Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A question of dignity

“Bharat Mata-an art of work: SC” screamed today’s The Times of India. A Supreme Court bench yesterday refused to entertain a petition in which the petitioners had pleaded the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings against M F Hussain for depicting a nude woman as Mother India.

Supporters of the artist have time and again evoked the freedom available under the right of freedom of expression as enshrined under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution to justify the works of Hussain. Is this the purpose of right to freedom of expression? To offer immunity to work of art that shows a woman who is in nude as Mother India? If yes, then for me this is nothing but a gross violation of the reasons for which the above said article was added into the constitution.

MF Hussain while commenting on the Supreme Court judgment applauded the decision and said ‘At last they (Supreme Court) have understood the ‘dignity’ of contemporary Indian art. Dignity? Whose dignity? Does the dignity of Indian art is upheld by depicting India in nudes? I don’t know how many of us would like to practice this definition of dignity as stated by the artist in our personal life. Will the artist himself practice what he preaches? I doubt it.

Imagine a scenario where an artist from European country paints a picture in which he depicts Indian without clothes and in tatters. How would we react? More specifically how would the ‘liberal intelligentsia’ which till date have not condemned Hussian’s work of art, react?

Nationalism, love for ones country, is not defined anywhere nor can it be forced on anyone. But I am sure that the definition doesn’t say that not getting offended by paintings that depicts the nation in nude is one of the essences of showing respect towards your motherland. Have I stated something that is too lowly or rural for the ‘intellectuals’ to understand?

Ancient temples that have been for long used to justify any work of offensive art have been reduced to just mere examples. The sculptures of nude king and queens are frequently equated with religious sculptures. How much is this justified is a question that needs to be dwelt on much.

Earlier the same artist had depicted Hindu goddess in forms that are undignified by even the farthest stretch of imagination.

Those who raised their voice against it were called ‘Right wing individuals’. Agreed that the violent way in which they protested was condemnable but what about the work of Hussain that incited the reaction? Is that not condemnable? The price of being the majority population cannot be so much.

If the same artist had painted religious pictures of other religion, he would have been running from one county to another for asylum, but for Hinduism. For Hinduism embraces everyone and ‘everything’ with open arms. Some section of the ‘learned’ feel that it’s imperative for this religion to not be offended and to smilingly embrace the dignity stated by Hussain. Is the Hindu god-goddess and mother India ‘children of the lesser gods’?

The more I force myself for searching reasons to look at Hussian’s work rationally, the more I feel that our Constitution has been taken for a ride. The fact that the Constitution also prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion has been conveniently forgotten.

Majority, like the minority, too value their religion. Just being numerically strong doesn’t mean that a particular religion cannot get offended by offensive things. We cannot have a double standard for deciding the dignity of the majority and the minority.

Where are the classes of the intellectuals that throng the street on the slightest pretext? Do they only represent those who are less in number? What about those who are humiliated because they are more? Who will speak for them? Artist like Hussain or the activists like Babu Bajrangis? Both of them are the extremes and sadly the middle path has been hijacked by the ‘Liberal –intelligent-class’, who not only believe but also practice double standards.

The time has come to follow secularism not just in the minority spirit but also in a spirit that was the force behind drafting the word 'secular' in our constitution.

A nation of hypocrites we are speaking only when the situation is favorable, let’s stop our tread for a minute and question ourselves. Questions which are not that hard to answer.

1 comment:

rahul said...

catching the frequency..
Abhinandan..its been long time i was looking for the person who can think that way..it was like reading my own thoughts. very truely , the so called literate & secular class with their unique double standards has increased the divide more. people like bajrang dal with their stupid & mindless inhumane reactions put shed on the actual concerns and thus we start behaving like giraffe who simply think dat he is hedden while hiding his head only...the day is not far when we actually have "reservation quota" for dignity too.


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