Millennium Post

It’s liberal fascism!

Navayana’s decision to cancel the publication of English translation of Tamil writer Joe D’Cruz’s novel Aazhi Soozh Ulagu, for his open ‘fondness’ of Narendra Modi shows the narrow-minded approach of our publishing houses. Ironically, it also exposes the hypocrisy of those who call themselves the so-called advocates of free speech. To add to that, Navayana has earlier published Namdeo Dhasal, the acclaimed Marathi Dalit poet, who had been a supporter of the Shiv Sena, a long-time ally of Modi and popular for its ultra-conservative views. Amid all the debates and discussions on free speech and expression, the real question that needs to be asked is– can art be free from politics? There have been various instances in the past where artists had to bear the brunt of political groups (who, nevertheless claim to be apolitical), only because their work was not pleasing to those certain people. Earlier in February, US author Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History was pulled away from stands following a two-year long legal battle between the publisher and a fringe right-wing group which alleged that the contents in the book was ‘defaming’ the Hindu religion. Joe’s case is completely different from Doniger’s, however, both of them have become the victims of a similar kind of a creative intolerance. An author’s independent political views should not concern the publisher when the subject matter has got nothing to do with the politics. In a democratic state, people ought to have different political opinions which should be respected, if not approved of. People in authority should not impose or rather dictate their ideologies on others who differ with them. Democracy represents debate and you can always silence your opponents by raising your pitch and improving your argument, but forcing them to shut up just because you are in an advantageous position is democratically incorrect.

Navayna may be exercising its freedom of choice by not going ahead with Joe’s book, however, should one’s differing political ideologies be the reason enough for not publishing a particular book? Is it not a fascist attitude to impose your views on others irrespective of their merits? So what if D’Cruz called Modi a visionary or endorsed his work in Gujarat? That clearly does not make him less of a writer. The growing attacks on free speech in India and the politics played within will unfortunately turn our writers ‘literary untouchables.’
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