw light on. One recalls the late 19th century and early 20th century Western art critics who termed Indian sculpture in such colourful words as “hideous,” “demonic,” “black,” “dark,” “unbalanced,” “unstructured,” “unrhythmic,” and so on. Contemporary and subsequent generations of art critics–both Indian and Western–internalized this and… well, I digress. What Amardeep Singh has done here is not different from what he calls the “self-appointed cultural guardians” have done: deciding for others. We similarly don’t need Amardeep to tell us if Hussain’s depiction of Bharat Mata is aesthetic or otherwise.

Millions of Indians hold Bharat Mata equivalent to their own (biological) Mother. How many liberal/progressive folks find a nude picture of his/her mother “respectful and beautiful?” However, these liberals will argue that Bharat Mata is not a living person, she’s not real, so it’s okay to depict her nude. Agree. By that token, is it okay to caricature say, the lady in the Statue of Liberty or any other symbol that holds cultural/sentimental/emotional/national significance, and pass it off as an expression of art and defend the “artist” who does this?

Amardeep Singh next makes a very convincing argument, which sounds balanced but in reality, is misleading.

While India as a whole seems to be marching towards liberalisation on both the political and cultural fronts, the future of censorship remains uncertain, partly because of a possible contradiction in the Indian Constitution itself. The very first section of Article 19 guarantees freedom of expression, but the second clause subsequently indicates that the government retains authority “to legislate concerning libel, slander, defamation, contempt of court, any matter offending decency and morality, or which undermines the security of or tends to overthrow, the State.” It is this text that is repeatedly cited by the state when it agrees to demands by religious groups to ban works of art: the security of the state. But security for whom, and from what? The irony is that the threat to security from censorious religious groups is the threat they themselves pose. It is hard to understand why the religious groups responsible for fomenting riots against offensive works are not being prosecuted, and in their places are writers, artists and filmmakers.

This is a variation of an oft-used technique at least in my readings of Marxist/Leftist writings: lumping everybody into a faceless creature named “religious groups” to prevent examining the specifics. It then becomes easy to equate riots/disturbance/censorship caused by Islamist goons to genuine acts of protest by Hindu groups. So, each act of Hindu protest–violent or no–will automatically be seen with the same lenses as one is used to see acts of violence by Islamic groups. Case in point: M.F. Hussain. For as long as anybody can remember, this artist par excellence has displayed his brilliance in painting Hindu Gods and cultural symbols in the most hideous manner. We’ve not seen a single painting that show the Prophet in a similar manner–forget that, he hasn’t painted a single picture of the Prophet’s face; I’m sure he knows better; the kind of “support” he’ll get from the media, intellectuals, and an array of eminences who currently defend him if he does that. Or perhaps his talent simply fails him when it comes to painting the Prophet. A fatwa will promptly be executed, and the secular gang will take on a sudden, deafening silence. Writers, et al should not write/paint with a preconceived agenda if they need to be taken seriously. It is an open secret that denigrating Hinduism earns zillions today and that Hindus generally take it in all docility. In contrast, a documentary that exposed a very real problem of Islam cost a filmmaker his life.

I don’t need to spell out what this mindset is called. Amardeep Singh himself betrays this mindset in varying degrees when he says

Certainly the question should be asked: What about images that are specifically created to offend, such as the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed?

So there we have Amardeep again defining for us what we need to decide as offensive where Islam is concerned. Here’re the cartoons “specifically created to offend.” See for yourself and decide. So why isn’t a nude Saraswathi or Bharat Mata offensive? Because it was painted by a renowned artist? Or because cartooning is an inferior art to painting? Or because the religious sentiments of Muslims are infinitely more sensitive than that of Hindus? I suppose Amardeep knows that hundreds of books that condemn, caricature and vulgarize Christianity exist today, and that the West pokes fun at the religion routinely? Are all those books/pictures/works of art offensive? If yes, why haven’t embassies been bombed, buildings torched, people killed, and so on, as happened after the Danish cartoon issue? Amardeep further “balances” the article by damning the BJP again:

One could argue that a number of communally-inflected films were indeed released in the 1990s and early 2000s – the worst offender probably being the Partition super-hit Gadar in 2001, which featured a heavily slanted representation of Islam and Pakistan. And yet, these saffronised films were rubber-stamped by the BJP-friendly censor board of that period.

