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Updated: January 26, 2012 17:25 IST

Rushdie is a sub-standard writer, says Katju

Special Correspondent
Comment (59)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Chairman of Press Council of India Markandey Katju.
The Hindu Chairman of Press Council of India Markandey Katju.

Salman Rushdie is a “poor” and “sub-standard writer,” who is considered “great because he lives on the banks of the Thames,” according to Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju.

Slamming the Jaipur Literature Festival's focus on the Indian-origin British writer, Justice Katju, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, criticised “so-called educated Indians” who “suffer from the colonial inferiority complex” and believe that writers living in India are inferior to those living abroad.

“Salman Rushdie dominated the Jaipur Literature Festival. I do not wish to get into the controversy whether banning him was correct or not. I am raising a much more fundamental issue,” he said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “I have read some of Rushdie's works and am of the opinion that he is a poor writer, and but for The Satanic Verses would have remained largely unknown. Even Midnight's Children is hardly great literature.”

Religious obscurantism

Justice Katju felt that too much attention was given to Mr. Rushdie during the festival. “I am not in favour of religious obscurantism. But neither do I wish to elevate a sub-standard writer into a hero.”

He claimed that there was not enough serious discussion about indigenous literature at the festival, naming Kabir, Premchand, Sharat Chandra, Ghalib and Faiz as writers whose works could have been discussed. He also named European writers such as Charles Dickens, George Bernard Shaw, Victor Hugo and Maxim Gorky as those who should have been discussed.

Instead, “two personalities linked with films were projected as ‘the finest poets' in India, though to my mind their work is of a very inferior order,” said Justice Katju. “This is the low level to which the Jaipur Festival sank.”

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sir,i don't think that being chairman of PCI you are impose your view publicly like you mention.but the point is people like you regulate system the way you want is not correct if you blindly support or i must say very specifically govt voice as former judge i don't think it is constitutionally right way to impose your thought in democracy.

from:  sushant kumar
Posted on: Jan 30, 2012 at 00:13 IST

The issue was, and still is, a different one - liberty and not ability of a writer. Mr. Katju, you ought to judge better than that. Take the right stance now for the larger good, judge his abilities later.

from:  Nisheeth
Posted on: Jan 29, 2012 at 10:13 IST

I think,like other readers, Justice Katju too has the right to express his opinion.And for that he need not necessarily be a qualified critic of literature.Leaving aside the question of freedom of expression/democracy,Justice Katju cautioned us against our colonial mindset/foreign phobia while reminding us about our indigenous writers instead of blindly aping the West. As such,his observation on our native writers cannot be dismissed lightly because it comes from a judge who is not a literary critic.

from:  RameshKMisra
Posted on: Jan 29, 2012 at 00:18 IST

The remarks made by Retired Justice Katju was inappropriate. The issue in discussion was the artistic freedom of a writer.When the lit fest and people concerned were discussing about the issue of the artistic freedom of a writer ,Katju has come up with a new theory.It is an indicator where he stands as far as the issue concerned.Salman may or may not be poor writer, that will not disqualify him from his freedom of expression.A person who spent almost all his life to the field of justice should have said what was his opinion as far as the issue of Salman is concerned .But instead of airing his veiw ,he found time to critisice the renowned writer .After being appointed as Chairman of PCI ,I think he is lowered to the role of PRO to the present Govt.His stand in case of social networks is another indication ,which way he travels now.The people of India expects some more responsible attitude and words from a responsible person like Katju .

from:  Deepesh
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 15:12 IST

While katju's comments are juvenille, he does have a point. Why allow a literary event to be used as a platform for other issues? Agreed Free speech is a fundemental issue, but to use some other platform as an easy stage to voice your opinions on anything under the Sun is silly. This will cause chaos and nothing more. I feel sorry for the organisers and other writers who were waiting to showcase their writings at the festival. While I am not critic of English Lit. I am certain that but for midnights children he would not have enjoyed the media spotlight he does.

from:  Subramani
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 10:50 IST

The main isssue here was the freedom of speech not the Mr Rushdie writings . Let the people read his works and make their own opinion.

from:  shiv prakash
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 08:21 IST

Mr. Katzu is 200 percent correct on this issue. No question can raised about his
knowledge of literature and academics as he has shown that abundantly in his
writings, lectures and judgements.

from:  Siddharth Singh
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012 at 03:44 IST

