Where The Mind Is Without Fear…

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Activism, Letter, Literature, Media, Musings, Poetry, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

I felt relieved somewhere in the corner of my heart, as I felt sad. “The book is not available Sir,” the book shop owner had said. From the moment I read the review of the book in Tehelka I wanted to buy the book. I was eager to read the book. It is this eagerness that had taken me to the book shop of the publishers who had published the particular book. This eagerness was disappointed, yes. But still a part in me felt relieved. Yes, somewhere in the corner of my heart I felt relieved.

What happened between my reading of the review and me not finding the book in the book shop is the reason for the weird relief. From the past couple of days newspapers have been reporting about Dr. Sunil Mandiwal a professor in Delhi University who was arrested by the Delhi police for the alleged connection with the Maoists. When the Maoist leader Krishna Rao has denied that he knows not Dr Mandiwal the interrogation of Dr. Mandiwal continues. The “proof” for the Maoist connection of Dr. Mandiwal, now for the police, is the numerous books that he possessed with Marxist leanings.

Dr. Mandiwal is a popular social and cultural activist and has been active in pro-people politics from his student days. For the state it is a strategy to send a signal to all left leaning intellectuals that their leanings will not be tolerated by the state and steps will be taken to silence them. And it is also an attempt to criminalize intellectuals.

Is it a crime to have political leanings? Is it a crime to possess books with a certain political ideology, which the state cannot tolerate? Or books which questions the status-quo? The state is unleashing terror on minds that think- Minds that think unlike its servants, minds that challenge it, minds that question it. Alternative thinking, parallel thinking is not tolerated and such thinking is criminalized and stigmatized. Forget holding alternative thinking, even possessing literature of alternative thinking is also criminalized.

In such a state of affairs it is but natural that somewhere deep down inside me I felt relieved when I did not find the book Captive Imagination by the prominent Telugu writer and the spokesperson of Communist Party of India (Maoist), Varavara Rao. When I wanted to read the prison writings of one of the finest writers of our times, somewhere a fear had gripped a portion of my heart because of the arrest of Dr. Mandiwal. Though not a public figure and intellect of his (Dr. Mandiwal) stature, fear did grip me somewhere. I think that is an indicator of the success of state, in a way. I felt relieved that my library is saved of one (more) book of left leaning thoughts and idea, which could very well work against me anytime the state, wants.

With some relief and some disappointment I started looking at the other books displayed in the shop. A book titled Man catches my eyes. It is a collection of lectures delivered by Rabindranath Tagore. I had not known about this lecture so it attracted me. As I glanced through the book I remembered that this year is being observed as the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore by UNESCO along with the birt centenary of Pablo Neruda and Aime Cesaire. With the fear filled relief still fresh in my minds, I remembered one of the beautiful poems of Tagore, heart in heart. Will I ever be able to recollect it, in the present condition, without laughing at it, I don’t know. The poem is-

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

***

Few hours after I posted this write up I chance upon the latest edition of Outlook where people from all over the world have sent their reply to the article WALKING WITH THE COMRADES by Arudhati Roy, published in the previous issue of Outlook. Every reply is a material for study. But with reference to this write up I think two replies must be quoted here.

One S.S. Deo from Gurgaon writes, “By going against the state, the tribals are only providing employment to the likes of Arundhati Roy and human rights activists. The state might consider Maoists the gravest internal security threat but our home minster needs to concentrate on how to deal with an even bigger one- of Arundhati Roy and her tribe.”

The words “Concentrate” and “Deal” is quite scary, for me, because it demands action against a thinking mind. The thought can be debated and ought to be debated. But to say that a thinking mind itself is “a grave internal security threat,” says nothing but that we are entering an area of darkness.

As I turn the page, on the bottom edge of the page is a reply by one Rakesh Babu from Bangalore. He says, “I am burning my copy of your magazine lest the police arrest me for being in possession of Naxalite/ Maoist literature.”

I now go back to the expression “Democracy. Who is she? and when is she at home?” which was first used by “a grave internal security threat,” named Arundhati Roy.

10 April 2010

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1 Comment

  1. Matheikal said,

    Arundhati Roy is a global citizen, an honest soul, and an intelligent human being. Which most people are not. Hence the problems.

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