Saturday, January 21, 2012

Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival

Couresy: Times of
I am indebted to Salman Rushdie not as much to write nine novels, three collections of short fiction, two children’s books, and more than half a dozen non-fiction essays, as to play a catalyst in exposing the hypocrisy hidden in the Indian religious mind. The Jaipur Literature Festival is in news not just because of the prospective assemblage of personalities from the field of literary art, but also from the conspicuous absence of Rushdie. He bagged booker prize, and to be frank that doesn’t prove a thing about his talents, literary or artistic. But at this instance when some wounds, sore and unbearably unfavorable are laid bare, he deserves some credit.

The Literature Festival would otherwise have hosted his speech. In the concurrent move of things, some orthodox and parochial religious sects intervened what they have not otherwise been capable of nearing; books. The festival of words was threatened with various means of barbarity if Rushdie took his place as a speaker. A similar insult or predicament was unloaded upon one of the prominent artists, M. F. Hussain (1915-2011). Both Rushdie and Hussain had exile in their personal profiles engraved by their respective political and religious societies.

Even though, Rushdie withdrew from attending the festival considering security reasons, his presence will be assured through video link. Sometimes, technology indeed helps to transcend limitations, rather than creating couch potatoes. We realize it all the time, but hardly keep this learning maintained in our thoughts. And perhaps this was what happened with those religious fundamentalists. In Rushdie’s case it is impossible to say how much his desire to come back to his motherland is strong, but it was said that Hussain wanted to come back home during the final stages of his life.  

Courtesy: Google Images
There was only one thought, one intention when I started off writing this article: five hundred words, my daily schedule of writing practice. But in approaching this topic, I realized that in order to limit my words within the five hundred mark, I must strive hard. This feeling was much due to my internal conviction that what is happening in the Indian society in matters of freedom of self expression and expression of individual choices is less short of barbarism. This barbarism has it echoes recently reverberated in The United States of America, in its attempts to curtail the freedom of expression in the internet through the S.O.P.A (Stop Online Piracy Act) and P.I.P.A (Protect Intellectual Property Act). The mentality that runs through the contemporary bills on prevention of online free speech, from the US to the south Indian state Kerala, which had already claimed the life of the freedom of speech in the middle east and China, is the same, hideous and sulking.  

Rushdie has already created his space in the festival, even without making his presence felt, physically. The controversy has attributed much significance to what Rushdie has to say. The art of political and religious hypocrisy negotiates here with the physical reality outside of books, just like a magical scene Rushdie himself concocts in his books, his magic reality. 


Terri said...

Hi Anu,
This is another well written article!

Anu Lal said...

Thank you Tia Terri! big hugs from Me Ho!

A said...

I am ashamed to admit that I've never heard of him... have some googling to do.

Anu Lal said...