By Ankit Chandra
In the news today, among other more immediately critical things, is this news about a paintings exhibition in Bangalore (http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/in-bangalore-moral-policing-means-three-paintings-face-the-wall-326900?pfrom=home-otherstories).
What’s the big deal about a paintings exhibition? Isn’t it just about some people only putting their expressions on to some canvas? who has time for that right? To be quite honest, I think it would be a big deal when a painting exhibition was actually not a big deal. Sadly, we are not there yet.
So what happened was that in this paintings exhibition, there were some paintings showing a few Hindu Goddesses in the nude. A local BJP ‘leader’ walks in and sees these paintings and flips out. He ensures that those paintings be put inside out, so that no one can see them. He said “I have reported to chief coordinator of Chitrakala Parishat saying you people should not show like this, Hindu gods and all. We have our own belief, we have our own culture…”
When I read this, I had a mixture of feelings inside me. Besides the obvious questions like ‘who the hell is he to be the representative of Hinduism’ (I am sure Lord Ram didn’t send him an appointment letter, because I think God likes me more than this BJP leader), I was more anxious because I see a special type of slow rape and murder happening here. That of freedom. Not only of speech, but to exist freely. Given that this rape of freedom a slow process, I am sure the government wouldn’t care to fix this, as this doesn’t affect the elections in 2014, or the local Karanataka elections, whenever they are held.
This is an urgent problem. Not only in Karnataka, but in Tamil Nadu with Viswaroopam, or with the late M.F. Hussain, or with the painters in Ahmedabad whose exhibition was vandalized, or with Deepa Mehta for making Water. The list goes on. And this list scratches our faces with its iron finger nails telling us that you must live in servitude of those who can walk over you whenever they feel like.
Anyway, back to the news. The father of the painter issued a statement: “There is absolutely nothing objectionable in his paintings. If that is so, then all temples should be destroyed.” After reading this statement, I had another mixture of feelings ride inside me. One of which was that of desperation. You see, in the older times people seemed to have more freedom of expression. They ‘could’ sculpt Hindu Goddesses in the nude. And those sculptures were integrated into temples. In 2013, we have regressed to a time even before them. Maybe stone ages where the whims of a petty local politician were taken to be a decree more critical than the dreams of Rabindranath Tagore.
Of course we could not have one more than one Nobel in literature. For that, we’d need to coexist in this century first…
- Statue Of Hindu Goddess Saraswati Near White House (albanytribune.com)
- Govt. control of Hindu temples questioned (thehindu.com)