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Qatar calling

March 4, 2010

A long time back (as old blog friends would remember) there took place a discussion most interesting.

Not just any discussion but one that is the burning topic of the day(when has it been not?)
One on Freedom of expression.

I thought of writing on this topic but as I went through old links I realized that almost all the points have been covered by those who were part of the debate, including yours truly.

It is also (and I say this in all humbleness) true that I have come to realize that this topic has no right or wrong. Its not a black and white one but one with more grey in between perhaps than any other I have come across.

Vir Sanghvi (wonder of wonders!) has asked the questions that are in my mind too.

The sheer inconsistency displayed by the government of India as well as those who call themselves ‘secular liberals ‘is mind boggling in the extreme.
Different standards for different souls? Why?

Arun Shourie’s “Worshipping False Gods” a book against which the calls for ban have gotten louder. Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” has been banned. Yes, banned. By a government that claims to uphold all that is secular in India.
Dwikhandito and Lajja banned in one place censored partially in another. Why?

Danish cartoons are offensive but Mr Hussain is being creative when he decides to paint certain things.

And Taslima Nasreen hurts ‘religious’ sentiments when she tries to portray religious atrocities that were committed on minorities in Bangladesh .
The poor woman now simply says she never wrote this, she never wrote that. After all, who doesn’t value their life?
Specially, when the government of the country she is in, had ‘secretly’ told her to leave India at the end of the 6 month period.
Also, an argument I am coming across these days (very slyly mind you) is that Ms Nasreen is a shoddy writer at best who might have never become this famous had it not been for the whole controversy.
Well…can we also extend this argument and apply it to a certain Maqbool Fida Hussain?

The Left, that bastion of all things secular? No, my friends not a titter out of them. But ask them about M.F Hussain and they have tomes to write and start suffering from verbal diarrhea.
Despite the writer’s wish to return to Kolkata, the Left Front government in West Bengal did not pay any heed to her request.

The government of India meanwhile sits as a mute spectator on the Taslima issue. Not a peep put of them. Not one. No,Sir.

Infact, Pranab Mukerjee went a step further and gave some friendly advice to Ms Nasreen sometime back.(remember?)
Ofcourse you can live here. Just some self restraint please.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, that poetic and ‘liberal’ soul, Biman Bose and Hashim Abdul Hamil and many other respected Left leaders sought to divert attention away from Nandigram and chose to focus on Ms Nasreen. Not to give her protection but to remain as yet another mute spectator. Get away ! get away from amar bangal they whispered frantically.
Irony of ironies she was whisked away to a saffron ruled state. Rajasthan. And in a burqa.

The FoE topic has been done to death everywhere.And it is a never ending one. The same questions remain except that this time I can ALSO ask Mr Hussain if he has enough freedom in the country that has bestowed the ‘honour’ on him.
More creative freedom for him there in Qatar than India perhaps? Eh Monsieur Hussain?
That country which while living amidst more orthodox neighbors can celebrate its relative freedom and yet also follows Islamic laws and has still not accepted the compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction.
(Yes, I am asking the question too Mr Sanghvi. The one word you inserted to make it all look ‘balanced’. ‘Hindutva wallahs’)
Yes, Mr Hussain says he does enjoy freedom there. In Qatar.

Note:- The flip flops in Mr Hussain’s statements and the contradictions in them have been given here as they are. At the time of editing this post, a new interview was out.Had to include it.

“I enjoy complete freedom in Qatar. Now Qatar is my place. Here no one controls my freedom of expression. I am very happy here,” he said.
Good for you Mr Hussain. I am really glad for you as are many others are I believe. You are at peace. We are at peace. Issue resolved.

Mr Hussain, our courts might be a tad slow (okay..very slow) but justice is given here. If you have enough stamina (as I gather from your plans to devote time to a museum all for yourself and paint for the royal family..btw sound business mind that you have there..I am impressed and all) then surely you also could have fought your battle legally?

I love India but the country rejected me, says M F Husain
No, Mr Hussain. India did not ‘reject’ you as you put it. You rejected India and its judicial system. You accepted the citizenship of another country instead of coming here and facing the idiots who are wreaking havoc. For, is it not you who said that 99% of Indians love me. So am I to infer that the remaining 1% were successful in driving you out?
And who told you to get out of India in the first place?
Was it not a self imposed exile? And if you have been hounded out as many put it what then does that say about the government of India?

Don’t your various family members live in this very India that you have shunned? Are they facing problems? Has a mob burnt down their house? Threatened them?

How can I trust a political leadership that refused to protect me?” he said.
NOW you are asking the right question Hussain Saab.
If they can’t protect YOU, the man who is a ‘legend’ as many say, imagine how they can protect ‘poor us’, the miserable common people who would have had to face mobs hell bent on avenging the ‘insult’ caused by your ‘art’? Huh?
Thank you for sparing our lives as well. For while we understand your art is glorious and all that we have to think of our roti, daal and life (not necessarily in that order though)
The task would be a lot easier if the government protected you as well as us.
But well, that’s Indian democracy for you. Straight out of the wild west.

I know 99% of India loves me…If I’ve offended anyone, I express regret,” he says.

But you have been ‘expressing ‘ this regret since the past two decades Mr Hussain. Infact in that case, Ms Nasreen has gone a step further and denied that she ever wrote what is being attributed to her in the Karnataka daily. Why then this tamasha over her? Why is her apology not being accepted and yours is being seen as ‘from the heart’?
You left the country you love because of a piddly 1%? Tch tch.

But the best part of Mr Hussain’s interview(the new interview) with a certain Ms Dutt is this.

I wanted to do these projects in India but there are so many obstacles you know, it is not easy to work. First there is also the question of finding a sponsor. So, I was waiting, this I decided in 2004 when I came to Dubai to find some sponsor. So, in London I found a sponsor for history of Indian civilization and in Qatar, Sheikha Mozah invited me to do a history of other civilizations and Abu Dhabi will sponsor the project on Indian Cinema, I think in a big way next year. So, to do all these works I have to become an NRI because of the tax structure there (you can ask any corporate and you will know). It’s not only here, it’s all over the world. What’s happening to Polanski, Bergmann in Sweden, he had to leave because he was hounded by tax people. LINK to full transcript of his interview with B. Dutt

Future artists please take note. THIS is how business is done. Unapologetically and with no pretensions. Pehle business, baad mein creativity.
(Why a comparison with Polanski though? :O )

Barkha Dutt: Was this a painful decision for you to surrender your Indian passport?.

MF Husain: This is all, I think the media is suffering from all the pain and agony, I am not.

Hussain Saab if I were rich (which I am not) I promise I would have bought at least one of your paintings. Just for this.

Barkha Dutt: How far do you think freedom of expression can go? Do you think politics of intolerance is shadowing our discourse in India?

MF Husain: Luckily in India there is no serious curb on creative painting. I don’t think it was ever there. Just once there was that attack in Baroda, but what has happened with me is a small thing. We remain a free country.

There you have it. He is A-okay with his decision. Has no emotional problems. It’s a business decision. AND he thinks India is still a free country which does not impose restrictions on creative people. Yipiee.

What? Ah that? Pshhaaw! Please disregard his interview from yesterday. The guy has a right to change his mind.

Who is wrong and who is right? In this debate for Freedom of expression?

I, anguished like so many others at the loss of lives . All in the name of religion and creative expression.
Others anguished at the way ‘their’ gods and goddesses have been treated.
Yet others, who feel that if we bow down in one instance there’s no looking back. We will become a mobocracy.
And all of us (save the goons but then goons themselves are ruling us are they not?) anguished at how very unsafe we feel in our own country.

But in all the chaos, one culprit gets away.The Government that is supposed to maintain law and order. The one that is supposed to protect us. The one that couldn’t ensure that Hussain felt safe in this country. The one that hems and haws when it comes to Taslima Nasreen. Because visions of minority votebank dance in front of its eyes.
So they let evil rule. There is mayhem on the streets. But its all good you see. Because they are secular .They don’t create mayhem. They just let it flourish.

More on this pseudo secular government here.

I remember writing this.

But now,let me ask you when you cite the Constitution regarding ‘Freedom of speech ‘, why should I not cite this again?

Reasonable restrictions can be imposed in the interest of public order, security of State, decency or morality. The government restricts these freedoms in the interest of the independence, sovereignty and integrity of India. In the interest of morality and public order, the government can also impose restrictions.

And you know what? This is exactly what did happen. Just a few days back. It took the government but a day to clamp a ban on a textbook.

The objectionable pictures were printed in the cursive writing exercise books at a private school in Shillong and were noticed by some parents who brought it to the attention of the vastly influential church in Meghalaya “We are shocked and hurt by this act. Jesus Christ has been portrayed in a highly objectionable manner… we condemn the total lack of respect for religions by the publisher,” Mr Dominc Jala, the Archbishop of Shillong, said. “Just imagine students at such an impressionable age being exposed to these blasphemous images,” said Mr T Jrwa, another church leader.

