None of your business
The Ministry of Home Affairs? call for the Mumbai and Delhi police to take appropriate action against M.F. Husain for allegedly ?objectionable? paintings is itself highly objectionable.india Updated: May 08, 2006 00:24 IST
The Ministry of Home Affairs’ call for the Mumbai and Delhi police to take appropriate action against M.F. Husain for allegedly ‘objectionable’ paintings is itself highly objectionable. For the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and others of their ilk to demand Husain’s head, it was one thing. But to have the Union Home Ministry join the illiberal chorus is a matter of great worry. Liberalism is a major ingredient of democracy. And the key element of the liberal credo is the primacy of the rights of individuals over those of the State — in other words, as long as a person does not break the established law of the land, the government has no right to restrict him or her in anyway.
Husain’s paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses are not new, and they have most certainly not been made with the view of inciting communities. They are artistic expressions and come under the protection provided for the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed in our Constitution’s Article 19 1(a). Those who feel incited are of the same kind as those who felt aggrieved when Deepa Mehta wanted to portray the very real travails of widows in Varanasi while making her film Water.
Obscenity, it has often been said, lies in the mind of the beholder. So, in this case, the Home Ministry needs to clearly understand not just the mindsets, but also the forces behind the continuous persecution of the artist on this issue.
First Published: May 08, 2006 00:24 IST