There’s nothing “heavily slanted” in Gadar except perhaps Sunny Deol’s constant roar. Just to refresh historical (and current) facts:

  • The Partition was real
  • The Partition was the result of Islamic separatist demands; Jinnah did demand, and got a separate Islamic/Muslim state. Pakistan itself means land of the pure.
  • To this day, Pakistan wages Jihad against India.

For the record, there’s absolutely no scene or dialogue in Gadar where Islam, as Amardeep says, is represented with a slant. In fact, Amisha Patel, the heroine, plays a Muslim whom Sunny, a Sikh marries. Or wait, perhaps the film didn’t have the slant that Amardeep was looking for, which generally means no criticism of Islam, and now, Amardeep has added “no criticism of Pakistan” to the list.

And Amardeep writes something that generally qualifies to be called intellectually dishonest not in the least because it’s factually dishonest as well.

Though the current shift towards the ‘communalisation’ of censorship is not driven by the government, the government will have to take a leadership role in correcting the trend.

How does one start? If we agree that it’s not driven by the government, we’d be forced to conclude that a few religious groups wield the power to force the government to ban films, books, etc. However, Amardeep himself calls the present government freedom-loving (recall, “loosening the strictures?”), and other nice things. What then explains that not one, but at least seven (or five?) governments banned Da Vinci Code, and the Minister of Broadcasting tried to prevent its release throughout India? What’s more, this Minister wanted the “religious groups” to “approve” its release. Is this sufficient to disprove your claim that it is not driven by the government? Whichever way you look, all evidence points to the contrary, and I can only say Amardeep harbours illusions by saying “the government will have to take a leadership role in correcting the trend.” And further,

The maintenance of a censorship system in an otherwise free society is based on a paternalistic and oversimplified concept of what literary and artistic representations actually do. The paternalism is a holdover from colonialism, and is gradually declining as the authority of India’s old elites gives way to the new, technocratic, free-market order. But the misconception of the nature and function of the work of art remains widespread. It is mistaken to believe that watching or reading violent films and books will induce masses of people to commit acts of violence.

Questions:

What do artistic and allied representations actually do? If you criticise it, you need to define it. I’m not arguing for censorship–it should go–but I’m questioning the basis of Amardeep’s criticism that it is “paternalistic.” How is it paternalistic? And how is it related to colonialism?

Agreed, but Amardeep still doesn’t give us the true conception of the nature and function of art. On the contrary, there’s a mountain of scientific evidence to prove that watching violent movies causes violent behaviour. Forget movies, I’m sure Amardeep knows how Hitler had mastered the art of influencing masses with his famous public hall meetings, and how most Communist (and other) dictators knew that control of media–radio, TV–meant controlling the minds of people. And who were those folks who coined, a pen is mightier than the sword? I’m sure they weren’t comparing weights. Also that bit about a few drops of ink makes people think or some such thing. The latter was surely said by a person whose works of art find a place of pride in world literature.

In a mature democracy, questions about how to discuss religion ought to be worked out through public debate.

Agreed. But in India, only Hinduism is subject to public debate and….

I’ll stop here as I already have a reputation as a nasty right-winger. But I think I’ve tried my best to be polite.

Postscript: I read the article at least thrice. Curiously, I find that Amardeep has not defined the word “communal.”

35 comments for “Analysis Gone Awry

  1. Palahalli
    August 9, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    Kaafir, you touched a raw nerve. This deserves some discussion.

    My view – “Amardeep” will be interested in our affairs because he is a mere citizen of the US and *not* an American National.

    He is not one with the American Nation. He is a *minority* US citizen.

    If we ponder over these real categories in polity and relate them to our own situation – Hindu (Sikh,Jaina,Boudha,Parsi) National, (Muslim,Christian) Minority, Hindu and Minority citizens etc.

    Now a step further wrt – Political Rights.

    My view – Only *Nationals* must retain Right to Elect representatives. *Minorities* should have nominated representatives or should be able to elect *their* representatives to Parliament. Not to be confused with *Reserved* Constituencies.

    This can mean a *Minority* and a *National* candidate in certain constituencies. Certain constituencies only because *Minorities* will be represented per proportion to their population.