This is creative expression so many could say. Isn’t it? I mean after all we are catching em young and drilling the idea into their heads that freedom of expression is this. (It was a textbook for Class I )
And maybe that would have been fine.
But what would you do with furious parents and teachers? Pray. Do tell.
I am against bans. Of any kind. But if a ban helps in protecting lives because the government is an impotent one, then so be it.
These useless governments find it far easier to ban something than to ensure that an artist has the right to create what he/she wants.
So now what am I to do as an ordinary citizen?
Campaign on the artist’s behalf?
Or heave a sigh of relief that I and my loved ones have lived to see another day and go about earning my daily bread?


My views are best expressed in the words of Ian Buruma.

Nevertheless, free speech is not absolute……If this smacks of political correctness, then so be it. But civilised life, especially in countries with great ethnic and religious diversity, would soon break down if everyone felt free to say anything they liked to anyone. The problem is where to draw the line. Legally, this should probably be the point where words are designed to result in violence. Socially, there are too many variables to establish an absolute, universal principle. The proper limits must be constantly tested, contested, and renegotiated.- Ian Buruma LINK

Can you think of a country more diverse in every way possible than India herself?

Freedom of expression ceases to exist without the freedom to offend.
And we as demonstrated are just not ready for it.
What might be ‘art’ to you might be nothing less than sacrilege for another. So who decides?
You or the ‘other?

Give me one thing and make me shut up. Government of India, I beg of you. Give me consistency. Consistency in your actions. In your words.
Just one word at the heart of it all. One word that will make many like me shut up and shut up for good.

Thank you for the patience for reading this far.Related links given below.


And now, I give you the links to browse through. Though most friends are already aware of the debate that had taken place.

the very first one is a post by Nimmy.
Pragmatics between moral police and one’s freedom of expression

The debate that ensued in the comment section is where it all started.

Then a post on mine

(I apologize for the erratic font size in this post.I assure you the intention is not to shout.:) *effect of shifting from blogspot to WP*)

A post by Nimmy
Who decides the fine line between absolute and relative freedom of expression?

Then another post, again by me where I hoped to finally pen down the thoughts and let it be.

Freedom Continued

And a post by Quirky Indian who made so much sense.

Of Freedom of Expression and the Right Not to be Offended

PS:- Read a brilliant article on How outraged communities are constructed and the role the State plays in constructing them. An eye opener.
Constructing Outraged Communities and State Responses:
The Taslima Nasreen Saga in 1994 and 2007

The actions of these outraged communities cannot be explained by looking only at the dynamics of the group and methods of collectivization of emotion but the role of the state in the process warrants attention as well.

82 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2010 4:46 am

    Take a bow Indyeah !!!

    Have no idea on what to comment (that doesnt mean I didnt read it 😉 ) !!!

    I agree to each point you made there ! and also, thanks for those links ! 🙂

    Personally, I am totally against of what MFH did with his so called art. I am an atheist myself but that was like misusing the freedom of expression; there are billions out there who are offended. If he loved India and Indians, why didnt he think of those Indians whom he knew wouldve been offended with those creations of his. and for all you know, one day he wouldve come up with such an ‘art’ on some of our freedom fighters too ! Would he paint those arabs similarly ?? Ohh, I wish he does !!! 😀 😀

    If you hadnt seen those paintings by that psychopath yet, here they are :

    • Swaram permalink
      March 4, 2010 11:10 am

      If he loved India and Indians, why didnt he think of those Indians whom he knew wouldve been offended with those creations of his. Well said Vimmuuu!
      There ws this debate on a channel where one person said ‘Does the freedom of expression of one man matter more than the beliefs and sentiments of sooo many ppl’.

    • March 4, 2010 1:03 pm

      off topic, but I cant believe I am first here ! 🙂

    • Mystery permalink
      March 4, 2010 3:23 pm

      Thanks for the link Vimmuu.. Heard of his controversial paintings but never had a look..
      As written in the link u mentioned, greater the freedom higher the responsibility and looks like MFH doesnt want to think beyond his freedom of expression…

    • March 5, 2010 2:04 pm

      Thanks Vimmuuu.

      In India, absolute freedom of expression is a distant dream.
      Advocates of absolute freedom of expression speak from a Utopian standpoint.

      Those who advocate complete freedom of expression for artists (and indeed everyone) have no answer to one simple question.

      Whom should we hold responsible for the riots that break out and the loss of lives that follows?
      Why is it that in our democracy, freedom of expression is to be guaranteed and yet freedom from violence and that lingering fear that comes with it is NOT??

      Why is the law and order situation in India so dismal to say the least?

      I simply want to request the government of India to promise me a violence free life.Atleast from fanatics of the religious kind. One in which goondas will not threaten me or anyone else simply because I wrote something. Painted something.

      Promise me this and here. Take the absolute freedom of expression you so crave.

      I am unable to understand M. F Hussain’s art. Though I do have posters of some of his art alongwith other artists. But I am unable to see the ‘hidden meaning/beauty’ in some of his ‘artworks’. Maybe I am a plebian soul who simply doesn’t have the brains to appreciate the ‘sublime beauty’ of his ‘art’.

      The link that you have given is a very important one.
      I wish those who are unaware of the paintings take a look and decide for themselves as to whether they feel offended or not.

  2. March 4, 2010 6:06 am

    I am sometimes clueless about the (espy) political dramas that unfold in India, and am not too good at keeping up with them! So every article I’ve seen on some political issue or the other I generally don’t comment since I’m in no clear position to say, not knowing exactly how things have unfolded! But, I saw that u too have written and so thought , Ok I must read up on it now! So I went over to see the VS interview…phew! Hope u r not bored by all this!

    Anyway, frankly, I believe if one demands freedom one should also balance it with responsibility ! I don’t approve of how the Goddesss Saraswati was portrayed nude, whether I believe in her or not, and I think MFH shd not have gone that far(but that’s my personal take) Besides, how does he think Qatar would be any better than India (makes me laugh at the thought) in letting him get away with such license! I’m sure there is no place tolerant enough for him( except say France)..and he will realise his folly…but I guess now it’s too late !!!
    me- Freedom with responsibility. Exactly Fathy! I have shouted myslef hoarse over this ever since this was first discussed.
    Its no folly Fathy. Qatar is a business decision for him. Pure and simple. And I am very sure he is smart enough to not indulge in anything that will jeopardize his chances of earning that moolah.

  3. March 4, 2010 7:00 am

    Well written as usual, Indyeah!

    “Luckily in India there is no serious curb on creative painting.” So why did he leave? Does this mean that in Qatar, he can paint the Prophet and get away with it? I think not…I think his hands would be cut off if he were to do that…

    I agree with you…I don’t think Hussain did anything wrong; Hindu chauvinists have made an issue out of a non-issue…He’s basically a coward…If what happened to him is a small thing, why did he leave and make it a bigger issue?

    The Govt. of India only protects its own i.e. the politicians…

    Long live flip-flop Hussain!

    • March 5, 2010 2:21 pm

      Thanks Sraboney.
      Does this mean that in Qatar, he can paint the Prophet and get away with it?

      What makes you think that he will even attempt to do it? He is much , much smarter than we give him credit for.
      One day he is lamenting about how he has been ‘victimised’, indeed ‘hounded ‘ out of India. The very next day a complete about turn!
      Really! One almost (almost but not quite) feels sorry for Ms Dutt who must have been plain astonished at this ‘victim’ who refused to say anything about the ‘agony’ and ’emotional trauma’ that she and others of her ilk were sure he was going through. Infact MS Dutt and her awesome channel had successfully convinced India of the very same.

      Hussain is a master of these games. Not a mere artist is he. No, Sir. He knows when to say.What to say.

      That aside,now that its clear that he has no hassles in moving to Qatar for the sake of business, I am astonished at the breast beating that is being carried on by the ‘liberals’ of India. All mourning the death of ‘liberalism in India’ .

      I tell you. A more hilarious sight is not to be found.

  4. March 4, 2010 8:39 am

    I just wanted to add, Indyeah, that my beliefs cannot be influenced by external forces…So, for instance, if I believe in Goddess Durga, Hussain’s depiction of her won’t in any way influence or agitate me…I feel in this case both the painter and the protesters had their own agendas to fulfill…The whole issue is not about freedom of expression or religion but economics and politics…
    me- You are right. I can choose to ignore such things. They have(and should have ) no effect on me. My gods and goddesses and my worship of them is not dependent on what someone paints or writes. My god doesn’t need me to speak for him.

    Yes,its a political game.
    Always has been infact. Only difference is that the damn farce is now out in the open.

  5. March 4, 2010 11:42 am

    I think I defend Hussain’s choice to quit the country and go live elsewhere. He’s 95, a young 95 but age makes his days on the planet limited, and if he can be creative elsewhere in his remaining years, more power to him. I do think he tested limits and is facing the consequences of that.

