“I know it has been a long gap. Too long if you ask me.”
The minister was speaking at a function organised to mark the banning of a book for “denigrating Hindu traditions”.
“Look, we cannot change the past. If the previous governments did not find any books to ban for hurting religious or other sentiments, there isn’t much we can do. They may have been distracted by trying to address issues affecting the common man, but not us. As long as we are in power, I assure you we will continue to ban books and other artistic expressions, whether denigrating tradition or not, whether hurting religious sentiment or not.”
He waited for the thunderous applause to subside, and continued, “As you probably know, just three months back a Hindi film has been banned as it hurt the sentiments of Hindus not only by its name but even through other things portrayed in the film. Let the message be clear. We are not partial to any particular artistic or creative medium. Whatever medium you choose to express yourself in, we will be waiting.”
“If memory serves me right, the last such occasion of banning a book would have been that of Salman Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’. More than twenty years back. Almost an entire generation has been deprived of the benefits of banning a book for denigrating tradition and sentiment. How can we ever recover these lost years of our youth?”
Pausing to take a sip from a glass, he continued, a little softly, “This is a glowing example of the democratic and secular fabric of our nation. Which nation, tell me which nation, can claim to have banned a book for hurting Muslim sentiment and then banned another book for hurting Hindu sentiment?”
People in the audience looked here and there. They could not, but, agree.
“Now what, you may well ask?”, he looked into their eyes as he spoke. People in the front rows averted his gaze. His eyes were burning with a missionary zeal.
“Well, for a start, we have several volunteer groups actively searching for hurt to religious sentiments of Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists. We don’t want the feelings of followers of these religions to be hurt because there was no book hurting their religious sentiments. And, each of these volunteer groups is even more unknown than the ones who initiated proceedings for banning this book.”
“If need be, we will start more religions so that we can protect their sentiments and traditions. I know I can count on your support for this initiative, my dear countrymen. After all, we need to protect our rich culture and tradition. A culture so rich that it gets threatened when an individual publishes her personal views and interpretations in a book.”
Now who can argue with that?