March 19, 2008

Beware My Captain

Taslima Nasreen has left India — or more precisely, has been forced out. She is said to be somewhere in Europe, her location kept secret for obvious reasons. To me personally it was never a question of if, but when she would leave this state that has failed miserably in everything that it professes to uphold — democracy, secularism, and freedom of expression. A self-serving, weak-kneed government, has allowed itself to be browbeaten by a handful of fundamentalist thugs, who have chalked up an amazing victory over intellectuals, judges, writers, and concerned citizens from every sphere of life.

A chapter in Ms. Nasreen's life has ended. Another chapter in India's history has begun, which I am afraid, will be a tragic one, unless the script is changed miraculously somehow. Time to pay heed to the words of Kazi Nazrul Islam written at a different time, on a different crisis in the subcontinent:

The boat is trembling,
The water is swelling,
The sail is torn asunder,
And the boatman is losing his way,
Who will sit at the helm at this hour?
Who has the courage and the power?
The future calls you,
Come forward, all who are bold and true.

— Kazi Nazrul Islam, Beware My Captain. In Bengali : Kandari hushiar, Translation: Kabir Chowdhury
4 comments :
  1. I was hoping you would blog on this...
    All that you have said, and left unsaid, is absolutely spot on and regrettable. Shameful, actually.
    "Where the mind is without fear" is certainly in not India or anywhere in Asia, for that matter.

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  2. I thought the poetic verse was brilliant. Forget about anybody standing up for this country. We don't have the conscience to stand up for a tiny nation like Tibet, all cause we wanna suck up to China, standing up for a Muslim female writer is out of the qs.

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  3. rambodoc:
    I am glad that I have turned your hope into reality :)

    On a hopeless note, "Where the mind is without fear" is fast becoming an endangered ecosystem. An "oil slick" that traps and strangulates minds, seems to be spreading rapidly in its place :(

    rohmen:
    Thanks, the credit goes to Kazi Nazrul Islam.

    Why stand up only for Tibet? Why not for everyone whose rights are trampled upon by the communist despots in Beijing? Do you have any reason to believe that the Chinese have any more rights than the Tibetans?

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  4. It's so good to read someone supporting Tasleema Nasreen! I totally agree with everything you've written. When I read an article in 'The Times of India', by Shobha De, lambasting Taslima Nasreen I thought everybody had gone mad. It's really, really sad that we could not stand up for her. Ditto for Tibet.

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