    However, I do feel that the Government was tested in this entire episode and failed miserably.
    me- Absolutely! He can choose to do whatever it is that he wants. As a citizen of India he is (was) guaranteed that right.
    The problem I had was with the drama of ‘victimhood’ that had been going on since the past few years.
    Atleast now he has made it amply clear and for that I am thankful to him. The guy was atleast straightforward in the Dutt interview.
    I doubt very much though if he can be ‘creative’ in that country he has chosen.
    The decision at 95 seems to be about money and a desire most human to leave behind a legacy that ensures that his name will be carried forward through his works. Exhibit A > the museum that is being talked about.
    The museum though will not touch upon ‘certain’ topics . Be assured of that.

  6. March 4, 2010 12:12 pm

    A little over a year after the first discussion, we revisit the topic…..

    I have been toying with the idea of making that post of mine a sticky post – at least for a few days. I just might do it.

    My views haven’t changed. I still maintain that Freedom of Expression is of paramount importance in a society that wants to be democratic and free. So Hussain has every right to paint what he wants, and Taslima has every right to write what she does. What really bothers me, as it did a year ago, is the hypocrisy our ‘liberals’ (sadly, it’s become such a dirty word today….) who come out strongly in support of Hussain, but do not utter a word in favour of people like Taslima.

    Quirky Indian

    • March 4, 2010 10:04 pm

      QI, Totally concur with you. I maintain the same stand. I don’t care what Husain paints or Salman writes. The hypocrisy though irks me. It is this hypocrisy that makes fanatics fool ordinary people.

      In past couple of weeks, I have read views of so many well-read people and am glad all of them at least once spoke of this hypocrisy.
      me- In past couple of weeks, I have read views of so many well-read people and am glad all of them at least once spoke of this hypocrisy
      Yes. That makes me darn glad too. The hypocrisy became too evident and in -your- face for them to ignore. Or else I am sure they would have continued doing the same old.

    • March 5, 2010 2:40 pm

      @QI What really bothers me, as it did a year ago, is the hypocrisy our ‘liberals’ (sadly, it’s become such a dirty word today….) who come out strongly in support of Hussain, but do not utter a word in favour of people like Taslima.

      You said it QI.
      The hypocrisy that gets me mad like nothing else. Makes me fume.

      Let everyone create what they want. Irrespective of religion. Of any other factor.
      Give all of them the very same protection. The very same encouragement. Make sure you stand up for all the artists, India’s ‘liberal’ individuals!

      THEN I would believe that this indeed is the India that can proudly say it ensures complete freedom of expression for its citizens and anyone else who wants to live here.
      PS:- Yes. Good idea. Do make it a sticky post. I think many need to read all possible viewpoints on this topic.Specially in light of all that has happened.

  7. March 4, 2010 12:26 pm

    The sheer inconsistency displayed by the government of India as well as those who call themselves ’secular liberals ‘is mind boggling in the extreme.

    I agree totally with the above.. and other than that, after listening to the interview on TV and when I heard him mentioning taxes as the one reason for him to choose Qatar, I decided it is time to leave Hussain to let him explore the freedom of Qatar 🙂

    But then our politicians wont let this drama die would they? they would then have to concentrate on important issues…

    me- when I heard him mentioning taxes as the one reason for him to choose Qatar, I decided it is time to leave Hussain to let him explore the freedom of Qatar
    You said it in this one line HK. 🙂 Yes, time to move on and let him be as ‘creative’ as he wants to be in Qatar.
    Yes. Our politicians will lament some more about the death of ‘liberalism’ in India. And how we should ‘hang our heads in shame’ as Indians. Surprisingly, I feel none of that shame ever since I read about Hussain’s business interests and how he is happy in his new home. May he have a good life there.

  8. March 4, 2010 12:35 pm

    The problem is simple- we tend to subconsciously compare the west and us. Now going by that, we have a bigger tradition of letting people write and say what they want.

    But maybe, just maybe, our people have lost their true culture? i.e. letting artists be artists? Maybe the so called influence has left us confused and we fight against anything and everything without trying to understand the real nature of it?

    As someone who writes(see in my eyes I am a poet, writer, but others might not think of me in the same light), I tend to put myself in these artists shoes…whatever they right, paint or do, still is a representation of something that exists, either in reality or otherwise.

    Now artists are not terrorists are they? We have a choice, to look at the painting or not, to read their words or not. Propaganda can be avoided, if the so called interpreters have better sense.
    me- Yes, well said Vichu. We do have a choice to ignore things that we don’t like. Artists are free to do what they want. But they should keep in mind the dynamics of the society they live in. As you yourself pointed out we , ie the liberals of India set our level of tolerance by looking at the west. But the west also has restrictions in place. It is not a free for all there contrary to pouplar belief.
    Forget the west even. The point is that a multicultural , mutilrieligious highly sensitive society demands a different set of rules.

    I have read Rushdie(though not Satanic verses) and at first I felt something was wrong. But the more I think about it, there is some water in the solution. We all know enough people who curse God, who openly slander, should we then beat them all up? Should everyone keep their tongues tied?
    me- The problem is not with who curses god or doesn’t. The true followers of different religions couldn’t care less.
    The problem is with the handful of politically motivated sick people who try to gain political mileage by making such non-issues a burning topic.

    Look at Tharoor today. The fellow speaks English and discovers that the Media, itself has a pretty bad idea of language, usage etc Look at what’s happening in Mumbai.

    Yes there might be other reasons for him to take up the citizenship of some other country. There are many Indians who have taken up American citizenships, do we then say they are traitors? It is their choice.
    me- I dont think anyone should or infact has called him a traitor. Have they?
    I personally had a problem with the way his decision of taking Qatar’s citizenship was being portrayed as a blot on India’s famed liberal values. Thank god he made it crystal clear in the recent interview that his decision was a business decision. Now ‘liberals’ can stop mourning the ‘death’ of freedom of expression’ in India.

    There are other things which I am learning. I don’t want to talk about them here in the public domain, because I haven’t thought enough and also because I doubt if many can see things the way I see it.
    me- share whenever you feel you are ready. There are many who would listen with an open mind even if they dont agree.

    In reality what you say is true. But still I tend to think that, this reality is because of the fact that we are some what lost and not sure of our own identity at this epoch.

    Guess this comment is long enough 😛
    me- 🙂

    • March 7, 2010 11:24 pm

      but how can artist by himself draw the boundaries/limits? There should be real rules then..and hey! wouldn’t that be abusing democracy then?

      We are taking about duties I guess..But why then selectively apply it?
      me- But isnt democracy all about rules Vichu? Rules are what make a democracy .
      And in addition to following the rules in a democracy we are also supposed to fulfill our duties right?
      We have the freedom to demand our ‘rights’, but there is no compulsion on us to do our duties…

      and yet….isnt that what a democracy asks us to do? Morally?
      No one puts a gun to our head…it just is something we are expected to do.

      You might decide not to vote and noone can force you to do so.But it would be highly desirable and good for your country if you did, right?

      In the same manner I cannot decide what is to be painted by you and what is not.

      But at the same time I would implore you. That you as an artist please keep the dynamics of the society you are living in, in mind before you create something.

      Will you listen to me? Thats upto you entirely. I cannot force you. I can merely appeal to your conscience.

  9. March 4, 2010 12:54 pm

    Excellent post!
    Hussain’s interview to NDTV was an eyeopener. I admire Hussain’s work like so many people all over the world but as a fan of his art I think he let us down. If he is convinced that he has done nothing wrong he should have faced the courts and lived anywhere in the world with his head held high. He is not a hapless North Indian taxi driver who is scared of being attacked on the roads of Mumbai by MNS workers. Mumbaikars care and they have shown that in the recent Shahrukh case, and this is true about most Indian cities. I seriously don’t know how he will find creative freedom in Qatar which is not even a democracy.

    • March 5, 2010 3:41 pm

      Thanks Prerna. An eye opener it certainly was.
      He has a right to do what he wants. He can become a citizen of any place in the world. I think he has every right to. What I didn’t like was his earlier statement about how India had ‘betrayed ‘him.

      When the judiciary in India is still pondering over his cases, when there are so many to fight the battle with him..THEN he goes out of India on his own, takes up the citizenship of another country and then makes the absurd claim that India ‘betrayed’ him?

      However, now that he has made clear the reason behind his acceptance of the Qatari citizenship , I have no hassles.
      May his ‘art’ flourish there.

      Regarding ‘creative freedom’ in Qatar, I doubt if that was what he was looking for in the first place there.

