Artists’ freedom of expression under threat

Your concern for the freedom of artistic expression in the admirably argued editorial “Attack on liberalism” (May 16) is appreciable. However, I consider the ongoing debate on the issue as an affront of the innate human capacity to express artistically. Artistic outpourings grow somewhat naturally “like the leaves of a tree”.

History is witness to the fact that no amount of iconoclastic onslaughts on art, since time immemorial, has ever succeeded in curbing the ever-alive seed of artistic expression. In the current situation, which is not new one, it is the hidden intent of the hooligans, who are politically and administratively well protected, that needs to be read into.

Thus, strong protests should be lodged not in favour of freedom of expression but against the “sentimentally-hurt” (the hurt can be through art or a peck on one’s cheek or anything else which comes handy) goons who are allowed to burn properties and even human beings without any fear of the law. Instead of condemning only the decoy issue of moral policing, one should reproach at the deeper, clandestine and horrendous intents of our political bosses.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh



While the arrest of artist-student Chandramohan of Faculty of Fine Arts, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, may have been an extreme reaction and his release on bail would be welcomed even by his critics, the sequence of events leading to his becoming the most controversial artist in Gujarat merits attention.

Equally noteworthy is how civil rights commandos and sections of the media have described Chandramohan’s “plight” in jail — and labelled it an act of censorship — but have themselves censored references to the content of his art.

J.S. ACHARYA, Hyderabad


Unfortunately, the land in which two students were arrested is the world’s largest democracy. Yet, the freedom of expression is curtailed time and again here. The right-wing activists who always want to be the moral policemen have brought shame to this great cultural heritage with their acts of vandalism. What comes out of this episode is that if the police want to ban nudity in arts, then it should shut down even the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the temples of Khajuraho which depict sexuality and nudity.

Today we praise and differentiate India from other countries due to its democratic stature in the comity of nations, but if acts like these continue unabated, how can we differentiate ourselves from conservative and brutal regimes like the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda?



The paintings that were put up at the Fine Arts Department exhibition of the university were not only meant for private viewing but were merely on display to fulfil the final examination requirements for the Post-Graduate degree in Visual Arts.

The right-wing activists demanded that the university faculty should issue a statement regretting the wrong depiction in the paintings displayed. They found some of the paintings ‘derogatory’ to Vishnu, Durga and Jesus Christ. The police and administration sided with Gujarat’s BJP-VHP combine and arrested the student-artist, Chandramohan.

The activists not only vandalised the art student’s precious work but also mobbed the court when he was brought to it and also stalled the bail proceedings. The Vadodara incident should be condemned and should not be allowed to repeat elsewhere.



Electoral reforms imperative

H K. Dua’s front-page editorial “Co-opting the crooks” (May 11) lucidly ends on a thought-provoking note: “The State is being wrecked from within”. It is true and unfortunate that today some politicians (read crooks) who ought to be in jail for their crimes are sitting in the legislatures. There is steady erosion of values in our public life. This downturn is pushing us to an anarchic mobocracy wherein it is literally a free for all for everyone either in or outside the legislature.

Electoral reforms have become imperative. One, the Election Commission must be given powers to reject all tainted candidates. Two, as against the present practice of first-past-the post, the winning candidate should secure more than 50 per cent of votes in more than one round, if required. Three, the right to recall non-performing candidates, as in the US, should be introduced. And finally, the party high command’s role must be discouraged as it militates against the very spirit of democracy.

Brig GOVIND SINGH KHIMTA (retd), Shimla

Pragmatic approach

The Rs 4-kilo wheat and dal scheme promised by the Parkash Singh Badal government seems to be an honest and pragmatic approach. During the eligibility survey, people were convinced that only the deserving and those below poverty line should get the benefit.

An additional wheat-dal cess should be imposed on every bottle of wine sold in the state. The teaching community should be prohibited from drinking, at least in the schools.

Secondly, the Badal government should pursue the City Centre scam in Ludhiana, highlighted by the media during the fag end of Captain Amarinder Singh’s government, to its logical conclusion. And finally, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, the brain behind the Shiromani Akali Dal’s success in the Punjab elections, has emerged as a man of action.




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