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How free can freedom of expression be?

india Updated: Dec 09, 2007 00:00 IST

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In Vir Sanghvi’s piece, The Taslima Controversy (December 2), why did he not equate the issue with the ban on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and the outcry against M.F. Husain’s works? Certain articles like this and another on the N-deal by Sanghvi consoling people that going back on the N-deal is not end of the world for India, are a bit disconcerting. And defending the central government’s decision to put the deal on hold when the Left did not allow it to go ahead, raises suspicions that he may not be unbiased.

Devesh Bhati,
USA

II

Can Taslima Nasreen be regarded as a model to be followed by a civilised and secular society? Those who feel so are living in a world of chaos and confusion. The so-called champions of civil liberties and right to expression will understand that they do not have the right to hurt others’ feelings. I endorse the banning of Madhuri Dixit’s film Aaja Nachle by the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab governments as it was likely to hurt feelings of a particular tribe, and have only praise for the producer who announced the withdrawal of the objectionable expressions from the film.

Ahmad Usmani,
Gorakhpur

III

Indian secularism has lost most of its substance and shine, thanks to some ridiculous writing on the subject in the past. Even a layman understands that it is a whip to beat whoever dares to voice the majority’s concerns. No one has any grudge with the minorities getting their share, but all this should be done according to the tenets enshrined in the Constitution.

Binay Mishra,
Delhi


IV

I have high regard for Taslima Nasreen for her brave exposition of hypocrisy and male chauvinism in her society. This is why it hurts me to learn that she has asked her publisher to delete three pages from her book at the instance of fanatics. This is a surrender to fundamentalists. In these pages she merely depicts the irrational practices that need introspection and warrants reform. There is nothing objectionable in abolishing something that does not fit in with the progressive social mores.

Sudip Ghosh,
Lucknow

Patriot Games

With reference to Indrajit Hazra’s article Kick me out, s’il vous plait! (December 2), without sounding like someone who has no sense of humour, nothing is sacrosanct today because everything will offend somebody or the other. Conversely, there will always be someone who’s not offended by something that many find offensive. Death on the other hand, is not made fun of and taken lightly anywhere. If today we talk about our good old shaheeds in a lighter vein, it won’t be long before the next generation sniggers at Kargil martyrs.

Forecasting that a shaheed would be doing goonda-gardi if he were born today seems like insulting someone based on something he’s not done because whatever he has done, invites admiration and nothing less. If I renounce my nationality, then I gain the right to question everything that’s held in high esteem by Indians. As long as I don’t do that, my loyalty and patriotism can be questioned by my fellow countrymen.

Achintya Rai,
Lucknow