With the media activism, also came the practice of banning books on one pretext or another. I’m not saying we didn’t ban books before. But ever since, media has shown their more than normal inclination to cover such book protests, trend has picked up exponentially.
Latest instance, is about the book Rani by jayshree mishra. This book contains some excerpts that a particular section of people in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh thinks, are derogatory to Laxmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi, during the revolt of 1857. So they want it to banned in Uttar Pradesh. Now some political groups are also demanding the book to be banned in entire India. According to latest news, Uttar Pradesh has already banned the book in the state.
The work by the author is different from the conventional History writing. It’s from another genre of history writing, called popular history or historical fiction, which is more popular in Europe and other Western countries.As the name suggests,these works are part history and part fiction. But it should not be believed, that the fictional part is made up by the author.It is developed from the inferences derived from the documented facts (such as science students do in Chemistry, if pungent smell comes, they say ammonia is released). Or the world says, if one sees a smoke, fire is also there.So if Maj. Robert Ellis, helped Laxmi Bai in her hard times, then she would definitly have a special feeling for him.The feeling can be brotherly or something else.There can be many possibilities. And it is up to an individual to decide,which possibility he or she thinks existed in that situation. The author has penned down one such possibility.
So if the author has clearly mentioned in the beginning of the book: What constitutes documented and what fiction, I think she should not be blamed.
2) Those who are protesting against the book, are most often those, who never bother to read the books. Research proves this.
3) Such activities, thus are an encroachment on the rights of those, who love books.
On probing what exactly irked some people in India and whether the book is available in India or not, I found this article that featured in Tribune.The article says the intimate details of the marital life of Laxmi bai and her fictionalized romance with a British officer are making some sections uncomfortable. The book brought out by Penguin Books, India, is available in paperback edition from December 2007.The article is written from a political standpoint,so scanning academic information will not take much time.
Some very valid questions are raised by senior journalist Vir Sanghvi. The article which appeared in Sunday Hindustan Times under ‘Counter Point’, makes a good reading. It begins with the rationale behind the mobs, or in a more civilized manner power groups, staging protests on every new book launch and new period movie release. Then it realms into the genre of Historical fiction. And ends with what questions one should ask and raise when one finds oneself in a predicament.
Any way. Reading books is more important.