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Monday, January 30, 2006


How does this work exactly ? Who gets to determine and lord over what an individual of a nation gets to say, and what he/she does not ? And what if the content of statements made run against the grain of popular opinion, couched in fact as they may be ? And the standards of media being what they are….

One of my “discovered” authors, Orhan Pamuk got a fortuitous reprieve recently. For those who came in late, Pamuk is a Turkish writer of growing popularity living in Istanbul and has written on the unsettling conflict between behaviours and mores borne out of intrinsic Turkish ( read mostly Islamic ) origin and of European ( not necessarily Christian ) descent. His forte is a tapestry of richly hued characters and a rootedness of locale, a belonging of place.

Now sometime in last February, Pamuk granted an interview to a Swiss ( that most insipid and uninspiring of nations ) magazine that spoke of his condemnation of the genocide of Kurdish and Armenian hordes ( some thirteen lakhs of innocent civilians) by the Turks during the First World War. Expectedly, he was pulled over for “insulting Turkish identity and national pride” and subjected to widespread vilification and hatred, some of his detractors being fellow writers. And this week, since the law cited was itself retrospective, he was let off on a judicial technicality to a collective sigh of relief. The criminal charges have been dismissed, although the rather tenuous charge of insulting national pride remains a lurking shadow. And the entire matter has been conveniently jettisoned by a glazed media, wholly preferring a trial and prosecution it seems.

So returning to the question—how different is it in India ? We have as many histories as historians and with a mild twisting of “facts’”, a contorted apparition of history can be , and perhaps, has been arrived at. I find that while most of them have in their basis in religion, or customs/tradition, there are many logical fallacies which are glossed over unrepentantly. Or does national pride blind one to truth, achingly fragile as it may be ? Or does one live and let live, secure in the comfortable warmth that ignorance or indifference offers….



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