I am amused! Justice Katju had an opinion on Salman Rushdie which he expressed. The Hindu, true to its policy, gave print space for him. I was expecting these people who came in troves to streets, forums, talk shows and blogs to champion the cause of freedom of speech to come and appreciate Justice Katju for his opinion. But, they heaped slurs on Justice Katju for his views on their loved one, Salman Rushdie. Some of them donned the role of Ayothullah calling for not giving space to Justice Katju. Yesterday, NDTV had a talk show on Jay Leno episode with a question like... are Indians so insensitive...? Is it not same NDTV which gagged a small time blogger Khunte for his views on Barkha Dutt's unethical reporting of 27/11? Is it not true, Freedom of Speech is fashion statement for these pseudo champions? As a believer, I have my liking, reverence for certain philosophy, religion, icons, author, celebrity or whatever. So, if someone like Rushdies, Tasleema, MF Hussain, Jay Lenos were to hurl abuse on my revered or loved ones, it is not freedom of speech but blasphemy. A true freedom loving person will not support someone who hurts other person's faith. Freedom does not bestow the right to be irresponsible to fellow human beings and their social norms.

from:  Kalyan
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 19:44 IST

Whatever Justice Katju (Retd) may think, there is no escaping the fact
that Rushdie is one superb novelist, post-independent and post-
partition India, especially with "Midnight's Children", which covers
an entire spectrum of geography including Bangladesh ( Sunderbans )and
Pakistan, before finishing off in style in Delhi. The "Moor's Last
Sigh" which has Kerala for the background initially, is also very
good, and "Shalimar" reads like a classy suspense novel, based in
Kashmir. In fact, anyone with an interest in Kashmir, should read
"Shalimar"

from:  G Krishnan
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 17:10 IST

I was in US when the Satanic Verses was released. Those controversial
passages were truly and deeply offensive, were not organic to the
overall plot, and deliberately forced into the narrative under the
guide of a "phantasmagorical voyage". Agreed Mr.Katju!!. Rushdie
knew that these pages will offend and bring in publicity. Being from
the sub-continent, he could have anticipated the unfortunate violence.
Scores got killed when the book got released. As others have pointed
out, the praise and the accolades Rushdie received were partly
political, he has been riding that high and living in page 3 ever
since.If I was in the government, I would probably say that it is not worth the trouble of having Rushdie over for the JLF too. The govt. could have explicitly stated that they have weighed the rights of free speech vs the harm that Rusdhie had committed through his earlier work and state that in the interests of public peace we won't have him here in specific for a literary event.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 16:14 IST

The question is not about whether Mr.Rushdie is a genius or not. The question is why the Governments at the state and Center are trying to appease Religious extremists and prevent people from expressing themselves. Mr.Katju needs to know that he is passing judgements on a charge sheet that was never filed, i.e, Mr. Rushdie is a good author or not. No one is worried about it. The questions is of civil liberties and freedom of expression.

from:  Hemnath S
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 15:43 IST

As a devout Muslim woman, I found the threat of attack on OUR Literary Festival as a dastardly moment for civil liberties. In the ultimate analysis, whether the book is a work of artistic genius or a deliberate attack on Islam (could be both of the preceding) or just a sub standard book written by a publicity hungry author is completely besides the point. Testosterone filled mobs of men taking control of the street- are an aberration to normal life and must be condemned. There must be a finer way to calibrate our views without the FEAR of violence becoming an effective tool (which it is) by so many groups in this country. Frankly, I agree with Rushdies remarks on TV, most Muslims don't really care about this until their so called leaders (male leaders, I might add) start beating the war drum. Perhaps Mr. Katju should inquire into his pet 'Media Bill' instead of throwing himself into this debate, with nothing to offer us in solutions to the real problem.

from:  Fathima
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 15:18 IST

With all due respect to the literary genius of Mr. Katju, I would like to state that Mr. Katju has got it all wrong. The attention was focused on Mr. Rushdie not because he is considered a great author by one and all but because the fundamental freedom of speech and expression of an individual was sabotaged by an unholy combination of religious fundamentalists and self-serving politicians. He might or might not be a sub-standard author but first he is an individual whose rights need to be protected much as any other's. I am surprised to learn that in Mr. Katju's opinion, a secondary issue whether or not Salman Rushdie is "a poor writer" is "much more fundamental" than the issue of preserving the fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution. Mr. Katju, being a man of letters could have used his knowledge to educate the masses about the importance of free thought and expression and warned them not to get trapped by religious dogmas. Sadly he has wasted it on an entirely trivial issue

from:  Vimal
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 15:14 IST

It is government of India, which made Salman Rushdi famous by prohibiting his book.Otherwise his writings do not inspire anybody. A true writer should give positive thoughts to the society.

from:  Vipin Bhatnagar
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 15:03 IST