    As can be deduced – *National* Interest acquires a real meaning in such circumstances. Priorities become clear. Foreign and Domestic policy is no longer confused.

    What do you feel?

    Thank you

  2. Kaffir
    August 8, 2009 at 1:30 PM

    ‘Al Risalah’ (The Message) was banned in Hyderabad by MIM. I seriously doubt that Amardeep Singh would champion freedom of expression in this case.

  3. kaafir
    August 1, 2008 at 10:08 AM

    I’ve always wondered if Americans like Amardeep Singh even think why they are so interested in Indian politics vis-a-vis American politics – when they don’t have the right to vote in India. Is it ideological link or a cultural link that keeps them bringing back to India? If latter, then what’s the underlying reason for it?

  4. Mohammed Ather
    February 16, 2008 at 8:39 PM

    dear amardeep, it is because of people lie you that our country stands tall because people like modi have left no stone unturned to ruin it for selfish motives.

  5. May 5, 2007 at 7:53 AM

    fair post
    amardeep singh sucks

  6. Sandeep
    September 20, 2006 at 10:33 PM

    Sachin,

    Yeah. Free-for-all Islamism in India is also called “loosening the strictures.” Come to think of it, it’s pretty apt.

  7. sachin
    September 20, 2006 at 9:57 PM

    Didn’t someone in the UPA governemnt offer 50 lakhs for the head of the Danish cartoonist. This is the government the Amardeep Singh finds “loosening the strictures?”

  8. jiraporn
    August 23, 2006 at 8:24 PM

    I don’t know.

  9. RR
    August 6, 2006 at 2:37 PM

    “My basic argument in this article was a pretty simple one: in the old days censorship was generally initiated by the government to protect its own power, or curb representations of sex, while now it is driven by religious groups, and the government seems to have a secondary role.”

    Ah. So I am mistaken that your basic point was to defend censorship imposed by religious nuts taking offence to *cartoons*.

    However, even your revised basic point doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, because you seem to be acutely ignorant of history of censorship in India, even of recent history!.

    Governments by their own never impose censorship. The demand for censorship comes from one lobby or the other. And religious lobbies have always been the biggest influence.

    Quite recently, our honorable minister of I&B actually sat with a bunch of padres to watch Da Vinci Code in a theater (and then decide the fate of the film). This is is a new low. Never in the history of censorship in India did it happen that the government so openly and brazenly colluded with religious zealots to curtail freedom of speech. Even in Satanic Verses case, orchestrated riots happened first, and the banning of the book followed later. It was not like Rajiv Gandhi sat through a reading of the book along with Mullahs before deciding to ban it. He had the excuse of the need to stop violence.

    In another instance a year ago, the Marxist lunatics of West Bengal, in collusion with Islamic fundamentalists, banned Taslima Nasreen’s Dwikhandito. The ban was challenged in court. The government lied in court that the book offended Islam. I advise you to read the court’s judgement that struck down the ban. The court said that, far from insulting Islam or its prophet, the book upheld the ideals of secularism.

    All in all, your observation that censorship is driven by religious groups and not by government seems to be born not of studies of censorhsip in India or of knowledge of even fairly recent events, but your own eagerness to trumpet the UPA and Left governments as upholders of liberalism.

    You bet the demands for bans in Saudi Arabia are driven by religious groups too . I’m waiting with bated breath to hear from you that government of West Bengal is every bit as ‘liberal’ as the Saudi government, because it only played a ‘secondary role’ as in the case of, for example, lying to the high court about Nasreen’s book.

  10. RR
    August 6, 2006 at 2:11 PM

    “Amardeep stop hiding behind your PC and answer the questions Sandeep has asked you in the critque, for example why do you say that the Danish cartoons are created to offend (who are you to decide what is offensive and what is not?) but at the same time find fault with Hindus who say that MF Hussains are offensive to them?”

    The answer is short and simple. Amardeep Singh is in fact IN FAVOR OF censorship (of things he doesn’t approve) and OPPOSED TO freedom of expression (of ideas he doesn’t like).

    He stands for his own freedom of expression, of course, as also of the Islamists who burned bulidings and killed people over *cartoons*.

    The evidence of his duplicity is right there in his writeup. It reproduces Husain’s nude Bharat Mata. Why was it necessary to make a point about censorship with a picture deemed offensive by many? Obviously Amareep Singh thinks nothing of offending them. He believes that his right to his freedom of speech cannot be curtailed by the objections to that speech of those taking offence to it. He believes he has a right to give offence.

