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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Monday, May 14, 2007

Peter informs the Blogger's Collective about a series of protests against the arrest of an art student and suspension of the dean of MS University all over the country.  Here are details on the incident. 

By now, you would have read, heard or seen the news of the arrest of a student, Chandra Mohan, and the suspension of the dean of Maharaja Sayajirao University's Fine Arts faculty in Baroda, Prof. Shivaji Panikker. (For those who haven't, please catch up through the press links below.)

A simultaneous all-India public protest will take place on 14th May, at 6 p.m.  The Mumbai protest wil be in front of Jehangir Art Gallery. Those attending are requested to wear black and/or white.

Protests in other cities:

Date and time for all: 14th May, 6p.m .
New Delhi - Rabindra Bhavan
Mumbai - Jehangir Gallery
Vishakapatnam - Faculty of Fine Arts, Andhra University
Cochin - Kashi Art CafÈ
Hyderabad - Fine Arts, S N School, University of Hyderabad
Bangalore - M G Road, opposite Gandhi statue
Santiniketan - Kala Bhavan
Guwahati - Press Club

Unfortunately, I'm in groups at that same time so won't be able to attend, but I urge those of you who are appalled at the incident to go there and lend your voice.  Even if you aren't technically an 'artist'.  This is yet another form of suppressing our freedom of expression, it is an assault on our creativity, another crude and vicious attempt at politics taking over our educational system - and we should fight against it. Am sick of all this moral policing - putting an art student in jail, charging him with non-bailable offenses - come on, we're going backwards here. Who decides what crosses the boundaries of "outrage" in all these moral policing cases like what happened recently with Orkut and blogs?  Why are those that attack an institute free? Do we take it all quietly?  And its so ironic really, when so many of our ancient temples, manuscripts, sculptures and paintings depict erotica  so overtly - even in the context of Hindu Gods and Goddesses which I have seen. 

I like Ranjit Hoskote's perspective on this:

"It appears that the champions of a resurgent Hindu identity are acutely embarrassed by the presence of the erotic at the centre of Hindu sacred art. As they may well be, for the roots of Hindutva do not lie in Hinduism. Rather, they lie in a crude mixture of German romanticism, Victorian puritanism and Nazi methodology.

What happens next? Will the champions of Hindutva go around the country destroying temple murals, breaking down monuments, and burning manuscripts and folios?"

For those who aren't aware of the incident, Amit, who believes
"isnít a Hindu then entitled to say that his religious feelings are offended by Hindutva? Huh? points to many resources on this matter in a blog post so aptly titled Fascism in Baroda:

"The matter is being followed at Art Concerns, who have a detailed chronology of events up here. Do also read what Ranjit Hoskote, Gulammohammed Sheikh and Johny ML have to say, as well as this piece by Abhijeet Tamhane. Peter Griffin has more links here, as well as details of a public protest I intend to be part of in Mumbai."

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