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Banning books: Don’t shoot the messenger

Modern India does not really feel at home with literary freedom, which explains why it has allowed itself to be tainted with a dreadful legacy of banning books. Among the books banned are Aubrey Menon’s ‘Rama Retold’; Agehanand Bharati’s ‘The Ochre Robes’; Stanley Wolpart’s ‘Nine hours to Rama’ and of course Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’.

It is no surprise that India managed to prevent Salman Rushdie from visiting the Jaipur Literature Festival by providing him with false intelligence report as alleged by Rushdie in the news item (‘Police lied to keep me away: Rushdie’ (January 23). 

Perhaps, India should learn from the example set by Mahatma Gandhi. When the American author, Katherine Mayo, published her highly controversial book ‘Mother India’ in 1927, Mahatma Gandhi told her that her book ‘reads like a drain inspector’s report’. But he would not vouch for banning the book. In fact, he asked Indians to read it and make up their mind. Instead of banning books, Indian politicians should do what Gandhi did: learn to shoot the message, not the messenger.



The writer’s observation in the editorial ‘Rushdie’s aborted visit’(January 21) that a society which is afraid to read, see or listen to unpalatable works and words betrays a lack of confidence in itself’, should make us more tolerant towards others views. Dr Radha Krishnan repeatedly said that ‘We do not accept scriptural documents as apart from other books, unquestionable in their accuracy and advice’. This applies to The Vedas, The Bible, The Quran and also to The Satanic Verses by Rushdie. The real reason behind the government succumbing to pressure is on account of Muslim votes.

Punishing the trouble- mongers will teach everyone a lesson. ‘Fatwas’ and ‘hukamnamas’ have no place in a secular country and if we cannot stop these, we might as well shed the mask of secularism.

Dr LR SHARMA, Jalandhar


Blocking Salman Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur at the instance of alleged threat perception to the writer’s life was a clever device used by the Congress to appease Muslim voters. In the coming UP elections, Muslim votes will play a crucial role in deciding the fate of Congress in UP where Rahul’s future is at stake. Obviously, the Congress preferred the Muslim vote bank rather than the visit of the famous author. The Vice-Chancellor of Deoband seminary took advantage of elections to make the Congress bend backward by raising the issue of Rushdie’s controversial book. The VC conveniently forgot to voice his concern about the Satanic Verses when the writer visited Jaipur earlier in 2007 because it was not poll time.

RM RAMAUL, Paonta Sahib


The banishment of Taslima Nasreen from Kolkata, MF Hussain’s exile till death and now barring Salman Rushdie from visiting Jaipur have blatantly exposed that the professed principles of democracy and secularism are practically nothing but rhetoric and a farce. Unless India stops pampering the communal elements and learns to protect the pioneers of independent thought or art, the country will fast join the ranks of the fanatic nations of the world.


Asset growth

Sitting Congress MLAs of Punjab gaining asset growth rate of 1000% to 2000% is incomprehensible as revealed in the news report ‘Punjab politician focus on asset building’ (January 21). How did they manage to multiply their fortunes so steeply is simply mind-boggling despite sitting in the Treasury benches? Perhaps, apprehending power in the coming Assembly polls, the Congress MLAs might have inflated asset value in advance to be on the safer side, so that once they come to power they can really make money, without fear of being questioned later. Anything can be expected from politicians.



The entrepreneurship and commercial acumen of the MLAs who have increased their wealth substantially since 2007 is astoundingly shameful as mentioned in the news report (online edition January 22). As they are vying with their political opponents to get re-elected, wouldn’t it be appropriate for them to declare how they managed to generate so much wealth so quickly? The media and the Election commission in Punjab should verify and challenge their explanations. Answers to these questions are crucial as they were serving the people of Punjab on a full time basis for the last 5 years.


Kumari Selja clarifies

This is with reference to the news report ‘HC notice to Meham MLA’ (December 5). It has mentioned the name of Kumari Selja, Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Culture, as an allottee of a plot given by HUDA in August 2009.

A Punjab and Haryana High Court order dated October 14, 2010, issued by Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Aditya Tewari, has deleted the name of Kumari Selja from the list of respondents after she gave up her right to the plot in question.

AJAY CHAUDHRY, OSD to Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation And Minister of Culture, New Delhi

Failures make success sweet

There  are  some  personality  traits which  if followed  consistently  bring  success. The middle ‘Perseverance brings success’ (January 21) brought out one of those. We condition ourselves so much that we want big things to happen in one go and just can’t wait for a second attempt. Our confidence gets shattered by even a minor setback. Instead of rising again with more zeal, we tend to quit. Thomas  Edison,  one  of  the   great  scientists  the  world  has  ever  produced,  was  an  epitome  of  this  trait. His  whole  laboratory  was  destroyed  in  fire  which made  him  more  determined.

He  went  on  to  invent  many  miracles  of  science  after  that. Failures make the taste of success sweeter. This is what life is all about.

AMAR  KUMAR, Fatehabad



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