Friday, June 10, 2011

Hussein’s death outside India a matter of shame for all of us......the Sangh parivar should hang its head in shame.

Today, politicians of all parties are outshouting each other in praise of this great artist. Even Bal Thackeray has said “Damage may have been caused to modern art due to his demise. That’s all. May Allah give him peace”. Grudgingly acknowledging the greatness of this artist, and yet not willing to accept the narrowness of his thinking which led to the self imposed exile of Hussein in the first place. “May have been caused”??? Even in death, can’t Thackeray be more generous? Why did he have to add “That’s all”?? This is the real danger that India must be alert to....more than all the tamasha that has been played out recently. We are an extremely heterogeneous society and we must protect it. Else, we will be divided into many small fragments in no time at all.

The only reason Hussein left India was the intolerance of “our people”. In reality, it was the intolerance of the RSS, the VHP, the BJP and its friends like the Shiv Sena. These parties look at themselves as the moral policemen of our society and want to dictate to us what we can and can’t do. They are a party of sadhus and sants. They are deeply communal, no matter what kind of a veil they may put on themselves. Every now and then, the veil drops and one gets to see their real image. These self appointed guardians of morality are thugs in reality. Happy to vandalize what doesn’t meet their expectations. Theirs is a fundamentalist approach. They are the makers of the law of morality and also the judges of society’s practice of it. They are the Lokpals of spirituality and religion in India.

An artist is a non-political entity. He/she typically has a kinky side to his/her personality. Many of them are introverts; happy to live in their own world. Many suffer from deep internal emotional distress....even depression. I just saw the Van Gogh museum here in Amsterdam and as is known, this great artist shot himself to death because of his mental condition. Such great artists have no political agenda. They look at life differently. For the Hindus, a goddess represents the essence of religion. For an artist, she’s just an inspiration. What’s wrong with nudes? C’mon....ours has been a pretty raunchy spirituality if we go by the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Stories on Dhritarashtra, Bhishma Pitama and Karan are all too well known. Why have the Hindu protectors not broken down the carvings at Khajuraho? Because they were created by the Chandela Rajputs and not the muslims???

At some point in evolution, a society learns to become tolerant. To care for creativity, no matter what shape it takes. Tolerance, not just the GDP, defines how refined and developed a country has become. There is zero difference between the Sangh outfits and the Taliban in Afghanistan or the hardliners in Saudi Arabia. Would the Sangh have targeted a Hindu artist if he had painted nudes of goddesses? Or did Hussein just become the perfect opportunity for them to further their overtly Hindu brand promise?

Intolerance shows itself up in so many ways in our country. In Maharashtra, usage of the word “Bombay” is now considered a way of hitting at Marathi culture and pride. Really? Or is it just a means to serve a narrow political goal. Is this goal even relevant in today’s times? The people of Maharashtra have voted the Shiv Sena to power only once in the last 45 years since the state was founded. If this was such an emotive issue, why doesn’t the Shiv Sena return to power in the state? Or is it just happy to rule over the municipal corporation of Mumbai....ruling over a cosmopolitan city whose mixed population offers a scope for divisive regional politics?

Many BJP supporters argue that India has been over kind to the minorities (it’s called “appeasement” in political language). First this is not true. The Muslims in India continue to occupy pretty much the lowest rungs of economic development. Second, isn’t it the right thing that minorities should be protected? Indians in Australia are a minority.....aren’t they shouting for the same protection? Isn’t the entire “racial discrimination” discussion about the majority not treating the minority on equal terms? What if the majority there treat them as mere minorities and told them to follow their religious and cultural norms? Instead, if they treated the minorities with respect and welcomed them with open arms, wouldn’t the majority itself gain the image of being progressive?

The real truth is that though we are growing rapidly on the economic front, we have not moved that far ahead on the cultural side. Hussein’s exile proves that. Some of our political parties are extremely intolerant of differences. The entire “hindutva” philosophy of the BJP is based on intolerance. Why should I follow a Hindutva way of life and not any other way that I like? We have seen the extent they can go to....when they broke down the Babri Masjid. But we also saw that the BJP hasn’t ever been able to cross even the 200 MPs mark in Parliament. Doesn’t this tell us that the people are tolerant but the political parties aren’t?


  1. I have two simple questions for you, Prashant. Can you explain why artists' imaginations only run after Hindu Goddesses in particular? Dont you think "ALLAH" should ideally be the most sought after character for the imaginative artists? Afterall, "Allah" does not have any form and it would be a challenge for any imaginative artist to give HIM a form.

    India is still united because of the tolerant character of the Majority (read Hindu). The Majority would remain tolerant. But as in everywhere, there should be a Laxmanrekha for the Tolerance too. And a BJP or a RSS or a VHP has nothing to do with it.

  2. Manab you absolutely spot on. I am not hardliner but i liked Bal Thakarey's approach that i am orthodox and cant see my mother painted naked, but if you are so called open minded and tolerant person then free to draw your mom in whatever way you want. Unfortunately Hussein left india for his own set of reason and cant blame Indian soc for it !

  3. 1. The Muslims in India continue to occupy pretty much the lowest rungs of economic development -- Had they adopted the government stand of two children which almost 99% of the other community families did ... they would not be in this state.
    2. The lowest rungs of economic development -- All the committees have taken it only for muslims. Nobody ever bothered to take a study of the other communities. Had that been done, story would have been different
    3. Hussain -- He is a shame not only to India but to the entire muslim world. Nobody will ever paint their mother nude.