The freedom of speech and of expression is given to all in India but sometimes with the view of maintaining harmony within communities and religious groups some content is kept away from the public. Some say that it is better to prevent any information that threatens the unity of the country from getting out into the public domain, while others argue that an author should have the freedom to express his view and opinions.
A ban which most people are familiar with is that on Salman Rushdie’s book – The Satanic Verses. Muslims all over the world opposed the book and imposed a fatwa on the author accusing him of demeaning their religion. The controversies around the book and the anger of the Muslim community forced the author to go into hiding for over a decade. It was India who first banned the book to prevent public outcry.
Another such book written by the famous Pulitzer Prize winning author Joseph Lelyveld is The Great Soul which is a biography inspired by the life of Gandhi. The ban was first enforced in Gujarat, being the hometown of Gandhi after the Wall Street Journal and the British media published reviews that the book described Gandhi’s sexual life and also some of his racist views. Nine Hours to Rama is yet another book based on the life of Gandhi. This book was written by a professor and historian at the University of California named Wolpert. It was banned because of the way in which it described Gandhiji’s assassination which exposed the incompetence of the security cover provided to him and also hinted towards a conspiracy.
Revolving around accounts of Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s role in India’s partition in 1947, the book titled Jinnah: India Partition Independence by Jaswant Singh was also banned. The book caused Jaswant Singh to be expelled from the BJP party as the book went against the common portrayal of Jinnah which wasn’t acceptable by many. The ban on the book for later revoked and you can now get your hands on it.
A story revolving around the rich and famous Ambani, titled The Polyester Prince, written by Hamish McDonald an Australian journalist is also not available in India as some feared that the millionaire would sue as the book describes how many rules were averted in order for him to succeed. Ambani and Sons is another version of the book which has been made available to the public.
While these are just few of the books, you are told not to read, curiosity is sure to get the best of you, isn’t it? Sometimes censorship affects the works of many world renowned authors which is a loss to booklovers everywhere. Their books have been banned because their content might anger a certain section of people. However can banning a book ever stop people from getting their hands on it. Where there is a will there is a way and people always find a way. Most of the books that have been banned are freely available on the internet and are in easy reach of the public.