Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A 10-point primer on the Rushdie debate – for those who need help battling the right-wing loonies of our land

  1. Rushdie does not need a visa to visit India – He is a PIO (Person of Indian Origin).

  1. Satanic Verses was banned in 1988. Since then Rushdie has visited India 5 times – the timing of his previous visits likely didn’t sync with election time in India.

  1. Rushdie has not been charged with any criminality in any court in India. Those who claim that he is liable for prosecution under IPC are spreading a falsehood. IPC 298 is against hate crime. A fiction writer who has written an allegory cannot be charged under the same. Overarching it all is that Rushdie is guaranteed freedom of speech under the Indian Constitution.

  1. When a work of fiction hurts the religious sensibilities of some people they need to
    1. First, develop a thicker skin
    2. Failing which, protest through proper channels – write to a newspaper, present their case on TV (preferably without subjecting us to a deafening tirade), stage peaceful protests, seek legal recourse …

  1.  If a work of fiction can upset the great and glorious religions of our world, we need to re-examine those religions and our faith in them. Hussain painting Hindu goddesses in nude or Rushdie denigrating Islam through Satanic Verses is a matter of interpretation. How does a book meant to be read in private or a painting displayed in a home offend some folks? And even if it is offensive, it is not a crime.

  1. Cultures progress by inculcating and fostering debate, a vigorous spirit of enquiry and granting space to individual voices. Otherwise they go moribund. We might claim Mera Bharat Mahaan but the truth is that in India we do not guarantee the fundamental rights of citizens. The British Government spent millions on Rushdie’s protection while our politicos are busy hiding behind ‘people’s sentiments’.

  1. A healthy dose of skepticism – to what extent is the brouhaha over Rushdie’s presence at a litfest (which he attended in its inaugural 2007 session as well) manufactured by incompetent leaders looking for an emotional topic to rally their vote bank?

  1. Let’s turn the tables. What has the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary done to improve the lot of Muslims in India? When did they last raise their voice to improve education and provide more jobs? Is an English language writer’s trip home of more relevance than rising unemployment and illiteracy afflicting the Muslims of India? 

  1. It is easy to rant and rave – offering Rs 1 Lac to any one who will hurl a shoe at Rushdie requires a primal brain. Thinking requires us to exercise our pre-frontal, clarify our position and examine the opponent’s stand – if that’s too much exercise for the grey cells, then we are strawmen who need to have brains put inside our heads.

  1.  Finally, it is silence which allowed the Nazi takeover of Europe. Silence is dangerous when it shrinks the space for debate and dissent. It creates the wasteland of Saudi Arabia. As Elie Wiesel says: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.” Take a stand, now.


  1. I find this eruption against Rushdie as politically motivated one..
    But none has rights to hurt others sentiment especially a religious sentiment.
    that book hold some blasphemous words...
    after few days, this fiasco will R.I.P :P
    i liked the very 1st point :)

  2. Manpreet, thank you for this post! I was looking for something covering the topic...Cheers :)

    Shared it here,

  3. The points raised in this article are of vital nature. The reason I'm writing this is it not about the impending visit of Shri Rushdie 'But' the reason why Government of India wants to stop him from attending this meet.

  4. @ Rajiv: Vote bank politics, competitive communalism (mera religion us ke religion se zyada safed), spineless appeasers in guise of leaders ... this nation needs some serious therapy.