A festival which should have been known for its right to speech, has now punched its mark on the pages of history for a new right: the right to abandon speech. The Jaipur Literary Festival has somehow diverted the burning minds of our nation from the mind-boggling performance of the Indian Cricket team to some “god-damn” verses by Mr. Salman—no, not Khursheed—it is Rushdie this time. Salman Rushdie is the author of Satanic Verses, which was satanic enough to get banned; the book, as well as the gutsy author. (“Gutsy”. Not because he published a book offensive to Muslims, but more because he has had four—or maybe more—wives. You know, the gutsy fellow did not come to India, not out of cowardice, but because he has some more marriages left to be accomplished in life. Being killed by fanatics is a strict no-no.)
Though Salman Rushdie was quite excited to visit the city which supposedly—ironically—identifies itself with “padharo mhare desh”, he was disappointed by the complete cold-shoulder from the authorities. Thereafter, he symbolically nominated the Rajasthan cops for a Booker prize on fiction, when he tweeted that he had been cheated with a false story. He added, “I have always praised India for its secularism, liberty and love, but now it feels as if the political leaders and religious extremists are sleeping in the same bed.” Mr. Rushdie, can you now praise India for its right to ban everything, right to restrict anybody, right to ‘m’uck up anything? We are sure you will.
A festival which he thought could have been famous by the visit of Rushdie, became quite more famous by his absence.
Some of his author friends quoted (more like roared) ominous verses from his book, at the Fest. It resulted in another ban. What else were they expecting? Claps? Or an ovation? Just by reading the verses from a book which was banned by the ‘Papa’ of our ‘Baba’ Gandhi in the late ’80s? Sorry sir, move on. Or get banned. We are just democratic by the classification of our government, not by choice, nor by speech. You people have no right to read anything from anything, anywhere, in this democratic country.
Moreover, Rushdie was also banned from the video conferencing, and the Commander-in-Chief of the fest cried a river for this. What else could he do? A festival which he thought could have been famous by the visit of Rushdie, became quite more famous by his absence. So the shedding of tears was simply not understood by our team. Leave our team, it was not even understood by his team. Maybe he was emotional about the progress that Congress is making, or the respect Rushdie was getting from the extremists. Matters simplified when we asked his wife, who replied, “My husband has paid a lot of money for this fest, and the festival is just not making any profits due to the bans… and bans… and more bans… imposed by the ban-nerds of this country”.
When NTMN reporters asked Rajasthan cops about this whole over-hyped matter, their chief goon replied, “We informed Rushdie that his visit may not be as joyful as he is expecting it to be, so we ‘requested’ (read ‘ordered’) him not to visit India. He replied rudely, which was quite expected. Though we didn’t get what he said due to his precise pronunciation and heavy vocabulary, we guessed that he was abusing us, and by murmuring of the words ‘security’ and ‘extra’ quite often, we thought he was probably demanding extra security for his visit to Jaipur. Now, how the hell are we gonna provide security to him? We have more important persons like Kasab to protect. He is not any terrorist. So the government has simply rejected the proposal of increasing his security detail.” Thereafter, our reporters went to ask our respected(?) Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh about the issue. We reached Janpath at about 10 am, and our Honourable PM was having a photo-shoot with his head—the real head who governs his head. He had cover-ups to cover cover-ups; on finally reaching him somehow (about an hour later), he simply nodded to our question and said “no comments”, as always. (Why did we expect any better?)
Everything said and done, this is a country led by the Un-progressive Alliance (UPA), and opposed by the Non-Democratic Alliance (NDA). Ha! Leaders who are atheist enough to commercialise God, worse enough to sanction the worst, and also illiterate enough to ban literature. Leaders who are leading us from anywhere to, quite literally, nowhere!
This post has been published on NTMN first. Same writer. Me.
Protected by Copyscape Plagiarism Checker – Do not copy content from this page.