Politics and Padmavati(TH Ed)

 Politics and Padmavati(TH Ed)

Context

Padmavati row

Letter from Salman Rushdie

In February 1989, days after Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran had issued a fatwa against him for his novel The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie published an open letter to Rajiv Gandhi, then Prime Minister

  • He reminded the Prime Minister that his book had already been banned in India in October 1988, under the Customs Act, and that while issuing the curb on its import the Finance Ministry clarified that the “ban did not detract from the literary and artistic merit of Rushdie’s work”. “Thanks for the good review,” wrote Rushdie, adding that it appeared “as if your Government has become unable or unwilling to resist pressure from more or less any extremist religious grouping”

Recalling the letter

It is worth recalling that letter, as it provides a benchmark to map the race to the bottom in the current row over Padmavati

Disregard of SC judgement

The actions of the Chief ministers and those batting for a ban on Padmavati are in complete disregard of the Supreme Court judgment in S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram that the state cannot cite concerns about a “hostile audience” in curbing freedom of expression

Real issue

The issue here is no longer Padmavati or its artistic merit. What is of real concern is the state functionaries ignoring their constitutional responsibility in upholding free expression, and placing themselves alongside those out to intimidate, and release sectarian furies

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