  10. ves permalink
    March 4, 2010 2:08 pm

    Well I doubt very much that MFH can paint everything he wants there …. well he can, but showing it around would be a different point (remember the danish incident-not with him of course)
    As for displaying work, usually curators decide (read eg Kranz of Guggenheim statement I reproduced on my website). For the rest you know what I think.
    Anyway I find all this business very sad… problems aside.
    me- Yes, creating art and displaying that art are two different things altogether. Though even in his private life can he really get away with creating certain things even if he doesn’t display them? I doubt it. If the art is found ‘blasphemous’ he will be dealt with severely in his new home.
    Yes, I remember the statement on your blog. As also these lines. They have become imprinted on my brain by now.
    I think Bradley said a book burns at 485 ° ; at what temperature does a painting burn. And your freedom, gal?
    Yes, I know how you think.:)

  11. March 4, 2010 2:13 pm

    Fantastic views, expressed so well !!!

    Even I laughed to myself at the joke that MFH thinks that Qatar will give him more freedom of expression. Let him do one stroke of nudity on anything, living at Qatar – he will regret his citizenship !!!!

    I think I too agree on Ian’s line – The problem is where to draw the line.
    me- Thanks Uma.
    I doubt if he would let loose his ‘creativity’ there.

    About where to draw the line.
    That is a never ending question(as it well should be) in vibrant democracies. And liberals of all democracies should constantly be searching for the answers instead of making a final statement on the same.

  12. Vedang permalink
    March 4, 2010 2:33 pm

    With reference to the article titled ‘ How an artist was shorn’ by Mr. Salil Tripathi, in Livemint, dated 4th March 2010. Please note that I am just a common man and have nothing to do with any political mileage. The article rightly points out how religion/ caste matters create trouble repeatedly. However, in my humble opinion, it wrongly points out only India as a country where these issues happen. While it has pointed out that Satanic Verses was banned in India, please note that in the Muslim community the novel caused great controversy for what many Muslims believed were blasphemous references. As the controversy spread, the book was banned not only in India but also saw burning demonstrations in the United Kingdom. In mid-February 1989, following a violent riot against the book in Pakistan, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran and a Shi’a Muslim scholar, issued a fatwa calling on all good Muslims to kill Rushdie and his publishers, or to point him out to those who can kill him if they cannot themselves. Salman Rushdie had to go into hiding even in the U.K.

    Even though the article projects MF Husain as a victim and India as a villain, I would say that he is still unscathed and remains celebrated only because he was in India and he played the mischief on a tolerant community. While we give freedom of expression, we do not give right to hurt some one’s sentiments. What explanation can MF Husain give for such paintings? The only explanations given were that nudity depicts purity and nudity is celebrated in India at Khajuraho. If nudity in any form only depicts purity, why doesn’t he try and bestow that purity on the prophet Muhammed. Wasn’t he in flesh and blood? Let him do that in Qatar and then we will see what happens to the citizenship. As far as Khajoraho is concerned, it is the birthplace of celebrated art of Kamasutra. An artist should understand how nudity could depict purity or, otherwise extreme insult.

    As far as the concern for the future of arts in India goes, Sir, India has a history of celebrating them be it F.N. Souza or S.H. Raza or Tyab Mehta. Indian arts would be an encyclopedia in itself….irrespective of religion of the artist. There has been a reason for which MF Husain has been an exception.

    Food for thought: Danish cartoons, Da Vinci Code. Jesus with a beer bottle. btw Ajmal Kasab is facing the jury as per law.

    • March 5, 2010 3:53 pm

      Welcome here Vedang. Your comment is addressed to Salil Tripathi regarding his article I assume. Therefore, I can not comment on the same.

      I agree with a lot of (though not all) points that you have stated here.

      As far as the concern for the future of arts in India goes, Sir, India has a history of celebrating them be it F.N. Souza or S.H. Raza or Tyab Mehta. Indian arts would be an encyclopedia in itself….irrespective of religion of the artist
      I agree completely.

  13. March 4, 2010 2:44 pm

    I feel even of we do find something offensive, we should follow democratic procedures. Threats of violence or violence are unacceptable in a Democracy.

    Fundamentalists have no religion from India to Bangladesh to Denmark some people will always think they have a right to dictate what some other people read, sketch, laugh at, wear, pray, write, watch, admire, drink, love or ignore.

    I agree with you Indyeah – our government is not able to make most of us feel safe. Not just those who have been threatened but even those who have not actually been threatened feel unsafe in most parts of India. 😦

    • March 5, 2010 4:15 pm

      The point in my post was not at all about the violence. Far from it. Violence, all of us condemn. And in unequivocal terms as any sane human being would.

      The point I am making is why this hypocrisy?Why the double standards?
      Why is it that anything to do with Hinduism is highlighted with much glee? By the pseudo secular government that seeks to defend Hussain and yet thinks that Nasreen is nothing short of a pariah.

      The government, that in merely a day bans a textbook depicting Christ with beer and cigarette.
      No debate sought at all. Where did creativity disappear then?

      The government that bans Rushdie’s book because it ‘offends’ religious sentiments of muslims.

      Why such blatant hypocrisy? Why the farce called secularism then?

      Because ‘certain’ communities might get offended? And then where would the votes *oh horror!* go?

      Double standards by sections of the media who seem to live in a delusional world of their own.
      Double standards by those like us who pounce upon issues related to Hindusim.

      It brings out the ‘activist’ in them. And yet remain mum on issues concerning other religions. Taliban all of us condemn. Why? Because its easy to do so. They are fanatics and most importantly they are not Indians.
      But why do I not see the same people condemning anything bad regarding Islam in India?
      Political correctness at play?
      Doesn’t a muslim man/woman deserve equal right to be heard?
      She/he should keep on suffering all in the name of religion just becasue India’s liberal souls’ find it politically incorrect to point out certain evil practices in Islam or Christianity?

      Shouldn’t violence be condemned irrespective of who or which community is involved?

      I am just plain amazed when I see people carefully picking their battles based on religion.
      Muthalik and Co, SS , MNS and others of the ilk .

      Yes IHM, fundamentalists have no religion.
      But those in India who call themselves ‘liberals , the guardians of our freedom slot fundamentalists into separate categories based on their religious affiliations. And the severity of their crimes is gauged accordingly.

      • March 5, 2010 4:27 pm

        Simply brilliant!

        • aks permalink
          March 5, 2010 6:21 pm

          Fully Agree…Awesome post…and a brilliant comment you made here….!!!

      • aks permalink
        March 5, 2010 6:19 pm

        Fully Agree…and btw…Awesome post…and a brilliant comment you made here….!!!

  14. March 4, 2010 2:50 pm

    Hussain is a flip flop king. But considering his age, just let things be. Let him go and stay wherever he wants. We cant deny the fact that the law and order machienery in our country failed to protect him. His paintings might be offensive, but there is a proper mechanism to get him punished.

    Hussain chickened out. So did our nincompoop CONgress govt.
    me- Hussain is a flip flop king.

    While it is easy to say this statement now…it wasn’t that long ago that people would have shied away from making this statement. Now that the farce is out in the open, no one can turn a blind eye to his drama.

    I fail to see what age has to do with anything.
    Of course, we are letting him be. Infact he has ensured it by becoming a citizen of Qatar.

    Whether his paintings are offensive or not is another question.
    However, what intrigues me to no end is the way ‘liberal souls’ in India spout quotes by the dozen regarding freedom of expression in India when it comes to Hussain and yet lament about how so many cases have been filed against him.

    Uh? Last time I checked the legal route WAS the best one to take in a democracy. Would the liberals prefer more violence instead of legal cases?

    I don’t know if he ‘chickened ‘ out as you say. But he definitely has better things to do in life(like earning some money and work while he is at it) than his ‘sympathizers’ who still are suffering from the ‘pseudo secular’ hangover.

    About the government? The less said the better.

  15. Mystery permalink
    March 4, 2010 3:28 pm

    Loved your analysis of the MFH interview Indyeah. He might be a great artist and i am not denying the fact. but publicizing and politicizing the fact that he accepted qatar citizenship is really stupid. Whatever be the reasons, he wished to move to a different country and i dont find a reason why we should feel offended/sad with that decision..
    me-thanks Mystery.
    Politicizing the issue is exactly what the whole drama was all about.
    Whatever be the reasons, he wished to move to a different country and i dont find a reason why we should feel offended/sad with that decision..
    Exactly my thoughts too.

    • Mystery permalink
      March 4, 2010 3:30 pm

      irrelevant comment: the side bar looks great, the signpost in ladakh, the paintings and the 80s wala collage are too good..
      me-thanks Mystery:)

  16. March 4, 2010 5:57 pm

    you nailed it..i could not see anything more than pure business sense in all the controversy, and we all know who is benefiting. Time to be more tolerant and empathetic towards fellow citizens than expect anything from the government
    me- Pure business it certainly was.
    For more tolerance the government’s help is required in a democracy. In fact, a truly secular government is one of the strongest pillars of a democracy. As long as we keep having governments that look at us through religious glasses, that much sought after tolerance cannot be achieved. The pseudo secular governments will ensure we never achieve it.

  17. March 4, 2010 6:38 pm

    Well, I have to say that the long wait for a post from you was well worth it, Abhi. Fantastic post- and written from the heart as always!

