The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Who we are? Don’t we act idiotic so often when we hammer more of social trepidation after every act that demoralizes the formation of a free society?

Many silly fellows would be celebrating and embalming their skin on the victory they achieved today.

Finally Mr. Salman Rushdie called-off his India visit today after much controversy around his Jaipur Literature Festival participation. Instead, he would join via video conferencing and that is not a prospect even remotely potent to fill the gap. I have been part of many such video conferencing events and know how it sucks at times.

It is high time of assembly elections in India and Uttar Pradesh being in the poll mode, almost of the mainstream media had some tough time in giving attention to this episode but, indeed, it got attention, and that shows the scale of this controversy and so the associated stupidity of us as the society, be it our political representatives, be it those issuing Fatwas, be it the so-called assassins by the Mumbai Underworld, be it the art enthusiasts, be it the larger society or be it the PR led high-on-antics organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Jaipur Literature Festival began today. Protesting the controversy on Salman Rushdie’s JLF appearance and Rushdie finally calling it off, some of the authors went on to read passages from the Satanic Verses. That was natural expression of anger on humiliation of freedom of expression in this case. But the way organizers reacted on it was the height of stupidity and certainly not a feature of a literature festival (?). Outrageously, they stopped authors from doing so. It is true the book is banned in India but quoting or reading passages for symbolic protests was the just corollary to what has happened in this case. And literature needs to be free of elements of such impulsive fear.

After 1988, when the Satanic Verses hit the stands, Salman Rushdie was in hiding for almost a decade surviving many Fatwas issued against him on the (blasphemous?) content of the book. He started slowly coming out of hiding and with time had started looking like the same Salman Rushdie, participating in public discourses as and when he thought, tweeting regularly, and more in the Rushdie-style freewheeling, romancing beautiful ladies regularly. And he has been visiting India regularly in the recent past.  

He was there in the first edition of JLF in 2007. The 2007 edition of JLF was almost a failed affair and so was not noticed much in media. Objections were raised even then on his India visit but it had not gained the proportion that it got this time. It has much to do with the increased stature of JLF as a high-profile event on the international circuit. Media, as usual is thronging it with daily special slots given. 2007 to 2011, he had another four visits to India. Ok, objections on Salman Rushdie visiting a country with significant Muslim population have become so customary that Rushdie is now acclimatized to it carrying out his business normally and so we didn’t hear much being reported on objections and controversies on Rushdie’s other India visits in the recent past.

So what happened this time?

It is being said the Rushdie-bashing this time is all about gaining Muslim politics mileage in the upcoming assembly elections in the five states including Uttar Pradesh where Muslim vote is decisive factor in many assembly constituencies. But the Uttar Pradesh election and the JLF combination was there in 2007 as well. It didn’t gain that huge a proportion then. What could be the possible factors for it?

First and the foremost, JLF 2007 was a dull affair with almost negligible media attention. So controversy on Rushdie’s 2007 visit didn’t get attention and the event passed as routine affair.

Polarization of Muslim votes has become a larger factor in this Uttar Pradesh election after clear majority to Mayawati in 2007. Muslim polarization was not clear in 2007 when no party was in clear majority. Now every outfit is rushing to gain attention of the Muslim votes, the vote bank that has been prone to the polarization skullduggery of the political class.

And so after a Muslim cleric issued Fatwa, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot found big security issue in Rushdie’s visit to Jaipur. When the intelligence inputs followed it, we had already expected this move by the government, indeed a face saving exercise, to hide in the garb of heightened threat elements while not acting to give Rushdie a safe stay and passage. Electoral compulsions prevented the regional and the central administrations from doing anything that might have sent ‘not-so-pleasing’ message to the Muslim clerics. It was only cacophonous when Abhishek Manu Singhavi said the government could not be criticized as Rushdie himself decided not to come.

So after the main draw of JLF 2012, Salman Rushdie, not coming, it will be interesting to see the crowd profile and the festival management in the context of the low quotient of literature midst the high quotient of chaos and PR.

And it will remain humiliating to us that, we as a ‘growing and developing society’, once again, surrendered to the fundamentalism of the radical elements.

A blot! A bane!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -