Claiming to take a leaf out of the Islamic book, Hindu nationalists are no longer prepared to suffer insult, denigration or offence, past and present, in silence. And offence is found everywhere—in art galleries, schools and universities, books, films, music and online. Hindu nationalists have targeted all these, attacking art galleries and driving artists into exile, tearing down posters they consider obscene, demanding bans on books that don’t conform to their version of history, vandalising research institutes and threatening its academics, forcing film studios to change scripts or musicians to alter lyrics, destroying mosques and abusing Muslims. In the process, they have plunged India into chaos and alienated many sectors of this multicultural society. Most seriously, they threaten the secular India of its founding fathers.
the reason why the Satanic Verses controversy stays alive today is because it tapped into issues that were much larger than a single ban…on a single book…can be summed up in a simple question: does anyone have the right to offend, or to be offended? And if we do, can we live with the gaps that this might create in our lives—not just the missing books, paintings or films, but the missing ideas?
…the two books that will be of most immediate interest to Indian readers are Kamila Shamsie’s Offence: The Muslim Case and Salil Tripathi’s Offence: The Hindu Case. Shamsie examines the figure of the Offended Muslim and…suggests that we recast the matter as religious hardliners versus anti-hardliners, by separating those who advocate violence in the name of religion from those who find violence offensive.
…Salil Tripathi discusses the Indian state’s dismal record of protecting works of literature, art, cinema and scholarship
In an extensive footnote appended to his book, MT says he is merely “giving voice to the many silences” in the original.
What is missing from the existing narrative is the sense of what happened behind the scenes. Forget the traditional trope of this being a battle between good and evil — what it is, when stripped down to its essence, is the story of a family fighting for survival.
Bound tight by ties of blood and of shared suffering, such a family would come together against the perceived enemy, yes. But even so, as the pressures mount and stress escalates, there will be disagreements — even violent, bitter quarrels, recriminations.
“Bhisma, Krishna said, knew that right was on the side of the Pandavas. He had argued with Dhritarashtra, pleaded with him to avoid war, to give Pandavas their due share of the kingdom.
“But once war was declared, Bhisma had only one duty – to protect the kingdom he had sworn his allegiance to, and if in the process of doing that duty he had to kill the Pandavas, then that is what he would do. Every man has a duty, Krishna said, and yours just now is to fight those who have deprived you of what is your due, and offered your wife the kind of insult no man, much less a warrior, can forgive or forget.”