    • March 4, 2010 10:13 pm

      Agree with Manju. The wait is worth.

      Indy, if you are going to churn out posts like this then please take long breaks. 😀

      Take a bow, girl! You nailed it.

      @Manju-Thanks a lot Manju:)

      @Solilo- Thank you so much too:)

  18. March 4, 2010 6:48 pm

    The problem in India is that each has a bit too much of freedom.Our all successive govts have used or misused all this for vote bank politics and the likes of Hussain have used it to their advantage by discrediting India and Indians .On top of it we have this anti-Hindu meduia bias which is making the situation worse because media seems to be favouring a particular section of the polity.
    All that apart,Hussain feels India did not give him enough freedom!!!! well now let him sit in Qatar and paint the prophet in the nude as he did with Hindu Goddess, and wait for the reaction.
    I think talking of Hussain is just a waste of time.
    We could really discuss as to why people like him have so much freedom in India.

    me- He felt India did not give him enough freedom in one interview. In the next interview he did an about turn and claimed that India never had and still doesn’t impose restrictions on its artists. ANd that what happned with him was a ‘small’ thing.

    Talking of Hussain at this juncture is very important in my opinion Sir. For what better time to uncover the real faces of the political parties as also certain sections of the media not to mention those who call themselves ‘secular liberals’? We always knew the truth about the face that lay behind the mask. But how disgustingly ugly is that face is something we have discovered only in the past few days.

  19. March 4, 2010 7:13 pm

    Bravo..I wanted to have a similar post incorporating mine,yours and Charakan’s thoughts,and of course adding other contributors too..But then, i didn’t get enough time,but it is still there in my mind.. You have said what i wanted to,but maybe i can add something more,but not now..I have exam tomo 😦 gotta go now..again,a brilliant post..

    I will add more to Happy KItten’s comment ” I decided it is time to leave Hussain to let him explore the freedom of Qatar ” 🙂
    me- That debate was an interesting one.
    Thanks Nimmy.
    PS:-Hope your exam went well.

  20. anrosh permalink
    March 4, 2010 7:58 pm

    artists have no time for DIRTY politics.
    me- There are artists and then there are artists.

  21. March 4, 2010 9:58 pm

    We have discussed so much on FoE in the past 2 weeks on twitter that now there is not much left for me to write here. You and I are on the same page here so as always I concur with everything you wrote here. Still let me add some of the things from top of my mind.

    I’m glad that you mentioned banning of books featuring Jesus with a Beer and Cig and also Taslima Nasreen’s article. This will at least put things into perspective for those who are always aggressive to jump and blame anything “Hindutva”. Whatever that means! Vir Sanghvi had to mention that to balance out his article. 😉 We must give it to him that the guy is more open today thanks to twitter. Also, it is refreshing to see many journos actually voicing the same opinion as ours and taking about the hypocrisy.

    Fanatics are just that. They don’t have any religion. This is what often repeated when any terror strikes and still we see people maligning Hinduism often without any apology. I like discussing politics when people involved in the discussion can provide different perspective and not just cheer dancing on Muthalik’s face paints and Thackeray’s stupidity. Real issues and politics is much above that. We have learned a lot from interacting on twitter. Haven’t we?

    I don’t care for fanatic idiots like Thackerays or his cronies. They don’t represent me and they don’t matter to me.

    Frankly, even MF Husain’s paintings don’t hurt my sentiments because it doesn’t matter to me that he chose to represent the gods I believe in a certain way. According to me, he doesn’t need to live by the norms of believers. It is like this. To me Sarawati represents knowledge but to him Sarswati is just a beautiful woman from a Hindu epic. He is free to interpret Saraswati the way he likes as a non-believer. Same should be the case with other religions. Muslims believe that images of god are blasphemy but non-believers don’t need to live by this norm. This is why I asked,

    Should the world run according to the whims of believers? Should art and music follow their norms?

    What irks me is the hypocrisy. The hypocrisy with which people compare the paintings to old temple architecture the hypocrisy with which people justify a certain form of dressing as freedom to wear anything and still question certain rituals even when it is done by choice.

    Newspaper that published offensive cartoons of Prophet also apologized. So much for freedom of expression.

    We appreciate Venus De Milo, ancient Greek statue. Will it be appreciated today if sculpted in a similar fashion with religious figures? It is the same case with old temple statues.

    I have answer to the question that I asked above.

    It is easy to incite people in present time b/c of hypocrisy and lack of tolerance. Religious disharmony today curbs FoE.

    As for Husain moving to Qatar,

    People who find better job perspective leave India and get US citizenship. Don’t they? Husain too moved to greener pastures. He cleared it on his latest interview that accepting Qatar citizenship is purely a business choice. I appreciate him for being frank.

    I concur with his views that “Creative person is a nomad.” Polanski comparison was unnecessary though. He is happy in his new home with his new found freedom then so be it. Let him be Qatared.

    • March 5, 2010 5:39 pm

      I agree. It definitely is a welcome change. So many journalists talking about the hypocrisy. The pot overfloweth as they say.

      Yes, Twitter is a great platform for interesting debates and informed discussions. It is an amazing place to bounce ideas and get reactions .

      Fanatics are just that. They don’t have any religion. This is what often repeated when any terror strikes and still we see people maligning Hinduism often without any apology.
      That is India for you. And India’ very own brand of ‘secularism’.

      He is free to interpret Saraswati the way he likes as a non-believer. Same should be the case with other religions. Muslims believe that images of god are blasphemy but non-believers don’t need to live by this norm.

      One simply wonders. Will such a day come to pass?

      This logic is mighty uncomfortable for Indian ‘secularists’ to digest Solilo. What in god’s (pun intended) name are you suggesting? 😉

      The hypocrisy with which people compare the paintings to old temple architecture the hypocrisy with which people justify a certain form of dressing as freedom to wear anything and still question certain rituals even when it is done by choice.

      Quite simply I agree.

      Regarding Hussain’s interview and his reason for moving there. I too appreciate his straightforward attitude about the whole thing. Atleast finally he has made up his mind on what to say. And what to do.

      People who find better job perspective leave India and get US citizenship. Don’t they? Husain too moved to greener pastures. He cleared it on his latest interview that accepting Qatar citizenship is purely a business choice.
      Would you also pass this tidbit to the guardians of India’s secularism? The ones who say we should hang our heads in shame collectively as a nation?

      Yes, a creative person is indeed a nomad. Accepted.
      What then of Hussain Saab’s drama all these years though? It took him this long to say that he has been out of India of his own will?

      The Polanski comparison just pure baffled me.
      PS:- Incisive comment Solilo. Loved reading it for its sheer clarity of thought.

  22. March 5, 2010 8:56 am

    Brilliant post and terrific comments, the best, in my view, Solilo’s. Really there is nothing left to add. But I must say two things. One Husain is clearly a businessman first; he in Qatar because he’s got a terrific deal. Two, he has never had any doubt in his head that in the exercise of his right to FoE, Islam was not included. That is why he never ever attempted to create anything that, even in his own mind, could be ever considered remotely offensive to Islam. That is why he says that he can create what he wants to in Qatar with full freedom.

    The double standards of our so-called liberals who are weeping for a happy Husain who is laughing all the way to the bank in complete freedom in an environment that any real liberal will find suffocating are not only shocking but disgraceful. There is simply no balance or tolerance in them at all.

    Liberals brandish Voltaire at those who feel offended by what they approve but forget him the moment they are offended!
    me- thank you Sir.
    Solilo’s comment is definitely the most incisive one.
    Yes, he is a businessman and a smart one at that. Your words regarding M.F Hussain’s interpretation of FoE and his statement regarding the freedom he enjoys in Qatar are thought provoking.

    I seriously fail to understand the very same . How in the world will the man who needed complete freedom or nothing at all in India be able to work there in Qatar?
    Your first statement then bears serious thinking.

    India’s ‘liberals’ are beating their chests still. And irrespective of what M.F Hussain says or doesn’t say this ‘mourning the death of liberalism in India as also the mourning the loss of a great Indian artist will continue for sometime.
    Even if the said artist keeps reiterating about how very ‘happy’ and content he is in his new home.

    Liberals brandish Voltaire at those who feel offended by what they approve but forget him the moment they are offended!
    To quote someone in a different context but one which I feel holds true here as well.
    Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. ~Abbott Joseph Liebling
    To twist the words a bit, Freedom of expression is the sole right of only those who call themselves India’s ‘secular liberals’. When with them it is freedom, when with others it turns into harassment. Be it a simple legal case.

  23. March 5, 2010 9:07 am

    The latest on Hussain saga is that yesterday on Times Now TV he said that he is not in Qatar because of security reasons and he will come back, time not yet decided. He hasn’t given up his Indian citizenship.
    IHM I absolutely agree with you.
    me- All his interviews these days are a constant source of entertainment:)

  24. March 5, 2010 1:10 pm

    Nice to see your beautiful post after a long long time, Indyeah! Already so many informative comments are there. Enjoyed reading so many angles to this topic.

    As far as I know, Hussain is a good painter and now, he is world renowned. He was not very rich until a few years back. Only now he has started earning money. He is tooo old too! He might have been advised to take this offer for making more money! I don’t think that he will hate India and go there and paint more offensive paintings of our goddesses. He is a painter and artists are famous for their eccentricities. Normally, these people should be excused. But our fanatics are taking advantage of the situation.

    He will come back, maybe after completing the contract which is not yet divulged! He will be more creative in his own environment…the Govt. can try to control the fanatics, if possible or will they?!

    Like it is always said, a coin has got two sides…another side is, will he have guts to paint Jesus or Mohammad in an offensive way?! Will those religion followers leave him alive?

    Indians, esp. Hindus are highly tolerant people…a very minute section of our people are fanatics. Media is enjoying and hyping and whoever wants their names in bold letters in the newspapers, are using it! Hussain will be forgotten after a week or two!

    I missed writing long comments, Indyeah, thank you!

    • March 7, 2010 2:40 pm

      Thanks a lot Sandhya:)
      It feels really good to write after so long.

      I don’t know if he will paint more ‘offensive’ paintings or not. He is an artist and one with ‘eccentricities’ as you have written. So he is free to apint whatever he wants. He had that freedom here . In India. I think his freedom has become restricted there. But why are only all of us able to see this and not him?
      What puzzles me greatly , in fact astonishes me is his statement that he has ‘complete freedom’ there in Qatar.
      Perhaps Hussain Saab’s definition of freedom has undergone a radical change in the past few years.
      And if that be the case, then what was the problem that he had with India?
      Better than Qatar any day I say!

      He has chosen the option that feels comfortable to him. So be it then.
      Whether he comes back or not is best left to him.
      I think India is not that unsafe for him that he cant even come back.

      Like it is always said, a coin has got two sides…another side is, will he have guts to paint Jesus or Mohammad in an offensive way?! Will those religion followers leave him alive?

      ah yes! the Million dollar question(literally!) Hussain Saab is no fool.

      Indians, esp. Hindus are highly tolerant people…a very minute section of our people are fanatics. Media is enjoying and hyping and whoever wants their names in bold letters in the newspapers, are using it! Hussain will be forgotten after a week or two!

      I agree. The whole issue has been given political (and religious) overtone.
      I love reading your thoughts too Sandhya.:)

  25. March 5, 2010 1:30 pm

    Glad to see you speak on this . The last para sums it up really well . “Consistency” . Or as I like to put it , one yardstick for all .

    On a personal note , I still can NOT understand why the hell did he paint all the deities naked ? His own mother is well clothed , and my Divine Mother is naked . Why ? Even in our depictions of Kali , the private areas are covered , symbolically as well .

    And whenever the media brings Husaain up , they never show the controversial paintings ? Why do they skirt around those ? They should show them as well , along with his other art .

    • March 7, 2010 2:58 pm

      ‘One yardstick for all’ describes it perfectly Kislay!
      Exactly! This is what so many like us have been talking about.
      Why this two facedness? Why the hypocrisy? And such a blatant one at that? All pretensions have been given up.
      Now no attempts are even being made to show (no matter how false) that things are being treated on an equal level in this country that we call India.

      Instead the argument is that minorities are hurt easily. Majority is supposed to be tolerant. Maybe they think this ‘tolerance’ is in the genes of the ‘majority’?

      I think this tolerance /intolerance talk is absolute crap! (pardon the language)
      No one is less tolerant or more tolerant.
      Just don’t cosset or pamper one community at the expense of another.
      Thats all we ask.

      Do that and indulge in absolute freedom of expression. No questions asked.
      Naked or not all the deities/gods of all religions will be painted the same way.
      And then I couldn’t care less.

      And whenever the media brings Husaain up , they never show the controversial paintings ? Why do they skirt around those ? They should show them as well , along with his other art .

      You must have gone through the link that Vimmuu has given I am sure. There are also other such links on the net.

      This ‘showing’ on TV about what exactly Hussain Saab paints is the biggest question.

      You see, the ‘liberals’ have been telling us since ages that the aam aadmi couldnt care less about such paintings , that his/her gods are above such things.
      (Btw it is most amusing to note that presumably only Hindu gods and goddesses and their followers are expected to be above such things.)
      And that a handful of fanatics hijack the issue and inflame sentiments.
      IF they show these paintings this lie of aam aadmi couldn’t care less will be out in the open.

      The aam aadmi while not a great connoisseur of modern art WILL be able to understand the paintings of M.F Hussain.
      After all Hussain Saab leaves nothing to the imagination.

      And just in case he/she is not able to then Hussain Saab’s interesting titles give the game away.

      Sita,Ram, Hanuman, Saraswati, Rape of India…go pick what you like.
      But remember always your gods are above all this and you are too.
      Dont forget this golden ‘dharma’ of every Hindu.
      You might think of yourself as an Indian first.
      But people will ensure that your identity as a Hindu takes precedence in your mind.

      I wish some new intern at Ms Dutt’s channel messes up and telecasts the paintings one day.

  26. March 5, 2010 2:55 pm

    Have you seen his sketches of horses? Beautiful. Mad man. I too haven’t seen the controversial painting! If I see, the view might be different…till now, just heresay and just what the media had been presenting.

    me- Yes, I have. Horses and women are a recurring theme in most of his paintings. Though truth be told I think while some of his sketches are nice but thats all they are. ‘Nice’. There are other far more talented painters out there.
    I would request you to take a look at his paintings. I had never seen some of them before. Vimmuuu has given a link.

    • March 8, 2010 10:35 am

      I had never seen these paintings of Hussain…Let him stay there at Quatar. Just sketches of naked women are ignorable, but he has gone too far.

      Thank you, Indyeah for this post of yours. Thank you, Vimmuuu.
      me- you are most welcome Sandhya

  27. March 5, 2010 10:59 pm

    Vimmu offered one bow… I offer many many more. Loved your post. The sheer inconsistency.. the disparity in meting out justice.. is digusting to say the least. But you know what, Indy, Apart from other things, if one were to legally prosecute Hussain, he/she would be termed a ‘Hindu fanatic’ and India would be branded as dangerous for minorities. Being a rigid Muslim or Christian is admired in this country, but being a vocal Hindu is definitely not. The so-called liberals are fanatic in this one aspect atleast!
    me- Thanks Pal.

    There is no such thing as a vocal Hindu Pal.
    Thats a mythical creature.
    Simply doesn’t exist.
    Either one is a ‘tolerant, passive Hindu’ or a Hindutva (what the hell does the term mean?) fanatic.

    There are no in betweens left for the Hindu by the liberals.

  28. March 5, 2010 11:02 pm

    And this is what I had commented on Quirky’s post.
    ‘I would like to know if Hussain would dare to paint Prophet, Allah, Christ or Mother Mary in the nude?’ If yes, hats off, he is a true artist. If no, then you can obviously see what sort of a cunning, scheming artist he is, who knows where he can take liberty.

    Blame us entirely.. (Roop’s post comes to mind)….India is a secular country…loot us, rape us, kill us.. and if we protest , then feel free to call us the new Taliban. That’s India for you.
    me- The selectiveness does raise certain questions doesn’t it?

    We are darn secular Pal! How dare you suggest otherwise? Let’s go and imbibe some of that famed tolerance why don’t we? Eh?

  29. March 6, 2010 12:26 am

    Indyeah, You’ve said it all! It is the double standards, the hypocrisy that stands out.

    As for his choice of Qatar, I really feel that that is his choice, if he feels safer, and his business interests served better in Qatar, so be it. But the bigger issue for me is how the govt of India handles issues such as this. The minute they manage to get the consistency right. The problem with our liberals is that they are in no way consistent either – the double standards is what I get most irritated by.

    In a TV debate, Congress’ Manish Tiwari said that it cannot be one yardstick – it has to be a case by case decision. Why??? Why should it be different? The double standards – that is what I fail to understand.

    And the way people have tried to say that Hussain’s decision to take up Qatar’s citizenship is a huge shame for India – I just cannot understand that argument. He has been clear that it is a business decision and yet everybody else insists that it is the biggest shame for India.
    me- Yes, hypocrisy is what it is.
    The moment there is a lack of consistency in handling similar issues, people are bound to protest and feel offended.
    arre why should you get offended? We are secular but its the uniquely Indian brand of secularism Smitha. 😉
    Fight for every other community and get accolades but don’t you dare fight for a particular one.

    Oh! btw did I tell you? You can earn the tag of a ‘secular liberal’ too. Diss certain things and support ‘others’. The mantra is quite easy if you think about it.

