The Indian government opened a can of worms when it banned Satanic Verses and ever since then various political and religious parties try to get books, movies and paintings banned at the drop of a hat. The latest instance is the University of Mumbai withdrawing Rohinton Mistry’s book “Such A Long Journey” due to an objection raised by Shiv Sena. To be frank I haven’t read the book so I don’t know what objectionable text it contains but coming from a reputed artist, I’m sure the book doesn’t have pornography.
Banning art is one of the most churlish ways of dealing with opinions and facts you don’t agree to. In fact you are doing a favor to the book or the movie you’re trying to ban: I just ordered a copy of “Such A Long Journey” and I am sure hundreds of thousands of people bought Satanic Verses just because that Iranian leader went crazy about it and issued a fatwa and the Indian government obliged by happily banning it.
But more than political or religious it is a law and order problem and our successive governments fail to stand up for people’s right to express their opinions unless of course these opinions are being expressed by separatists and terrorist apologists like A Roy and Geelani. Instead of tackling the real issue our politicians and administrators are perpetually trying to sweep the problems under the carpet by targeting individuals that are being targeted. Remember that statement from Shiela Dixit when Soumya Vishwanathan was shot dead? She said the girl shouldn’t have been out so late in the first place.
It is the duty of the government to make sure that no untoward incidents take place whenever people are protesting against an opinion or a piece of art. Let there be riots and let people break each other’s heads but why should writers and other creative people suffer due to such lunatics?
Again, I’m not talking about the issue of including the book in a university syllabus or not because we all know how books are selected in our universities and schools, I’m talking about the way we so easily let our governments and rogue political parties decide for us what is good and what is bad. More about Translation Companies UK
So when should a book be banned? Never. Let people decide what they want to read and what they don’t want to read. Even if the book contains highly objectionable and obnoxious material, let people decide. If people of our country are responsible enough to elect governments (no matter how lousy these governments are) they are also responsible enough to know what to accept and what to reject without fearing the wrath of political muscleman and criminals.