    Actually, I agree with him on that (implicit) point. Freedom of speech is meaningless without the right to offend. Otherwise, freedom of expression reduces to the freedom only to agree and to applaud. By reproducing Husain’s offensive picture, Amardeep Singh intended to give offence, to *provoke*; and he is well within his rights to do so.

    The Danish cartoonists too did the same. Even if their intent was to give offence, they were well within their rights to do so — more so in liberal Denmark, which, as we all know, is not exatcly our commies’ favorite secular-liberal destination: Saudi Arabia.

    However, our anti-cesorshipwalla sings a different tune when it comes to the Danish cartoons. He doesn’t want the cartoonists to have the same rights that he insists on asserting for himself (as in reproducing Husain’s ‘art’). He doesn’t exatcly say that the cartoonists must be shipped to Saudi Arabia to face a certain decapitation there (thank god for the small mercies), but he more or less voices the Islamic fundamentalists’ viewpoint when he so generously begins to treat “things specifically created to offend” as belonging in a different league.

    What gives? Mr Singh is in favor of censorship. The way he wants the censor system to work is like this: he will set himself up — or people like him — as the Censor Bureau’s moral cop. This bunch will create classifications and nomenclatures for various kinds of offence resulting from speech. Speech related to some of the classes of these offences, the bunch will decree, must be censored. Others must be allowed, protected and defended. No prizes as to in which category of offences as drawn up by the Amradeep Singh Department of Moral Policing will MF Husain stuff fall; and no prizes for guessing where Danish Cartoons will fall either.

    Guess who is communalizing censorship? The likes of Amardeep Singh. If only somebody would translate his article in Arabic and publish it in the Mecca-based The Weekly Mullah Roundup, he’ll get an all-expense paid invitation to give a talk to the Great Council of Wahabi Mullahs.

    * * *

    Postscript: Just as Amardeep Singh found Husain’s bharatmata aesthetic and enjoyable, I found Danish cartoons fun and worth a good laugh.

  11. Harish Duggirala
    August 4, 2006 at 4:34 AM

    “It is interesting to note that you don’t bring up the ban on the Da Vinci Code in 7 states of India, the ban on Lajja in West Bengal by the so called freedom loving Communist Party (more like Criminal Party).”

    A correction, I meant to say that while you do bring up the Da Vinci Code why is the Gujarat attempt to ban Fanaa any worse than Congress ruled states banning Da Vinci Code, is it because the former was done in a BJP state while the latter happened in states ruled by Congress?

  12. Chandra
    August 3, 2006 at 10:18 PM

    Niketan,

    Thanks for the rediff link to Anupam Kher comments. Gives a clear picture of where the twisted Rakesh Sharma and Anand Patwardhan are coming from. Its unfortunate Amardeep took up their cause to write on censorship. I think who ever barks the loudest especially in US, however undeserving, will get sympathy and support.

  13. Kritic
    August 3, 2006 at 9:49 PM

    I knew the far left was a bit “out there”, but that they have the powers to divine the intention of danish cartoonists….now that is news to me.

  14. itch
    August 3, 2006 at 9:48 PM

    Reminds me of another Singh who i met in DC on a project. He was a Sikh. He was ranting all this usual liberal tirade. He was using the choicest abuse on Shiv Sena for opposing that lesbian movie of Shabana Azmi{don’t remember the name}..
    After listening to his blabber for sometime i asked him would it have been ok if instead of two Hindu women they would have shown two Sikh women having a lesbian relationship?
    He was taken aback by this question and although pretended to be neutral was clearly offended. His fumbling and trying to recover was evident to all who were sitting on that lunch table.
    Point being, all these liberals and elitists usually are very touchy about their own domain. They lecture others on tolerence and freedom of speech. If you attack “their” religion they usually show their true colours.
    After that incident he would usually stay away from me.
    We should take the battle to these liberals sometimes. They live in their own world and with a feeling that they can impart wisdom to us lesser mortals by all these “secularism” talk without being questioned.