    In a TV debate, Congress’ Manish Tiwari said that it cannot be one yardstick – it has to be a case by case decision. W

    Translated it means ,”Smitha Ji aapka vote hamein priya hai….par hamein minorities ka vote us se bhi adhik priya hai. ”

    • March 8, 2010 5:26 pm

      ‘Translated it means ,”Smitha Ji aapka vote hamein priya hai….par hamein minorities ka vote us se bhi adhik priya hai. ” ‘ – So true 🙂 Absolutely! And the sad thing is that this does not get dissected in the TV debates at all! The anchors, being ‘secular liberals’, prefer to turn a blind eye!
      me- absolutely!

  30. March 6, 2010 12:53 am

    I must have had a bout of that amnesia when the only name that comes to mind is Alzheimer…(may he rest in peace, …I don’t).
    Actuallty the novel is Fahrenheit 451 and its Ray Bardbury… why would I have said Bradley.
    Sorry; please reburn the correct name & temperature (which actually should not be Fahrenheit….., but I will at least not not burn his book…for this error) in your mind .
    Also would you visit my page again & find my latest post & a project that will I hope be successfull (Inshallah as they would say in Quatar…). Who knows? Its cost is peanuts in Bull run India, but then who will be generous?
    And then there would be this burning question: what do you show? Perhaps my funeral pier will be lighted by discarded paintings… not funny, sorry.

    • March 7, 2010 3:59 pm

      The Ray Bradbury reference was a good one. Ray Bradbury or Bradley the point was understood.:) And understood well.

      Will visit your page. Its been long.:) The last line? You have a way of conveying so much in very few words. Your paintings will be shown. As far as I have been able to understand and knwo you and your thoughts, you are an artist free from politics and issues of religion and what to paint and what not to.

      If the heart is truly artistic and pure and sees beauty in all things irrespective of the affiliations (religious and otherwise) and devoid of any hidden agenda. Then you have my full support. Paint and create without fear. Without pretensions.

      PS:- Also a request. (unable to send the mail for some tech reason.) Can I one day simply make a post of the debate we had?:) Would love to. That is what I call a discussion. Loved it and love it still.

  31. March 6, 2010 1:10 am

    Actually all this hue & cry , this one & future ones, will not be really a problem. Why? Because chinese billionaires will buy up Indian art while it is not costing like the latest Giacometti sold in New York for 75 million dollars. What hurts is that Giacometti was poor.
    And also what is unpleasant is that when one reads about art in Indian media its often mainly about buying and selling: investing. Not about art as an aesthetic thing…

    me- Someone mentioned on Twitter that M. F should start painting hundreds of paintings by the dozen and the value of his paintings hanging in the homes of politicians and others in India will fall drastically. And they will call him back in a jiffy! 😀

    An artist does need to earn too. And earn well at that.
    The stereotypical artist with creativity in his soul and nothing on his plate sounds good only in theory.

    About art as an aesthetic thing. Hmm..
    Have heard about OSIAN and Neville Tully. Are they doing good work?

  32. March 6, 2010 1:13 am

    I am no great fan of M F Hussain (some times I feel I can draw better than him) but the point is not that, the point is that its a shame that an Indian national has to go some where out and settle down for this reason, and its more shameful that we call him back AFTER he has just squatted.
    Mark my word, this is just the beginning, I am sure more will follow.
    me- Welcome here Joe.
    I dont think its a shame Joe. He has cited business (and tax benefits) as the reason behind his move to Qatar. Why then are we still feeling ashamed? He went out of India of his own free will. Kept visiting one country after another because of his commitments related to art and finally decided to settle in Qatar becasue of business reasons. Where is the shame in that for us?

    This calling him back business is mere lip service. Had the government been serious about him and other creative individuals and their freedom of expression, this whole drama would never have taken place.

  33. March 6, 2010 1:19 am

    actually was a sculpture: A life-size bronze sculpture of a man by Alberto Giacometti was sold Wednesday at a London auction for 65 million pounds ($104.3 million) — a world record for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, Sotheby’s auction house said.
    me- 65 million pounds? :O The mind boggles!

  34. March 7, 2010 8:06 am

    This post is on par with Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI 200. It is not about Hussain or Nasreeen or Rushdie – it is about the inconsistent liberal. The word ‘liberal’ is treated as a congenital disease in the US for their tax and spend ways. In India, it is the liberals’ spinelessness on matters like these that will give them similar disrepute.
    me- Thanks Maald.
    I agree. And as QI also says the word liberal has become a dirty one these days. And with good reason too.
    Spineless. Exactly the right word for them.

  35. March 7, 2010 11:09 am

    Hmm. I traced you from one of the forgotten links. It was not that I chanced by it- I was searching for the post where you commented, so that I can come here. See already I am into freedom of expression- the freedom of rambling on 🙂

    I totally agree with your point. And if I meet God, I will beg him to fill me with your talents/flair for writing in next life. But spare a thought for my irksome and non-valid point 😀

    Will you still be same interested in reading the comment through if I were to fill the rest of the page with !@#$%^&*() in the name of freedom?

    There is freedom of everything. Freedom of expression and all! Rules apply only when, the expressions are non-legal. But being in legal boundaries, I can blabber all day long. And if somehow you feel obligated to see through all of my blabber- wont you be questioning the validity of drawing lines in this freedom? You want your space where you can shut down and feel into going into non-replying mood. The non-answering mood?

    I think it would be a fair choice.

    Consider this answer coming from a naive thought 🙂

    P.S. Though I think I can track back to this place again for the gift of words- but then I am so clumsy and filled with forgetful-ness 😀 I would love to see your replies, cutting through this idea. I would 🙂 Mail me(prabhudutta.das[at]gmail[dot]com?

    P.P.S. It already made my day to read you 🙂 Brisk as rain and calm as sea shell- both have infinite potentials to catch imagination 🙂

    P.P.P.S. Did you feel morally obligated to read through the comment? I think you know what I meant?

    • March 7, 2010 4:42 pm

      Welcome back Prabhu. Its been long. I have been off the blogworld since long. And have been posting erratically. Hence missed reading most of your posts I think.

      Rules apply only when, the expressions are non-legal. But being in legal boundaries, I can blabber all day long.
      What’s legal and what’s not? What is the definition? And you might well be within legal limits. But I too have the legal recourse open do I not?
      If I don’t like something you said or did, I simply have to file a case against your ‘art’ or whatever it is that has offended me.

      In a democracy the legal route is the only one . As it well should be.

      Violence is where I have a problem. I cannot threaten you in any manner whatsoever. No matter how much I might hate your ‘art’. Violence is simply unacceptable.

      And if somehow you feel obligated to see through all of my blabber- wont you be questioning the validity of drawing lines in this freedom?

      But that’s the whole point Prabhu.
      Your definiton of what constitutes freedom might differ from mine. Infact it will.

      There is no definition of freedom of expression per se.

      I will file a case against you or your art or whatever it is (as mentioned above) and leave it to the courts to decide.
      If the judgment is in my favor or yours…both of us have the option of going to the higher courts.

      It is a pleasure reading all the comments. So it is with yours.:)

      I would love to see your replies, cutting through this idea. I would

      I couldn’t understand this sentence. My replies are right here:)
      If incase you are talking of discussing this further then my email id is indyeahforever(at)gmail(dot)com

      In case you are talking of subscribing to the comments then that option is given too.

      Thank you for the generous words.

      PS:- Here is another blogger. Some of your thoughts remind me of him:)
      Do visit him.

  36. March 7, 2010 4:22 pm

    Here is an initiative by Ves and other like minded souls called the ‘Kochi Art and Science Space’ (KASS)

    If any of you would like to know more or help in any way then please head here.

    Keep an eye on Ves’s space.

  37. March 7, 2010 5:50 pm

    I remember the earlier post on Freedom that you had done, as an extended version of the debate on Nimmy’s space. Gosh! That somehow seems like aeons ago, suddenly!

    But the notions are still so darned relevant, and nothing seems to have changed! There was a time when I did sympathise with MFH, but reading from that interview w Ms B Dutt, and then the latest one, has somehow opened a divide of sorts in the perceptions I had! I mean, what the darned heck is all of that about?
    Freedom? Creativity? Or just commercial business, common sense? Then why go into all those accusations, and blame games!!!

    Gets one’s goat he does… that man wit the goatee!!! Well… that is the limited perception, for now 🙂

    Good to be here, once again Meggie 🙂
    me- Yes, that does seem like ages ago na? I miss those days Ushus..:(
    you said it Ushus! just plain commercial business sense!
    Gets one’s goat he does… that man wit the goatee
    yes, he does doesnt he? 🙂
    ah! your perception is anything but limited Ushus….if anything it always is bang on in all that you express..
    sorry for such a long delay in replying should have seen my grin when I first saw your comment here though..
    it is so good to see you back …you wouldn’t believe how good!! (((hugs)))

  38. March 8, 2010 1:03 pm

    A perfect example of Freedom of Expression :

    ” It brings back to my mind an episode that happened to The Hindu some years ago. You had a separate weekly page for children with cartoons, quizzes, and with poems and articles of school children. In one such weekly page The Hindu printed a venerable bearded man-fully robed with head dress, mouthing some passages of the Koran-trying to teach children .It was done not only in good faith but as a part of inculcating values to children from the Koran. All hell broke loose. Your office witnessed goons who rushed in-demanded an apology-held out threats. In Ambur,Vaniambadi and Vellore the papers stands were burned-the copies of The Hindu were consigned to the fire. A threat to raise the issue in Parliament through a Private Members Bill was held out-Hectic activities went on-I am not sure of the nature and the machinations behind the scene. But The Hindu next day brought out a public apology in its front page. ”

    The source ->
    me- Thanks for sharing the link Kislay. Read it in the mail you sent…the letter is garnering a lot of attention. Will the hon’ble editor reply?