Isn't is strange how one can preach righteousness to our fellow human beings in one moment and practice ostracizing others in the next? Golden Rule of double speak- simply do them (very loudly) at the same time. Justice Katju keeps reminding India to appreciate it's ancient heritage and draw from it's depth and continuity, a sense of tolerance for each other. Yet he seems to have no tolerance for authors. Or is it only those those authors who fail to conform with his personal "vision" of India? After all, amongst all the gems of Indian history lies the brutal suppression of intellectual thought & even the sharing of knowledge with those not deemed fit to pursue such endeavors. Ostracizing others is another trait found quite prominently in our civilization's history. We created a Republic to rectify some of those anomalies of unjust behaviors. On India's Republic day, let me just say this : Justice Katju's defense of the indefensible is sickening.

from:  Priya
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 14:56 IST

Many people support Rushdie without going into his writings in the name of freedom of speech (Artistic freedom), but they are not understanding freedoms comes with reasonable restrictions. It does not give us power to abuse anyone or ones Religious sentiments. We are giving too much importance to a sub-standard writer in place of so much good writers available in India. Justice Katju has rightly said that we suffer from colonial inferiority complex.

from:  Md obaidullah
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 14:33 IST

I do not read fiction. But I consider Salman Rushdie a Genius, simply
based on his non-fiction writings (Imaginary homelands, Step across
this line). Step across this line is freely available, as part of the
Tanner Lectures from the university of Utah Maybe Katju can read it,
and improve his knowledge of literature, history, and more
importantly, tolerance. India appears to be full of pompous people like Katju, who do not think twice about straying outside their area of competence. As Chairman of Press Council of India, Mr Katju should be fighting for Rushdie´s right to speak at Jaipur festival. Instead, he appoints himself a literary critic, denies Rushdie that right, and blames the victim! In all this, we have failed as a country, to step across the line drawn by some obscure deobandi mullah. Trust the Katjus of the world to make that line deeper.

from:  James Gurung
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 14:30 IST

Even the so called 'sub-standard' writer has right to expression and right to address a meeting.Mr.Katju seems to have forgotten on all this. The question is whose rights Mr.Katju should be defending as an ex-Judge and head of Press Council. Instead of asking the right questions and analyzing the issue as an issue of right to expression he is giving his opinions that are irrelevant.In the Jaipur Literary Festival many themes were discussed.Before making such comments he should have checked what the agenda was.

from:  ravi srinivas
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 14:28 IST

@ Hassina.... your comments express the true voice of a common man.This is what I have been saying everyday in my comments in 'The Hindu". A common man of this land never gets involved in political or religious tussle.In fact it is because of this common man the words like democracy and secular is still alive in this country!The politicians,religious and caste organissations have to learn the basics from the common man.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 13:48 IST

It is our constitutional right of the freedom of free speech that allows Justice Katju to utter such derogatory epithets about a pre-eminent writer with impunity. He's definitely taking full liberty of this freedom by sharing his libel views; why not let others?

from:  Ayush Sood
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 13:45 IST

The question is did Mr Katju condescend to comment on the literary
abilities of other author's who attended Jaipur Literary Festival.
So why comment on Mr Rushdie. The right persons to answer Mr Katju
are the organizers, whom found it fit to call Mr Rushdie. In addition, Mr Rushdie has been coming to this festival many times. Why didn't Mr Katju not comment about the literary quality then ?
It is unclear why Mr Katju chose to weigh in on this topic, which does not directly concern him in any way. May be should clarify his motivation for joining issue, before actually make the comments. Then people can perhaps understand his perspective.

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 13:40 IST

Its totally a uncalled comment. Rushdie has visited india before
without making much noise. Rushdie was elevated to hero during the
Jaipur Festival thanks to our feeble politicians gyrating to
fundamentalist demands. Justice Katju now on the works weighs poorly as
popularity is not something that is secured, it is bestowed. Well, if
he thought Rushdie was given more than the due in news during the
Festival, that cannot be a reason to make scathing remarks about his
literary works.

from:  N.Sekar
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 12:04 IST

I salute Mr. Katju for airing his opinion without any fear. These days
people tend to get carried away by the media glare. Mr. Rushdie was not even known before the Satanic Verses. The so called poets of the silver screen themselves don't rate themselves as great is also a fact. The real poets of this country are buried under the TV and cinema. As Vaali >said, they're tail wagging dogs looking for bones.

from:  C Narayanaswamy
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 11:46 IST

