Sociologist and political critic Ashis Nandy has issued a statement clarifying his utterances on corruption and the Scheduled Class-Tribe-OBC people at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Saturday that sparked a huge row demanding his arrest after a case was filed against him.
Even though Nandy left the venue on Sunday, he landed himself in a cesspool of controversy by saying that Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) were the most corrupt, triggering angry reactions and lodging of an FIR against him that could see him behind bars.
What he defended as a comment to paint corruption as the great equalizer in Indian society, he had said: "It is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBCs and the Schedule Castes, and now increasingly from the Schedule Tribes (STs), and as long as this is the case, Indian Republic will survive."
Following is his statement clarifying what he said:
This is not what I meant or what I wanted to say. This is what I actually transpired.
I endorsed the statement of Tarun Tejpal, Editor of Tehelka, that corruption in India is an equalising force. I do believe that a zero corruption society in India will be a despotic society.
I also said that if people like me or Richard Sorabjee want to be corrupt, I shall possibly send his son to Harvard giving him a fellowship and he can send my daughter to Oxford. No one will think it to be corruption. Indeed, it will look like supporting talent.
But when Dalits, tribals and the OBCs are corrupt, it looks very corrupt indeed.
However, this second corruption equalizes. It gives them access to their entitlements. And so, as long as this equation persists, I have hope for the Republic.
I hope this will be the end of the matter. I am sorry if some have misunderstood me. Though there was no reason to do so. As should be clear from this statement, there was neither any intention nor any attempt to hurt any community. If anyone is genuinely hurt, even if through misunderstanding, I am sorry about that, too.
Police seek video of Nandy's remarks
Reports said police were seeking the video of Nandy's session at the festival where he made the remark.
The FIR against him was filed by Dalit leader Kirorilal Meena at the Ashok Nagar police station here. It has been lodged under SC/ST Act and the punishment under it can be up to 10 years in jail. It is also a non-bailable offence.
There has been a clamour for his arrest soon after the remarks and Dalit leaders like Mayawati said he should be put behind bars as soon as possible.
Ashis leaves Jaipur Lit Fest
Nandy left the Jaipur Literature Festival on Sunday.
He was taken out of the venue by the back door, reports said.
After his clarification, Nandy hoped the chapter would close, but protests still persist.
Nandy was the Director of the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for several years and presently he is a Senior Honorary Fellow at the institute and apart from being the Chairperson of the Committee for Cultural Choices and Global Futures.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati said the Rajasthan government should take action against Nandy for his statement.
"The Rajasthan government should take action against this man," Mayawati told media.
"It seems that he has lost his mental balance," she said.
"The organisers of Jaipur Literature Festival should throw him out," Mayawati said.
Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed Nandy for his statement.
"I don't know why he has said it. But no one approves such statements. It is wrong," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told media.
BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Nandy should 'tender his apology' and withdraw his statement.
Festival organiser Sanjoy Roy, however, said it seemed that Nandy's statement was taken out of context.
"I have heard that his saying has been taken out of context. He said that where there is so much difference between rich and poor, there is corruption. It is his personal statement," Roy told media.
The DSC Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 started in Rajasthan's capital Jaipur from Thursday.
The festival will continue till Jan 28 at Diggi Palace in the Pink City.
Jaipur Literature Festival is considered by some as the greatest literary show on earth.