• LAWGIC STRATUM

Books that created controversy while publishing in India

Author: Aisha S. Kamal



Who wouldn’t want to sit with a book in hand and a tea in another? It pulls you into an entirely different dimension that gives you a sense of break from one’s daily routine by just a few printed papers bound in the form of a book.


There have been numerous authors who have written and published many books with regards to various fields either to satisfy the readers or use it as one of the ways for a creator to showcase his creativity.


Freedom of speech, being one of the fundamental rights laid down in the Indian Constitution, certainly does have few reasonable restrictions enshrined in it in order to avoid any misuse or harm that can be caused to the people and the state itself and having such a fundamental right being the freedom of speech and expression certainly aids the writers, to bring out their creativity in a book.


Unfortunately, there have been instances where few books have caused controversies in India because the content of such books wasnot accepted by the people, either because it did not stand right with their ideologies or because it had hurt the sentiments of the readers for what they had believed.


A few of the books that caused controversy in the country is as follows:


1. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rusdhie:


Salman Rushdie was a British Indian novelist who was the author of ‘The Satanic Verses’ that got published in 1988. This book received backlash frommany Muslims saying that this book had disregarded and derogated the Islamic faith and their belief. The Muslims accused Salman of blasphemy because of what he had written since the book was inspired by the life of the Prophet Mohammed.


In response to the outrage and the banning of his book in India, Rushdie responded by saying that his book was not about Islam but it was about love, death, migration, and the journey from Bombay (Mumbai) to London. But due to the blasphemy controversy, the book was overshadowed. Even the Iran government had issued a Fatwa for Rushdie’s killing which made him go into hiding until the government had revoked the Fatwa after a decade[1].


2. The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger:[2]


Wendy Doniger is a professor of the history of religion in Chicago. Her book was published in 2009 which features boisterous representations of Krishna. This book received outrage due to an activistDinanath Batra. This book was burned across the whole country of India due to the alleged religious defamation.The publisher Penguin Books India had announced the withdrawal of the sale of ‘The Hindus: An Alternative History’ after receiving multiple lawsuits against them. Although in 2015, the head of Penguins Books India had launched a new company ‘Speaking Tiger’, and had bought the rights of publishing this controversial book by replacing Krishna with Shiva. There were some controversial quotes as well in the book that made the book a tabooed one almost.


3. Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence by Jaswant Singh:


This book had shownhow Indian history is crucial in the present governance. Jaswant Singhwas an Indian politician who had joined the Bhartiya Janata Party, but appeared to be an outsider sometimes.[3]


Muhammed Ali Jinnah is known to be one of the main reasons that led to the formation of Pakistan which was known to be a sorrowful event for the members of BJP and RSS. This book was portraying Jinnah, not as a demonised nation breaker but had shown sympathy towards him which was not accepted by the people of the political parties. It was also banned because of ‘derogatory’ references to Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Although the Gujarat High Court had overturned the ban, Jaswant Singh was expelled from BJP stating that there shall be no compromises made with regards to the party’s ideologies.[4]


4. The Price of Power by Seymour Hersh:


This book had accused the former Prime Minister Morarji Desai of being a CIA informant and that he had provided secrets to the CIA as well. Morarji Desai filed a suit against this book and had got the book banned in India temporarily in the year 1983.


5. Lajja by Taslima Nasrin:


This book was written after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in the year 1993 that was banned in India because it was offensive to the Muslims and had insulted the Islamic Faith. The book was banned in Bangladesh and then in India.


Taslima, in an interview, stated that she had not criticized Islam in her book and that a fatwa was also issued against her. But she also said that the fatwa was issued not because of Lajja but because of her previous writings that were controversial and criticized as well.[5]


Lajja is known to have been translated into various languages and was also published in other countries, but had remained criticized and banned in Bangladesh and India.


Conclusion:


Many writers tend to write and publish many books with the intention of spreading awareness about various thought-provoking topics. But due to the sensitivity of certain religious/ political topics and the differed views, many such books tend to become a controversy that ends up being banned in countries.


Rights and privileges come with responsibility. Though everyone has the right tofreedom of expression, the same needs to be exercised with caution and self-restraint. They will have to be tolerant and acceptable to other’s views, faith, belief, and way of life.


References:

[1]https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Satanic-Verses [2]https://www.dailyo.in/arts/wendy-doniger-the-hindus-the-alternative-history-penguin-india-banned-speaking-tiger-hinduism-dinanath-batra/story/1/7754.html [3]https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/judged-by-the-cover-remembering-the-controversy-around-jaswant-singhs-book-on-jinnah/ [4]https://www.indiatoday.in/fyi/story/find-out-8-books-you-cannot-read-in-india-274868-2015-11-29 [5]https://scroll.in/article/679203/lajja-reminds-bangladesh-that-it-failed-to-protect-hindus-taslima-nasrin

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