  15. Harish Duggirala
    August 3, 2006 at 7:34 PM

    Amardeep stop hiding behind your PC and answer the questions Sandeep has asked you in the critque, for example why do you say that the Danish cartoons are created to offend (who are you to decide what is offensive and what is not?) but at the same time find fault with Hindus who say that MF Hussains are offensive to them?

    And nextly how was Gadar communal, was it not true that Hindu and Sikh dead bodies arrived on trains to Amritsar, was it not true that the Pakistani gov’t took an active part in that genocide and was it not true that Hindus and Sikhs responded in kind?, if showing the truth is communal then I would prefer being called communal.

    It is interesting to note that you don’t bring up the ban on the Da Vinci Code in 7 states of India, the ban on Lajja in West Bengal by the so called freedom loving Communist Party (more like Criminal Party).

  16. Niketan
    August 3, 2006 at 12:45 PM

    Sandeep
    This post had a great effect. The author actually responded. Good work keep it up

    Amardeep – A few questions from my side regarding the following passages from your article:

    You say ‘censorship was generally initiated by the government to protect its own power, or curb representations of sex, while now it is driven by religious groups, and the government seems to have a secondary role.’
    Is the ban Anand Patwardhan’s film War and Peace religious or political. There are national security issues involved here. Surely the govt has to step in when national security issues are being discussed.
    Second – is it a ban or was it only prevented from being shown in a Film festival? I do not know for sure, but there is a difference between the two.
    REgards Rakesh Sharma’s Final solution here is what Anupam Kher has to say:
    http://www.rediff.com/movies/2004/oct/21minter.htm

    Further in your article you say :
    One could argue that a number of communally-inflected films were indeed released in the 1990s and early 2000s

    - You mentioned Gadar (as Sandeep has mentioned it is anti-Pakistan but not communal – unless you seriously believe – Anti PAkistan = Anti Muslim = Anti Islam as Shyam Benegal believes) but can you mention any other movie. LEt us get down to specifics rather than just making wild statements.

    What about images that are specifically created to offend, such as the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed?
    - I am repeating this but please specify why Hussein’s paintings are not created to offend but the Danish cartoons are. In fact Hussein is the bigger culprit in this case. The Danish cartoonist comes from a culture which allows parodying of its own God and religion. But Hussein is very much in India and is fully aware what would happen to him if he drew offensive images of his own religion’s symbols.(See the Meenaxi incident mentioned earlier) Should he then not show some sensitivity to religious and Cultural symbols that a majority in India attach some value to ?

  17. Ravindra
    August 3, 2006 at 12:07 PM

    Mindblowing analysis, Sandeep! And whats more, you shot down Amardeep’s feeble defence with a gentle slap :-)

    Great going! Unfortunately, the “left wingers” will continue with their mischief…

  18. Sumitra
    August 3, 2006 at 11:54 AM

    Sandeep,
    Excellent and exhaustive analysis! But Amardeep and his ilk are not able to respond back honestly or logically. When presented with so much logic, either they reiterate the same points or they will take the standard defense tha t you are a right winger! Does this mean right wingers are more logical and analytical in their thinking? A left handed compliment! :)

  19. Guru Gulab Khatri
    August 3, 2006 at 11:51 AM

    Well Amardeep is being 1 sided ofcourse.
    I did read his posts with all the ‘examples’ with
    amusement…
    and please indulge me and let me throw a bait Hypotheticaly consider a baniyas correct/incorrect interpretation in fresco of Baba Bedi masturbating….
    And also indulge the artsy fartsy pretention of a professor in some libby corner find Baniyas Jis painting an intersteng and genuine work of art….
    Do create your end scenarios….
    Either way My personal beleif is in freedom to offend….
    So if Amardeep’s reaction to pro hindutva forces offends you its you who is wrong….
    He does have the right to offend.
    He does not live in india.
    If you guys dislike it and want to offend some one rally for a change in the law…
    and begin some serious offending.
    It would be for better.

  20. observer
    August 3, 2006 at 10:15 AM

    Anyone who uses the word “ilk” or “pseudo-secular” is a nutjob whose agenda is clear Amardeep. Why even bother with people of this “ilk?”

  21. Kritic
    August 3, 2006 at 9:16 AM

    A very interesting, albeit lengthy, critique.

    Bring down the “faux secularists” of this world!!!

    Great blog, Btw…..

