India’s cultural landscape couldn’t have turned worse. The refusal of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) headed by Pahlaj Nihalani to clear a documentary on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen (pictured) called The Argumentative Indian until words such as “cow”, “Gujarat”, “Hindutva” and “Hindu Rashtra” are either expunged or beeped out is a telling comment on the state of our polity.
These words are not taboo; they are spoken daily by people and commentators alike. The CBFC is upset, presumably because of Sen’s views on cow vigilantism and concomitant lynchings, the Gujarat riots and the project to spread Hindutva ideology and convert India into a Hindu Rashtra.
The ruling dispensation’s rationale — as reflected in the CBFC’s decision — that the country can do without dissenting voices proves the charge that it is no better than an authoritarian regime. Any political system or set-up that refuses to allow critical arguments and opinions is heading towards tyranny.
After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) landslide victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, within months of demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi bragged that he had trounced an “internationally renowned” economist and demolished his economics, despite evidence that the note ban was a financial disaster.
The BJP must ponder why some of India’s finest minds are critical of it and its world view. But perhaps that’s too much to expect from it as it presides over “an authoritarian regime pursuing its own view of what is good”, as Sen has said.
G David Milton Maruthancode
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