Banning of Books: The Right To Offend as our fundamental rights


First, we had Right To Information Act, then, Freedom of Information Act and, now, it’s high time for us to come up with The Right To Offend Act as part of our fundamental rights as human beings. This is what gentlemen of the likes of Dina nath Batra of Siksha Bachao Andolan seem to be telling us. The Bat’ ra man is reveling in glory after being in cahoot with Penguin India for the successful ban of the book, The Hindu: An Alternative History.

Image downloaded from www.google.in

Image downloaded from http://www.google.in

The self-anointed guardians of Hindu religion, obviously suffering from the myth of knowing too much in the wake of their limited education on scriptures, are telling us that they have the birth right to decide what we should and shouldn’t read. Why? Our inquisitive minds will be polluted for reading about the tales of  Hinduism, women and sexuality because it has violated the sanctity of Hindu religion. Wow! The learned gentleman, Batra, served as a teacher and I wonder at the kind of education dispensed to his subject, err sorry, students. I was watching the interview of Mr Batra on NDTV and burst out laughing  at his smart logic that reading the book will pollute young minds. This gentleman has a strange sense of Indian nationalism with reference made to Kashmir during the interview. He tells us, unabashedly, that his organization has the monopoly and exclusive right in delivering and imposing Gyaan (knowledge) on us.

However, the man seems to forget that Hinduism is a way of life and not just a religion. What’s worse is the crime committed by Penguin India who has become a silent conspirator by having an out of court arrangement with Siksha Bachao Andalon to burn copies of the book. Isn’t it the same Penguin India who went along to publish Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses despite waves of protest? The idea is not whether to agree or disagree with what books like The Hindus: An Alternate History or Satanic Verses contain. I may or not condone the book content but it is a crime for you to decide what should I read or not. As someone who love creative writing and reading, it’s my fundamental right to have the personal liberty to choose reading or writing materials. Who are you to impose your fundamentalist cum extremist views on me?

I feel that I can debate the contents of books at length or for that matter dispute about facts which were misinterpreted for some reason or another in books penned by the likes of Wendy Doniger, Taslima Nashreen or Salman Rushdie. I spoke to a scholar friend who is well versed in Sanskrit and who pointed out at some inaccuracies in Doniger book but we agree that it’s ridiculous to ban the book on account of someone taking offense to the content.

We can debate lengthily on the facts pertained to the writings of the book. But, banning a book is simply not an example of a tolerant society. Faiths such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity carry tolerant views but, unfortunately, the self appointed moral guardians decide what is best for us in a society that pride itself in being called secular and liberal. Karl Marx was wrong in calling religion the opium of the people but it’s rather the food of a privileged few who has the sole right of deciding on morality, telling us sex is wrong and should be banned.

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24 thoughts on “Banning of Books: The Right To Offend as our fundamental rights

  1. It’s a terrible thing, this entire incident is unfortunate and the space for liberal thought in India is shrinking rapidly. Someone give these so-called do-gooders something more worthwhile to occupy themselves!

  2. Wow, that’s an interesting tale. I do love to hear news stories about India (I follow a couple of other Indian bloggers too). Of course years ago, Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the classic banned book because it had f*** in it which would clearly corrupt people.

    I think banning books on grounds of religion is very worrying (eg Satanic Verses which I’ve read). Books that I would be more likely to ban are some of the very sick novels that are full of gratuitous violence, often against women, that is totally unnecessary for the so-called plot.

    • Hey! I don’t know how the F*** thing corrupt young minds and wonder where those ridiculous bigots come from. It’s just that they are bored of their existence and start doing the ban thing. Worse is Penguin who is now part of the game and no wonder election time is here..may be part of the political conspiracy of famous ‘Saffron’ extremists. Banning a book, play or movie is worrying since it’s a silly attempt to muzzle people’ voice and freedom. Our intellectual richness takes a beating. It’s silly!

  3. Everyone has a right to express their views and they shouldn’t be suppressed… but banning something goes on to show insecurities that people carry… hope our country is always open to freedom of expression…
    Good post!

    • India is home to many intellectuals who discuss and air views freely. However, some anti social elements and religious extremists doesn’t represent the voice of the country. It’s sad and many voices have been raised at this silly attempt. Thanks Danny for stopping by and those banning shows their fears.

    • Thanks, Kathy. Unfortunately, some idiots and mentally deranged will never understand how freedom of speech and writing is important. They equate everything with religion and moral high ground which does not help a society to grow. It’s sick.

  4. I am not much in favour of banning books either, because very rare people read books, but as i am a firm supporter of curbing down violence/obscenity in movies/serials I should better not say too much!

      • You think so? I think there is a big audience for books but the funny thing for this one is..I bet! The ban has created a big audience for the book that would have gone unnoticed. Some idiots really need to delve on what they do:)

      • no way, i can assure you more people watch television, movies, read newspapers than they read books.

        you know bengalis are notorious as book-worms, but even after being a book-worm, bengali i will say- majority of people (dont forget to include illiterate, semiliterate majority of population) dont read too many books.

      • hehe! We will disagree on this one since I know many in India love reading and there is a huge market for book. Bengalis are polished and cultured people in terms of writing and reading. Yeah, I do agree that there is a chunk who don’t read. As a creative person and someone who loves reading or writing, I am dead against any form of censor be it books or films since it goes against freedom to express. I mean, let the people decide what they want to do. Why ban and muzzle freedom?

  5. Seriously, i am amazed how some self proclaimed biggies believe that they can decide what people should and should not read. If you don’t like it, don’t pick up the book. What this ban has done is that it has increased curiosity and people are vying for the book. I am myself looking for its online version.

    • Hey Jas! That’s exactly my point and like many, have not read the book so cannot say what’s there. I mean! Cmon! You don’t like the book, don’t recommend or pick it. Perhaps, you can do a negative review or speak against it in a healthy debate. But, there are retards who decide everything for us and u must watch the interview of the guy on NDTV..it was hilarious. Drop me an email, I will mail you since I have a PDF version:)

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