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Modi government is not open-minded: Nayantara Sahgal

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Kolkata: Author Nayantara Sahgal on Saturday criticised the Narendra Modi government for not being open-minded and termed the current situation of “attack on dissent” as the “Indian brand of fascism”.

Sahgal criticised Modi government when she was attending the discussion during the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet.

The way things are proceeding now, under Hindutva, I am just waiting for the day when the culture minister puts sarees on the naked statues at Khajuraho… so that might happen too,

Launching a scathing attack on the Modi government, she said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was open-minded but under the present regime, there was no space for discussions and debates.

Vajpayee was a man with an open mind. The present regime is not open-minded. Hindutva, which is the ruling ideology today, not only is it not Hindusim but we were never told during the last election that this was going to be the ruling policy. The last election was all about development,

 

Sahgal was one of the first authors to return her Sahitya Akademi award in protest against “growing intolerance” in the country.

Dissent is under attack and by that, I mean it is either greeted with sticks and stones or with black paint or with murder,

The government is either silent, which is its answer to this horrible problem or it is defending its Hindutva ideology which is not Hinduism. Hindutva is a very narrow concept which says ‘thou shalt not have other gods before me’.

 

“I think this is the situation we are in today and this is a very dangerous situation for any country. I call it the Indian brand of fascism.”

Asked whether one has the right to offend somebody through one’s works, Sahgal asserted that one has the right to do so with non-violence.

We have the right to give offence in writing, through painting or any form of art or scientific discoveries but the point is in a democratic society all this must proceed with non-violence. Violence is being used by those who do not like disagreement and this must be stopped,

Sahgal, India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s niece, stressed it was not the time to pull back from hurting sentiments.

We have to hurt sentiments. It is high time that we hurt sentiments. If we had been worrying about hurting sentiments we would still be burning widows,

The author also drew attention to the trend of mob censorship.

Censorship used to apply to books, to films and things of that sort. But today it is the mob that decides what is going to be censored,

On the Modi government declassifying files on Subhas Chandra Bose, Sahgal stuck to the plane crash (in 1945) theory of death.

The whole truth about Netaji is he died in that crash and nobody needs to be concerned about anything else, better tell Modi … Bose died in that plane crash,

She also refuted the Sahitya Akademi’s claim that she had agreed to take back the award she had returned in protest.

“The Sahitya Akademi has suddenly decided that it is not their policy to accept returned awards. So why did they not say so three months ago?” she posed.

(Inputs from IANS)

(Picture Courtesy:www.thefrustratedindian.com)

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Attention Readers! Here are Five Books to Look Forward to in November 2017

While October saw a diverse bookshelf, ranging from "Finding my Virginity," by Richard Branson to "The Bhojpuri Kitchen," by Pallavi Nigam Sahay, the upcoming month is more about concrete titles by well-known faces.

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Looking for books to read in November? We have got you covered! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 30, 2017 : With the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize – the two most coveted literary honors – having been awarded earlier in October, the literary season has indeed set in.

Two literature festivals have just concluded in the national capital. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be announced in about two weeks, while the Jaipur Literature Festival is also round the corner. What better time for publishing houses to release the most-awaited books of the year?

While October saw a diverse bookshelf, ranging from “Finding my Virginity,” by Richard Branson to “The Bhojpuri Kitchen,” by Pallavi Nigam Sahay, the upcoming month is more about concrete titles by well-known faces.

Here are five books we can’t wait to read this November

1. “The Book of Chocolate Saints” by Jeet Thayil (Aleph)

One of the most-awaited literary books of the year by Jeet Thayil, a past winner of the DSC prize, the Sahitya Akademi Award and a finalist of the Man Booker Prize. In incandescent prose, Thayil tells the story of Newton Francis Xavier, blocked poet, serial seducer of young women, reformed alcoholic (but only just), philosopher, recluse, all-round wild man and India’s greatest living painter. At the age of 66, Xavier, who has been living in New York, is getting ready to return to the land of his birth to stage one final show of his work (accompanied by a mad bacchanal). Narrated in a huge variety of voices and styles, all of which blend seamlessly into a novel of remarkable accomplishment, “The Book of Chocolate Saints” is the sort of literary masterpiece that only comes along once in a very long time.

2. “Conflicts of Interest” by Sunita Narain (Penguin)

One of India’s foremost environmentalists, Sunita Narain gives a personal account of her battles as part of the country’s Green Movement. While outlining the enormous environmental challenges that India faces today, Narain says political interests often scuttle their effective resolution. She recounts some widely reported controversies triggered by research undertaken by her along with her team at the Centre for Science and Environment, such as the pesticides in colas report, air pollution research in Delhi and endosulfan research in Karnataka, among others. Narain also includes an ‘environmental manifesto’, a blueprint for the direction India must take if it is to deal with the exigencies of climate change and environmental degradation.

3. “Life among the Scorpions” by Jaya Jaitly (Rupa)

From arranging relief for victims of the 1984 Sikh riots, to joining politics under firebrand leader George Fernandes, to becoming president of the Samata Party — a key ally in the erstwhile NDA Government – Jaya Jaitly’s rise in Indian mainstream politics invited both awe and envy. All this even as she continued her parallel fight for the livelihood of craftsmen on the one hand, and conceptualised and ensured establishment of the first Dilli Haat in 1994, on the other. With all the backstories of major events in Indian politics between 1970 and 2000, including her experience of dealing with the Commission of Inquiry and courts regarding the Tehelka sting, the story of Jaya Jaitly makes for a riveting read. A powerful narrative on why being a woman in politics was for her akin to being surrounded by scorpions; this is one of the best books set for release and a hard hitting memoir that offers a perspective on the functioning of Indian politics from a woman’s point of view.

4. “Chase Your Dreams” by Sachin Tendulkar (Hachette India)

Why should adults have all the fun? In his career spanning 24 years, hardly any records have escaped Sachin Tendulkar’s masterly touch. Besides being the highest run scorer in Tests and ODIs, he also uniquely became the first and only batsman to score 100 international centuries and play 200 Tests. His proficient stroke-making is legendary, as is his ability to score runs in all parts of the field and all over the world. And Tendulkar has now come up with this uniquely special edition of his autobiography for young readers.

5. “China’s India War” by Bertil Lintner (Oxford University Press)

The Sino-Indian War of 1962 delivered a crushing defeat to India: not only did the country suffer a loss of lives and a heavy blow to its pride, the world began to see India as the provocateur of the war, with China ‘merely defending’ its territory. This perception that China was largely the innocent victim of Nehru’s hostile policies was put forth by journalist Neville Maxwell in his book “India’s China War,” which found readers in many opinion makers, including Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. For far too long, Maxwell’s narrative, which sees India as the aggressor and China as the victim, has held court. Nearly 50 years after Maxwell’s book, Bertil Lintner’s “China’s India War” puts the ‘border dispute’ into its rightful perspective. Lintner argues that China began planning the war as early as 1959 and proposes that it was merely a small move in the larger strategic game that China was playing to become a world player — one that it continues to play even today. (IANS)

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Saket Suman and was first published at IANS. Saket can be contacted at saket.s@ians.in)