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Friday, January 13, 2006

On The Bannedwagon

James Laine's controversial The Epic of Shivaji, a translation of the Sivabharata (with the aid of S.S. Bahulkar) was actually published in 2001 -- two years before his Shivaji: Hindu King In Islamic India
(which was banned by the state in 2004). In proscribing this earlier book now, the Maharashtra government said that it "could threaten law and order and overall stability in the society". (Considering that no tremors rocked the state in the four years that the book was available, one can only guess at their motives.)

In a recent conversation with Mid-day's Deepak Lokhande, Laine said:

“I am beginning to wonder whether your people want to participate in a scholarly debate. It happens in the rest of the world. My book was for scholars — I am not a popular author who writes for masses. I don’t understand why so much attention is being given to some lines here and there....The Indian government and the Indian people have the right to decide what book they want to read...A few lines picked from the introduction have been used for banning the book. It’s sad it is being stalled and it’s a pity that Indian intellectuals are not raising their voice against it."

In the Hindustan Times, Laine commented: "Some time ago, the publishers said that there were people offended by the use of the word ‘Oedipal.’ I told them I had no objection to the use of another word. I have had no contact with the government."

Well, what does it matter as long as we get a Shivaji memorial rising from the sea? Oh, hold on, there's someone else protesting.

(The Literary Saloon's earlier post here, and current one here.)


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