Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'To prevent expression is worst for our own evolution.'

Giving a balanced point of view On the controversy relating to painter M. F. Husain , a recent column by the Chairman of Ambuja Cement Foundation, Suresh Neotia, also provides a historical context to it. He notes whether Husain really wished to hurt the sentiments of any Hindu by painting the canvases that caused such furore, and adds: “One may admit that he as an artist has to express himself, but possibly overstepped not as a Muslim but as an artist who failed in his perception of being sensitive to Hindu ideals.”

Pointing out that it was Husain who had painted several canvases on Mahabharata and Ramayana on Ram Manohar Lohia’s request, the writer rues the fact that on issues of faith, there’s no logic in India. Possibly, even if one happens to ruffles the faith inadvertently, strong reactions manifest. He states,
"Over centuries India has absorbed people from distant lands and of different beliefs. We have enshrined the word ‘secular’ in our Constitution. It’s the lack of education and misguidance by some self-styled leaders, which lead to violent reactions. Every citizen in a free country has the right to express view. As long as it’s not directly insulting, it should be interpreted as expression of a different viewpoint.”
Putting things in a historical perspective, the columnist mentions of a ban in early years of Islam on painting human figures. It was only after the Islamic invasion in India that the synthesis in the two cultures led to paintings of human figures by popular Muslim artists. He opines that Hindu will remain Hindu and so also Muslim should be allowed to remain Muslim. Also at the same time, one should have ‘reasonable’ freedom when it comes to interpreting the faith unless it’s attacked with malicious intent. Obviously Husain never harbored any such motive.

The writer concludes that it’s better to let these things pass but to prevent expression is the worst thing we can do to our own evolution. Those who have their own conviction will continue to hold them and somebody else’s opinion would not matter, he sums up.

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