Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why the Maoists want Arundhati Roy

Indian militant groups are adopting celebrities to push their cause in civil society, bypassing dialogue with the state

Manifesting different aspects of the divine essence, Indian gods and goddesses are often portrayed seated upon or beside the animals deemed to be their particular "vehicles". The elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, for example, has a rat as his vehicle, as if to demonstrate in a manner both quotidian and profound that the least of creatures might bear the greatest of truths. On the plane of India's politics, however, where truths and untruths both require vehicles, celebrities have come to serve as the beasts of choice for groups seeking to publicise their causes.

Such figures sometimes make unwilling vehicles, as the recent cases of MF Hussain and Taslima Nasreen illustrate. The first, an eminent artist living in exile after threats from Hindu militants objecting to his "pornographic" depictions of a goddess, has just accepted Qatari citizenship. The second, a Bangladeshi writer who went into exile after threats from Muslim militants objecting to her portrayal of Islam, has been accused of writing an article against veiling that provoked violence in the Indian state of Karnataka.

Full report here Guardian

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