Senthil Mallar, a writer who advances the claim that the Scheduled Caste Pallars were the original rulers of Tamil Nadu, has gone underground after the state government banned his book—Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaar (Resurgence of Pandian History)—and charged him with sedition. Senthil is a Pallar, but prefers not to be described as a Dalit—only as a scholar. He says his book is based on research and that his critics haven’t countered his evidence; their blunt opposition is driven by the need to maintain existing hierarchies. But the book has been dubbed casteist and his Dalit assertion is seen as a simplistic attempt to distort history. The sedition charge is more serious: he can be jailed for anything between three years and life.
Senthil is not the only one who has faced such a curb. Amina Wadood, an American scholar of Islam, was prevented from speaking at the University of Madras. The university authorities received an SMS demanding that the lecture be called off. Faced with the threat of protests by conservative Muslim groups, the university backed off. Wadood was not allowed to speak.
More recently, Thalaivaa, a film starring popular actor Vijay, finds itself facing an uncertain future. A group calling itself the Tamil Nadu Oppressed Students Revolutionary Force has alleged that students were exploited during the film-making and that the producers have evaded tax. And last year, Dam 999 was banned as it was thought it had the potential to create problems between two states. Kamalahaasan’s Vishwaroopam, which did not go down well with some Muslim groups, faced protests. In about a year and a half, Tamil Nadu has earned the dubious distinction of probably being the state with the most bans.
Says Khushboo, actress-activist and one of the visible faces of the DMK, the main opposition party, “These protests are by groups who just seize an opportunity when they see one and scramble to be in the limelight. They disappear after their objective is fulfilled.” As for the unofficial “temporary ban” on Thalaivaa, she says, “There’s lack of clarity on the status of the film. The director and the producer have been unable to explain their position. As I understand it, the film was cleared by the review committee of the censor board with a few cuts and a U certificate was granted.” In fact, because of the film-makers not speaking up, rumours abound. The lack of openness has also led to the view that the political leanings of the lead actor and his father (towards the Congress) are the reason the state is doing little to ensure that law and order prevails and that a film cleared by the censor board is allowed to be screened.
Khushboo also speaks up for Senthil. “Why is the academic community across the country not speaking up for him? Why are writers not speaking up for his right to express himself?” she asks. “Why should the issue of freedom of expression be confined to one state?” Khushboo herself had faced trouble, in 2005, for speaking her mind: all she had said was that it was okay for young women to have premarital sex provided they took care to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases.
Your report on Tamil Nadu’s bans (Quick on the Draw, Aug 26) misses the point that, in this age, what is banned gets free publicity and anyway is available on the Internet to watch or read. I am sure quite a few people are thanking J. Jayalalitha.
R.J. Chandra, Phoenix, US
Earlier, the DMK government banned actor Vijay’s home production Kavalan, apparently because he campaigned for the rival AIADMK. When the DMK lost the elections, one of the reasons, it was said, was the ban on Vijay’s film: his young fans did not vote. Now, the AIADMK has banned another one of his films. Let’s wait and watch what happens.
43 D Ramki
You are now writing like a politician ( supporter of "puppy", in your case ), and that is possibly what you have in common with Anuradha ( and many other female Outlook writers )
D 26 Ramki sir
"The one and only political party, that fulfills all these qualifications is
the beloved ruling party of India"
Had this been true we might not have read this!
Misogynist >> Calling everyone "fascist" is farcical. Classically it
describes Hitler! And the closest one could come to being called that, is " puppy", our "national opposition"!
Here are some attributes of a fascist party:
Muzzling of Media ; Building hatred against a group of individuals ;
Organizing mass pogroms and executing the same successfully ; SUspending personal rights and arresting all the political opponents and suspending democracy and repressing judiciary ; Refusing to be transparent in terms of selection of leadership ; Ensuring that Leadership remains within a group or family; Continuously indulging in war and sending army to another nation.
The one and only political party, that fulfills all these qualifications is
the beloved ruling party of India. This party crushed media, suspended personal rights, jailed all opponents, suspended democracy during emergency. The party is controlled by one family and it is totally non transparent in its dealings ; As for hatred, this party has always built an image of an enemy - it was CIA/USA in 1960s to 1980 and it is the hindu right after that ; And for the genocide part, this party successfully conducted mass ethnic cleansing thrice - in 1984 (delhi riots), 1989 (kashmir valley pandits) and 2009 (eelam tamils). It was during the COn party rule that we had not just one but 4 wars - 3 with pak , one with china. And this party sent indian soldiers to do the dirty work of crushing a minority in neighbouring nation (IPKF -1988 to 1990).
In short, CONgress party is the best example of fascism in India.
From a law and order issue, this debate is turning political - which is what the authoress probably wanted
Calling everyone "fascist" is farcical. Classically it describes Hitler! And the closest one could come to being called that, is " puppy", our "national opposition"! Calling an authoritarian like JJ ( with honourable intentions, unlike god-mad-puppies; the media does nt as yet know if she has a role in the numerous TN encounters ) is not right.
While communists are merely inefficient politicians with good intentions, and the only party that seems to have progress in mind ( like China ). Maybe the Maoists are blood thirsty, like "puppy", but how can you tarnish all communists just like that?
D 36 Ramki Sir
"Kerala's Communist are Fascist as well as corrupt. Achuthanandan is a clean man but his thoughts are highly fascist. The other guy is corrupt. It is only a question of opportunities , the Left gets less opportunity to be corrupt."
You Blame any thing including corruption on communists, But they
never are Fascists. They always stood for poor and exploited class.
Thats the only reason they could arrange 50000 persons on Secretariet
gate on short notice. I fail to understand Why BJP or NDA, fight against
corruption like Anna and Kajerwal did. Because their home was not stain free. Two national president of BJP quit on corruption.
Kerala's development in Education and health care is better than any developed country. And people ask qestions, on slightest injustice.
The money order economy, is what the whole middle class loves after IT
And Communists got less chance of corruption you say, may I with all humbleness ask the same qestion to BJP. Son-in law or foster ,You better understand.
I sincerely wish the forthcomming election should be fought on three
things. Inflation, corruption, and Economy. Mission 272!!!
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