Thursday, December 08, 2005

Censorship and other crimes!

A friend of mine who is a regular reader of the news magazine India Today tells a story of how a recent issue was confisticated by the authorities and only returned after a page was torn out. Apparently the page torn out was a book review about Bangladesh's Talibanisation. Those interested about the book might want to look at the following link (cut and paste on to your browser)

I have not read the book and neither am I familiar with the author’s other works. But I’ll do what every protestor of the Satanic Verses did – I’ll condemn it! False! False! False!! I say. Mr. Karlekar who started his career in journalism in the 1960s in West Bengal no doubt lived through the horrors of 1971 and must have played a role (active or passive) in our War of Independence. And like most Indians that I have met, he must be puzzled why Bangladesh which was created with the help of General Arora’s troops is now is forgetful or even “ungrateful” of the friendship that the nations are supposed to have shared! And again it is easy for everyone to point at one particular source and says that is the fault! But that is a scary logic to follow. The break down of the relationship is long and complicated. Maybe I’ll touch on that soon. However a fundamental cause of this feeling is the success of Awami League propaganda on the rise of Islamic political might in Bangladesh. This gets a lot of play in the conversations of Kolkata’s intelligentsia! The Babus should remember that Islamic parties have lesser say in our policy than Shiv Sena has in Maharastra or BJP / RSS has is Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh! All this rubble raising will only put Bangladesh in the defensive. It will lead the government to deny that the problem actually exists. And then lead their leaders (Alliance powers that be) to actually believe their own tales. What was the name of that Arnie movie? True Lies! Correct.

Mr. Karlekar, I will read your book (if I can get my hands on one in Dhaka) and I will give you secular Bangladesh’s reply! But for now tone down the rhetoric otherwise all you will succeed in doing allow the same terrorists that you are fearful of to get bolder!


Supriyo said...

Farhan, I agree with you. I have read the book. Mr. Karlekar suffers from a know-it-all syndrome, and forgets to look around himself.

It is indeed strange that most vocal people in India about Bangladesh's 'Talibanisation' are the BJP and its sympathesizers. They are almost leading a similar process.

I guess the key for all of us to recognise is that the democratic process has failed to deliver the goods for most people so far. We celebrate the power of democracy in India as Indian voters managed to throw out incompetent or oppressive governments many times. Mr. Karlekar overlooks the fact that the same holds true for Bangladesh. He probably is stuck in 1971 and the lack of gratefulness [something I heard from many quarters in India], but misses out the significance of 1990s, when the people of Bangladesh could force a dictator to step down.

So, a mindless theocratic dictatorship in Bangladesh seems as distant as a mindless theocratic dictatorship in India. I know some of my Indian friends will jump into an argument that more and more people in Bangladesh are turning to religion, and they may end up choosing a theocratic leader. Distant possibility, but one must say - if that happens, democracies are expected to respect such choices, and not moan about it like Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld. For a long time, the big daddies of democracy have thought they can engineer democratic solutions. Far from it - that is the problem!

Nazim Farhan Choudhury said...

Ah atlast a person who has read more than the book review! And I think authinticates my belief about its contents and its author. (And mind you Supriyo is an Indian)

Well now I am really keen on reading this so I can rebutt point to point! (Anil Wilson will be proud!)