One question Barkha Dutt should ask Rushdie

After five days of dominating the Jaipur literary festival without even stepping foot in it, Sir Salman Rushdie will bring the curtain down on the final day; he will address the gabfest by a video link with NDTV anchor Barkha Dutt as his interrogator/interlocutor. (Oh, he won’t!)

These five days have been a signal lesson in India’s slow but sure march towards illiberalism.

Over five days, we have learnt that there is no ban on reading, possessing or downloading copies of The Satanic Verses;  just that the finance ministry has disallowed its import. But that has been sufficient for Islamist fundamentalists to bar Rushdie from stepping on the soil of the country of his birth.

Over five days, we have seen the Rajasthan government invent an “assassination plot” to keep Rushdie out, succeed in their efforts, and then deny their concoction. Over five days, we have seen the festival’s organisers behave like Team Anna, saying one thing one moment, exactly the opposite the next moment and both sometimes (while having grand debates on censorship).

Over five days, we have seen a lawyer (Akhil Sibal)—son-in-law of one of the organisers (Namita Gokhale) and son of the Union IT minister (Kapil Sibal)—who “defended” M.F. Husain when he was being targeted Hindu fundamentalists, being deployed to urge authors (like Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil) to sign papers that they read passages from the book so on their own volition, and so on.

What is the one question Sir Salman Rushdie must be asked this afternoon?

Like, should Rushdie be asked to repeat what he told Rajiv Gandhi in an open letter in the The New York Times in 1988, when The Satanic Verses was banned:

“By behaving in this fashion, can [India] any more lay claim to the title of a civilised society? Is it no longer permissible, in modern, supposedly secular India, for literature to treat such themes? What sort of India do you wish to govern? Is it to be an open or a repressive society?”

Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Is India a liberal republic?

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12 Responses to “One question Barkha Dutt should ask Rushdie”

  1. asha Says:

    this is another example of the belligerence of the followers of the religion of peace (sic)…the same yardstick unfortunately does not apply to the overly militant hindu religion….

  2. harkol Says:

    I don’t particularly like BJP. But, Congress gives me enough reasons to be repulsed enough to vote for a regressive party like BJP. Congress is equally regressive right now, but more importantly, they are also retarded!

    Object to what a clown like Jay Leno said on TV and ask US govt. to control their Media?? Come on! You have to be a first rate moron to do that! Congress party/govt. proved they are!!!

  3. Dr KRS Murthy Says:

    Dear Churmuri:

    If India, with too many of its religions to be appeased as a barter for votes, can not equitably handle Salman Rushdie and MF Hussain and many other less popular now and do a proper balancing act, do you think a straight arrow like me who dismisses the stupidity of the invention of the concept of “God” by the human, “probably a great creator himself / herself, could be persecuted by one and all, not only in India, also in all parts of the world?

    KRS Murthy

  4. Anonymous guy Says:

    asha, have conveniently forgotten MF Hussain, ban of BR Ambedkar’s Riddles in Hinduism etc.?

    Same yardstick – religious fanatics.

  5. abha (@AbhamohantyM) Says:


  6. A Journalist Says:

    Somebody should approach the SC seeking a ban on barkha dutt addressing her guests by their first name. It is bloody irritating.

    Did she attend primary school with Sir Salman Rushdie to call him Salman?

  7. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    We don’t want Taslima Nasreen living among us; we destroyed Hussain’s mind; we say Rushdie’s life is in danger and he should stay away from Jaipur. Surely, this “We” is not India.

    Why is one kind of blind fundamentalism more tolerable than its sibling varieties?

  8. Gaampa Says:

    None of the harbingers of liberal space have read Satanic verses in the first place. I read with interest Justice Katju’s observation that Mr.Rushdie is not a world class writer etc…
    JLF must have had a crooked idea to invite him in the first place. They surely would have counted that this invitation alone would hijack the entire agenda and make Indians bicker like panda / kaurava siblings….
    I feel sorry for other eminent writers whose presence and voice was lost in the din..l

  9. Bhamy V Shenoy Says:

    We do not need any more proof to show that India is a banana republic ruled by an empress thanks to our dysfunctional democracy. For this we need to blame the literate class who failed to get liberal education. What should worry even more is that things instead of improving are going down hill.

  10. adu haagene Says:

    Why are the so called “buddhijeevis” (both local and national) silent!

  11. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    Excellent question, adu h. And so many of them are literature makers like Rushdie himself. On the one hand scream that a certain religious minority is endangered and then consdescendingly ignore everything it says or does.

  12. India’s Worst Journalists – 2012 by Media Crooks Ravinar !!! | media laundry- @Dhobitalao Says:

    […] One question Barkha Dutt should ask Rushdie ( […]

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