Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Four Kerala students booked for putting Modi’s photo along with Hitler, Osama in magazine // Indian Publishers Are Dumping Books Instead of Defending Them

The principal of a government polytechnic in Kerala and four students were among seven people booked by police on Tuesday over putting a photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in their campus magazine under a list of “negative faces” that also included Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Cases had been registered against four students, associated with the magazine, its Principal M N Krishnan Kutty, staff Editor Gopi and the owner of a printing press for offences under Indian Penal Code (IPC) including concealing design to commit offence, wantonly giving provocation, punishment for defamation and printing matter known to be defamatory. The polytechnic is located in Kuzhoor.
The campus magazine for 2013-14 was released on June 4 and one of its pages titled ‘negative faces’ featured a photograph of Modi. Others figuring in the collage include, sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran, Adolf Hitler, Al-Qaeda chief Laden and George W Bush, police said. They said the case was booked on a complaint by a social worker Subash. The magazine was brought out by a team of campus editors of the institution, whose student union is stated to be controlled by a pro-Left campus outfit. The polytechnic authorities hinted that the magazine would be withdrawn as it has sparked a controversy. Local BJP workers staged a protest and burnt copies of the controversial magazine.
Meenakshi Lekhi links Sonia Gandhi with Mussolini. Will the RSS/BJP finally clarify their stance on fascism and Nazism?  Since Ms Lekhi is announcing her awareness of the evil of Nazism and facism, may we expect the BJP leadership to finally make a public repudiation of Gowalkar's and V.D. Savarkar's sympathy for the Nazis and their racial hatred of Jews? There is ample evidence that the BJP's iconic figures, Golwalkar of the RSS and V.D. Savarkar, president of the Hindu Mahasabha, approved of Hitler’s murderous hatred of Jews. In 1938, Golwalkar wrote: “To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic races - the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here...a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.” In 1939, the Mahasabha resolved that “Germany’s crusade against the enemies of Aryan culture will bring all the Aryan nations of the world to their senses and awaken the Indian Hindus for the restoration of their lost glory.” There is much documented evidence that the forerunners of RSS/Hindu Mahasabha were attracted to Hitler's politics as well as Italian fascism. Muslim communalists were similarly affected by Hitler’s anti-Semitism. Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi, founder of the fascist para-military called the Khaksars, visited Germany in 1926 to meet Hitler, and translated Mein Kampf into Urdu – probably the first Indian version of that book. Readers can find more on these and similar utterances in 'Hindutva's foreign tie-up in the 1930's'; and in The law of killing

Bucking the global decline in revenues, the business of books in India is actually expanding — and at an exponential rate — buoyed by a massive English-speaking market and a growing, educated middle-class hungry for, and able to afford, written work of every genre and format. But instead of becoming more open, publishing in India these days — or at least scholarly publishing — operates in an anxious climate. Beset by vexatious legal notices, mostly from hard-line Hindu organizations offended by the portrayal of Hinduism in academic works, more and more publishers are practicing a form of self-censorship by dumping titles from their catalogs rather than going to the expense of defending them in court. The situation is grave enough that authors and academics voice fears for the future of political debate in the country. Since January, more than half a dozen highly acclaimed books have been withdrawn or placed on hold. Many more withdrawals may be in the pipeline, insiders say.

“What is the point of printing heaps of books when freedom of speech is not respected?” asks British author William Dalrymple, whose 2009 work Nine Lives: in Search of the Sacred in Modern India was a masterful survey of Indians and religious thought. The latest casualty is a book titled Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad Since 1969 by Megha Kumar, a young scholar at Oxford. Worryingly, no suit has been filed against the book itself, which is a rigorous look at the role of rape during sectarian troubles in the largest city of Gujarat, newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. Instead, its publisher, the academic press Orient Blackswan, withdrew it from the market because a legal notice it received, concerning a textbook published a decade ago, caused it to review the rest of its catalog, including Kumar’s book.

That notice, from Dinanath Batra, convener of the Hindu group Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, claimed that the textbook From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India, by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, had portrayed another Hindu-nationalist organization in a bad light. Fearing that Communalism and Sexual Violence would attract similar legal action if it remained on sale, and concerned that its staff might suffer violent reprisals, Orient Blackswan told Kumar that her book would be set aside.

“What is troubling is that the publisher was not served a notice against Dr. Kumar’s book. The publisher is withdrawing books as a precautionary measure,” Dalrymple says.
Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti is the same group that came to an out-of-court settlement with Penguin India in February to withdraw from sale University of Chicago professor Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History. Publisher Penguin pulped all copies of the book in India, sparking global outrage from free-speech activists. (In April, Aleph Book Co. agreed that it would not reprint another of Doniger’s books, On Hinduism, until Batra’s objections to it were entertained by an independent panel of scholars. The book is currently unavailable.)

Batra has been filing cases under Section 153A and Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with hate speech. But the publishers have nothing to worry about, says Lawrence Liang of the Alternative Law Forum, who has studied issues around free speech for the past 15 years. “There is nothing that can go against a publisher who decides to take on a legal battle on free speech. Fought correctly, they are bound to win,” says Liang. However, “they are just not willing to fight a legal battle fearing the rising economic costs involved in it. They find it cheaper to withdraw books.”

Many blame Penguin India for having set a precedent by conceding to the demands of Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti a few months ago. “It was an extremely shortsighted decision by Penguin — they saved a few dollars for the company at the cost of a free society for all,” says Dalrymple. After Penguin withdrew Doniger’s book, two other Penguin authors, Siddharth Varadarajan and Jyotirmaya Sharma, announced their decision to withdraw their books in protest. Varadarajan will instead self-publish his book on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“Such a scenario raises questions of academic living and working in India,” says Kumar. “What does this mean for the future of fearless debates and critical thinking in the country?”