ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Art in the Time of Cholera

There is no end to the variety of vulnerable sentiments that our politicians and administrators suffer from - religious, cultural, national, regional, etc, etc. At the slightest scratch on any of them, the government clamps down a ban on, or tries by other means to stifle, works of literature and art that touch upon these sacrosanct subjects.

The epidemic is spreading. While the dust over the assault on Hussain’s painting of a nude Saraswati is yet to settle, the choleric rulers of the Indian state have struck yet another blow. This time it is in the name of nationalism, and the victim is a young Baroda-based painter, whose painting was pulled out from an exhibition by the director of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi. His fault: he had painted a nude Icarus perched on top of the Asoka pillar!

One wonders how the Department of Culture – which ordered the removal of the painting on the ground that it denigrated the national emblem – would have reacted if the painter put Rama instead of Icarus on the Asoka pillar. The painter apparently compounded his fault by adding a nude figure to the pillar, and that also of a Greek mythological character! It is this that has hurt the sentiments of the government this time. There is no end to the variety of vulnerable sentiments that our politicians and administrators suffer from – religious, cultural, national, regional, etc, etc. At the slightest scratch on any of them, the government clamps down a ban on, or tries by other means to stifle, works of literature and art that touch upon these sacrosanct subjects. The way things are moving in India, writers and artists may soon be left with few options in their choice of themes.

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