Expressing oneself by speech or in writing or by artistic endeavour or through a play or even through a camera lens is a basic right in a democracy such as India. ItÃÂs a shame that writers, artists, playwrights, filmmakers and others with creative minds have been victims of hate speech and terrorist threats. The recent incident of Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen having to leave India for an unknown destination does not say much for IndiaÃÂs avowed secular credentials.
In 1989 when Salman RushdieÃÂs The Satanic Verses created more than a stir resulting in a fatwa by IranÃÂs Ayatollah Khomeini, India sat on the fence for a long time for fear of offending the Muslim vote. Rushdie is India-born, though in his later years he studied and lived in the UK and currently resides in the United States.
The most enduring example over the past decade of course has been 93-year-old Maqbool Fida Husain, who has been at the receiving end just because his paintings do not appeal to a certain section of his audience. He cannot return to the country of his birth because some obsessed Indians have decided not to let him.
Born on September 17, 1915 in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, itÃÂs not Maqbool FidaÃÂs fault if he was born Muslim. Is it a coincidence that all these earlier aforesaid folk were born Muslim? Or, does the Indian milieu have double standards in India and elsewhere?
Not many people are aware that among the doyenÃÂs masterpieces is a series of 27 paintings that he completed in 1971-72 for the 11th Sao Paolo Biennial on the epic Mahabharata.
Image:M F Husain: Untitled, 1953
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