  22. Anuj
    August 3, 2006 at 9:01 AM

    brilliant riposte, Sandeep

    I hope Amardeep and his ilk realize, that such biased pieces are insulting to the readers intelligence.

  23. Sandeep
    August 2, 2006 at 7:42 PM

    Thanks for dropping in, Amardeep.
    >>…in the old days censorship was generally initiated by the government to protect its own power, or curb representations of sex, while now it is driven by religious groups, and the government seems to have a secondary role. You never directly address that basic point, or why you might disagree with it.
    I haven’t addressed that? Please read my post carefully. I’ve addressed it more than once. Here goes:
    >>Andhra Pradesh was one of the first states to ban the Code, and this, before the courts ruled against the banning. Whatever the claims justifying the ban, AP’s Chief Minister is a proselytizing Christian who went public with a statement that he’d challenge the court’s order. The non-state actors’ part is to a large extent, minimal. More on this later.
    So what does this say? That YSR, the Andhra CM is a “religious group?” Or my statement (in bold above )that follows doesn’t address your primary point? The same thing applies more or less to all those states which banned Da Vinci Code. And no less than India’s broadcasting minister attempted a ban on this movie– here’s the relevant lines from my post,
    >>…and the Minister of Broadcasting tried to prevent its release throughout India? What’s more, this Minister wanted the “religious groups” to “approve” its release. Is this sufficient to disprove your claim that it is not driven by the government? Whichever way you look, all evidence points to the contrary,…
    Do you still claim that I haven’t addressed your “basic point?”
    >>You seem to think I’m being one-sided in my choice of examples, while actually I believe I’m being pretty balanced.
    And I believe I have given enough and more-than sufficient evidence to back up why your choice of examples is one-sided.
    >>People should read my article, and then your post if they wish, and decide for themselves.
    Wholeheartedly agree. Which is the reason I opened this up for debate.

    Thanks.

  24. August 2, 2006 at 7:23 PM

    Just a quick comment. My basic argument in this article was a pretty simple one: in the old days censorship was generally initiated by the government to protect its own power, or curb representations of sex, while now it is driven by religious groups, and the government seems to have a secondary role.

    You never directly address that basic point, or why you might disagree with it. It’s a pretty basic statement, and not a partisan one.

    Most of your post is disagreement with my examples, not my central claim: Rakesh Sharma, Anand Patwardhan, Gadar, M.F. Husain, Aamir Khan/Fanaa, Da Vinci Code, the Danish cartoons. You seem to think I’m being one-sided in my choice of examples, while actually I believe I’m being pretty balanced.

    That’s about all I have to say on this really. People should read my article, and then your post if they wish, and decide for themselves.

  25. Niketan
    August 2, 2006 at 4:41 PM

    How did I forget to mention MF Hussain. When an obscure mulim cleric objected to a song stanza in his film Meenaxi, what did Hussain do? Did he remove the song? No – he withdrew the film itself from theatres causing losses to his distributors. Talk about crawling when only asked to bend. What did our secularists do? Blame Hindus again for causing fatigue for Miya Hussein. Poor man apparently was so tired fighting the fanatical Hindus he had no energy left to stand up for his film.

  26. Niketan
    August 2, 2006 at 4:30 PM

    Sandeep
    I was glad that Gadae the movie was brought into the picture. All professional secularists call it communal and capable of provoking riots including Shyam Benegal -Remember how he criticized it at an AMU seminar.

    In a secularist definition, anything that I consider communal deserves to be banned. but something that provokes Hindus to protest -leave alone rioting and killing – now that is restricting freedom of expression. If I remember right. Final Solution was not screened at a documentary and not banned outright.You are right the Gujarat riots cannot be compared to what the Nazis plotted.
    Regarding Anand Patwardhan’s documentary – it was not banned but there were people who were trying to screen it at an exhibition that was meant to be showing aspects of devotional Hinduism. Both Rajeev Srinivasan and Dilip Dsouza wrote about this. No prizes for guessing who wrote for and against it.
    Quoting Rajeev – it was a lie that people were trying to ban the documentary but were saying that it was not appropriate to be screened at a venue that was exhibiting devotional aspects of Hinduism.
    In fact I had an exchange with DD about this. His contention was that the documentary was based on the work of a renowned Dalit poet. I asked him whether Muslim scholars would allow The Satanic Verses to be discussed at an exhibition that showed the devotional aspects of their religion. As usual there was no reply from him