  39. March 9, 2010 5:40 pm

    I read this post yesterday and I had a few thoughts and then I saw the pictures in the link provided by Vimmuu and all the thoughts I had disappeared. Coz. I think, there is no issue of FoS here at all…

    I can’t understand why, the paintings were not banned straightaway – No, I don’t say this because I’m a hindu (as you know, I’m not religious at all) but the pictures are plain Obscene. Even if somebody doesn’t know what they depict (and I’m sure if MF Hussain didn’t tell us, we wouldn’t know that he’s drawn Ram & Sita) , the pictures are plain obscene, let alone hurting religious or nationlist sentiments.

    Secondly, his move to Qatar is clearly a tax saving measure which he admits in his interview, though after a flip flop but in that case, all controversy about him being sent out of India should just stop.

    And thirdly, yes, there is definitely a difference when it comes to how much insult each religion can take but I think that is not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone knows that if a word is uttered against Islam, all hell breaks loose but you can say anything against Hinduism and get away with it. People think Hindus are being cowards or Hindus are just being pseudo secular by doing that. But consider this, Would you rather have people reacting as violently in favor of Hinduism as well. I think, Thank God, we are better than that. I think Hinduism worldwide is not an as hated religion in Non-Hindus as Islam is in Non-Muslims. And that is a good thing. Why do we want to ape them and turn violent against Hindu defamation when we have seen first hand of how such a religion is perceived worldwide. Just consider, do we need another radical religion on the world?

    I personally think that yes, consistency is a must so it wouldn’t be acceptable for a news channel to be silent on Taslima Nasreen but speak in favor of MF Hussain but still, it might just be a good thing that in our country these liberals far outnumber the radicals.

    • March 12, 2010 6:28 pm

      I trually agree to Rakesh…
      Actually hinduism is all about getting along with everyone….in actual “Sanatan”
      Our tolerence is the strength and probably need of the hour or need of everytime…

      and correct if MFH wont let us know whom he had depicted in the painting who would understand…

      Somewhere I read in blogs it self new advertising policy is controversy….

      FOS and FOE are all secondary…

    • March 23, 2010 7:55 pm

      Completely get what you are saying Rakesh. Like we had discussed long back on that post of mine(Balm for the soul) we haven’t exactly had a religious upbringing nor do I feel very religious even now.
      That apart, the way I see it, M.F Hussain could have drawn whatever he wanted to(as he indeed has) ..he wants to draw a couple having sex/making love? men/ women/ animals? He very well can! After that its the call of the government to ban or not ban it..

      But to draw an act of bestiality and name it as he has?

      Thats an act deliberately intended to provoke and provoke how!
      The man is a publicity hungry soul who gets his share of fame in this manner…and fools that we are we give it to him on a platter!
      I would like to answer anyone who tries to say that M.F Hussain is simply an innocent painter, a creative genius only seeking an outlet for his ‘creativity’.

      Yes! the controversy should definitely stop. And I think going by the strong sentiments of many like us it has forced the pseudo secular brigade to stop . At least for the time being.

      I agree. Violence can never be the answer. As I have written in the replies to the comments above. Violence is unacceptable. The legal route is the only route in a democracy.

      The point however is simply this.
      Is it okay to get away with provoking a certain ‘more tolerant religion’ time and time again as compared to others?

      It simply means that in a democracy which proclaims itself as secular in every way it not pseudo secularism when this happens?This farce?
      In this democracy when a hushed silence descends when other more ‘sensitive’ religions are being talked about and yet one religion is considered free for all.

      I love the way Hinduism is as a religion… the way it has no fixed set of rituals to follow, nor any one central authority which decides as to what constitutes a ‘good’ Hindu and what doesn’t.

      You are right. We definitely don’t need another radical religion in the world which already has been bloodied by many.

      Just one question.

      How long before this ‘tolerant and peaceful’ religion and its followers too start feeling discriminated against? Picked on for no reason at all other than the fact that they are more tolerant?And therefore seem to be welcoming all sorts of insults and provocation?

      Are we waiting for such a day when we are letting this ‘secular’ farce continue in the name of ‘tolerance’?
      Already there are many who feel that they are being given a raw deal just because they happen to be from a ‘majority’, a ‘tolerant majority at that.

      it might just be a good thing that in our country these liberals far outnumber the radicals.
      I agree. I just hope that we always remain like this.

  40. March 9, 2010 6:28 pm

    Indyeah I find that I agree to every point that you make. I believe in freedom of expression within restraints. Creative freedom is all good.. but sensationalism is not. I find our media has no limits no ethics at alll… have u watched Rann? It raises a pertinent question about media..

    I wonder if hussain’s controvertial paintings didnt get the cverage it did.. would his leaving India be such a big concern?
    me- You said it all Winnie! Freedom comes with responsibility.Isn’t that what we teach our kids? Then how come we forget about it ourselves?makes me wonder. It does.
    creativity or sensationalism indeed!
    Yes! I saw Rann and I liked the story or atleast what they were trying to portray…..

    ah!but Hussain has ensured his name would be etched in the Indian Art Hiostory for reasons other than art….and how he has ensured it …anyone can see…

  41. March 10, 2010 2:48 pm

    Very conclusive
    me-Welcome here Prasad.

  42. March 10, 2010 6:48 pm

    where did my comment go??
    me- its right up there:)

  43. March 12, 2010 11:28 am

    Excellent post..first time visitor here ! Hussain’s interview on NDTV was really eyeopener..i think creativity comes with freedom..and we should not snatch the freedom from creative people..
    me- welcome here Maverickshree..
    I am not in favour of snatching anyone’s freedom…just three words..’Freedom with responsibility.’
    And artists are no different that they should be exempt.

  44. March 12, 2010 6:29 pm

    hats off Indyeah….
    Brillantly put….and balanced too 🙂

  45. March 13, 2010 1:22 pm

    Am back home and hopefully back to active blogging. Read your post with great interest.I am all for freedom of expression Indyeah…but the responsibility of every expression lies with the one who makes it.One cannot think of oneself alone when expressing with words, pen or brush..The freedom to express ceases to exist when it offends someone…one has to show some sensitivity in ones expression..MFH should know that…Qatar or India, the sensitivity has to be maintained….As for MFH…..guess his freedom of expression and the ban of it..only added to his fortunes…we shall discover how freely he expresses himself where he is….A very thought provoking post Indyeah as always.
    me-welcome back Poonam. Its good to see you:)

    .but the responsibility of every expression lies with the one who makes itI so hear you!
    sensitivity.Thats the key to it all isnt it? And one that has to be kept in mind by each individual.
    MF Hussain is riding piggyback on the controversy and laughing all the way to the bank I dare say.

  46. March 20, 2010 1:47 am

    I believe my right of freedom of expression ends where your begins if you get my drift 🙂
    me- Yes, indeed. I completely get the drift:)

  47. March 26, 2010 1:19 am

    Grandma… how are you?????

    Sorry grandma for the real late commenting and I have read only half the post until now.. will read the rest tomo and will put my views 🙂 🙂
    me- I am doin fine Grandkid:) tk your time

  48. March 26, 2010 1:19 am

    And yeah… congrats on the blog adda pick 🙂 🙂
    me-thanks Kanagu:)

  49. March 30, 2010 12:58 pm

    Congratulations on Blogadda pick and thank you for visiting my blog. I believe in freedom of expression and also feel that creativity in any form should not be a victim of so called morals, social values, it should not be chained in any way . A fantastic read and a well deserved pick.
    Best wishes.
    me- Thanks Tikuli.

  50. March 30, 2010 1:58 pm

    u have taken away my freedom of expression by turning off the comments on the book post, Ms. Indy. i object!
    me- 😀 Thats coz just wanted to share about the book…there wasnt much to discuss.
    Though have made a separate page for discussing books/movies or anything random:)

  51. March 30, 2010 9:38 pm

    the post was very interesting and the exchange of comments were even better.

  52. May 30, 2010 8:32 pm

    I keep visiting this post alteast once a week..I don’t know why..

    why have you turned off comments for latest post?

    How you doing buddy..

    Take care..keep in touch ((hugs))
    me- ((hugs))Nimmy:)
    I turned off comments coz the topic had been done to death in real life so simply wanted to jot down my thoughts here.


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