  27. Sandeep
    August 2, 2006 at 11:43 AM

    Alka,

    Thanks for the kind words. As for inducing people to vote, etc, I’m not sure how seriously my words will be taken. I’m a mere pamphleteer and my stated intent here is to fight political correctness and the bias and hypocrisy that surrounds public discourse in India and specifically, around Hinduism. But I’ll keep your words in mind, thanks again :)

    John,
    >>You’re kidding, right? A bigger piece of chest-pounding, jingoistic tripe is not to be had.
    Tripe it maybe, but I spoke about the slant. Please stick to the subject on hand.

    Ashish,
    >>Amir was not meddling in the issue. He simply stated his opionion, as you did here. Just because he is a celebrity doesn’t mean he cannot have and express an opionion (however half backed – since all of us have half backed opinion, NOBODY ever has 100.00% information).
    Agree partly. But he should’ve realized that being a popular actor with a huge fan following, he should’ve verified stuff before expressing his “half baked” opinion. Yours and my opinions, half or full baked, won’t be taken seriously because we’re not public figures, and/or don’t have a following like Aamir has. There are people who seriously will believe what Aamir spoke on the Narmada issue. Which is why I said he had no business meddling with Sardar Sarovar.

    >>Secondly, Gujarat govt didn’t ban Faanaa, it was decision by theater owners for whatever reason.
    You’re right but the media portrayed the issue as if Aamir took on Modi: case in point, Mr.Amardeep Singh who has echoed this false interpretation in his article.

  28. Prasanna
    August 2, 2006 at 10:38 AM

    Sandeep

    Excellent and exhaustive take

    People like Amardeep think that they can use any stick to beat BJP including resorting to outrageous lies
    Its good that you challenged them

    There was no state imposed ban on Fanaa in Gujarat
    (unlike Da Vinci Code where CM Samuel Reddy was in Andhra was in the forefront of the move).The exhibitors voluntarily refused screening the moview-i think this is a very legtimate form of protest unless Modi personally pressurised the exhibitors from screening the film .The protest was cutting across party lines

    However Da Vinci Code was banned in nearly all Congress ruled or congres supported state governments if i remember right.(Andhra Pradhesh/Tamil Nadu/Punjab/Goa/Meghalaya etc).Only after the court slapped them on their face was the ban removed.Even after that Congress goons ransacked theatres in Hydab to ensure the movie was withdrawn

    This is what constitutes lossening the string Amardeep?

    Stop this lie, Prof Amardeep

  29. August 2, 2006 at 5:25 AM

    First time here from DP. I agree with all of your article, and will bookmark for future. However I would like to argue against a simple assertion.

    “Here’s the thing: Aamir Khan absolutely had no business meddling in issues he has zero knowledge about. … But he did that in the hope of scoring brownie points for taking on the Mighty Modi (=unstinted media support) and/or promoting himself as a ”caring/socially-conscious celebrity.””

    Amir was not meddling in the issue. He simply stated his opionion, as you did here. Just because he is a celebrity doesn’t mean he cannot have and express an opionion (however half backed – since all of us have half backed opinion, NOBODY ever has 100.00% information). It is media who made a hullaboo of his statement. Secondly, Gujarat govt didn’t ban Faanaa, it was decision by theater owners for whatever reason.

  30. JohnJMack
    August 2, 2006 at 4:24 AM

    There’s nothing “heavily slanted” in Gadar except perhaps Sunny Deol’s constant roar.

    You’re kidding, right? A bigger piece of chest-pounding, jingoistic tripe is not to be had.

  31. August 2, 2006 at 3:37 AM

    Sandeep, you write so well and with such a passion. Why not you try to induce net janata to go out and vote. You will find many assisting, following and coming with you. Please give it a thought. I hear someone developing a software, so that people can vote from their workplace or home.

  32. Gaurav
    August 2, 2006 at 2:17 AM

    Sandeep,

    Why bother with facts when you have the narration.

    So goes the credo of secularism.

    One cant help but feel disappointed with Amardeep despite being articulae has made a habit of distorting facts to suit his agenda

    And I think the correct word is saffronite scum(which Gaurav Sabnis used)

    Regards

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