Justice Katju, is completely off tangent on this. Jaipur event was
dominated by Rushdie, because extremists prevented him from attending.
It is disappointing to note that a judge of his eminence does not
consider freedom of speech and expression to be not that important. He
is entitled to his views on the quality of Rushdie's works. But works
can only happen, if there is "Freedom of Speech and Expression". His
disdain and contempt for the educated Indian is obvious. Tulsidas,
Kabir, Valmiki and others have become immortal through their
monumental works, and I have not seen or heard anyone belittling their
greatness. The film poets Gulzar and Javed Akhtar, have won the hearts
of contemporary indians, through their works, which need not be looked
through the prism of past. Katju wears tie and suit even to-day, gave judgments in English, wore the black gown, and these colonial inheritances did not affect him. He seems determined to discredit
himself with his outlandish utterances.

from:  C S Vadiraj
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 11:00 IST

I find Katju's comments naive. Katju needs to read Salman Rushdie novels
to understand his work and talent. He is definitely a hero and there are
many people who line next to Thames and they all are not heroes.

from:  VM
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 10:06 IST

Salman Rushdie is a writer belonging to a different genre. He is controversial for his views, which can be wrong sometimes. But the government of India shouldn't run away from welcoming such personalities for literary functions and it doesn't have any role here to play. Gehlot is a congressman and he needs to show maturity as a chief minister. I wonder Katju's reaction is in line with the pro-congress govt or he fears about his position. As a Press council chairman he should not have used this "sub-standard" words to denounce Salman Rushdie

from:  vinod
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 09:44 IST

Sir, you have retired now. You are not a judge. Yes. Believe it. Perhaps you are fixated with idea of "once a judge always a judge". Now forget the habit of passing judgement. No one has filed a PIL in your court to get your opinion about competence and ability of Salman Rusdie. Perhaps you have not understood the matter. The fuss was not to prove that Rushdie is best author. It was about freedom of speech. We have learned that those in power have sent secret agents 007 to curb the freedom of speech of Indian Press so the matter becomes relevant. No doubt that Kabir Premchand, Rahim, Surdas etc have given us great literature. Now what should we do? Invoke their spirits from heavens to learn from their experiences? Ban new authors? Make an agency for accreditation of new authors and should discard their work if they are found inferior to Kabir or Tulsi? What is your point?

from:  Dhirendra
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 09:41 IST

Absolutely, agree with Justice Katju.

from:  Fathima
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 09:33 IST

I feeling disappointed in Press Council coming against freedom of speech. I feel betrayed. From the word go, I found his approach to media honest and factually sound. listening to him now makes me so unhappy. does he have no clue how small the progress is inside our community? Then when they score these pointless victories, we go two steps back. Believe me or not believe me, muslim community is so closed. Did anyone bother to come and ask her women how we feeling about all this? my point is this...symbolism is very important. when you give the victory to hardliners..they feel strong and that affect all of us in long term. i have never read rushdie but i know everyone talking of how mulsim power works! bring more people and more people...there is no end like this. ALL should be free to speak.

from:  Hassina
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 08:24 IST

I started liking his comments more and more. I enjoy reading his comments , especially his thoughts on main stream media's love affair with anything connected with movies..

from:  Murali
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 08:15 IST

'Fishing in troubled waters' thats what comes to my mind after reading
Mr.Katju's reaction.The question of Rushdie being standard or sub-standard was never an issue.There were so many eminents in the festival,but Rushdie came to the limelight because an individuals right of expression and the democracy was in question.Criticising the “so-called educated Indians” doesn't make sense because they were not supporting Rushdie,but were giving there voice for democracy and an individuals right of expression.Being a retired Supreme Court judge he could have very well addressed it here,but sadly he avoided it.his comments before, supporting Sunny Leone,condemning the press and now Rushdie, it all goes to shows that Mr.Katju wants to be in the limelight of the news with criticisms.

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 08:10 IST

I hope folks aren't easily distracted from the critical point on which the Literary Festival has gained undue attention. It has nothing to do with the quality of Salman Rushdie's Book(though I'm afraid, I disagree with Katju, I enjoyed Midnights Children and even found the Satanic Verses engaging). Just as Tasleema Nasrin being chased out of Calcutta has nothing to do with Katju's perception of her quality of writing(I haven't read her books)! Being held hostage by fundamentalists is what sends a shiver down my spine. What kind of an India do I want my young daughter (she's all of six years old) to grow up in? One where books are banned and authors running for cover from Mobs? Shame on us for sitting by and giving up the public space to the intolerant mobs that threatened violence at the Literary Festival. That a former judge can't see the travesty in the break down of the rule of law is testimony to how deep the erosion of our state has gone.

from:  Geeta
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 08:09 IST

Justice Katju should be on the Governments PR team. After all, he seems to be doing a better job of spinning the situation than the Politicians themselves! We aren't buying the spin though. It's ironic that a man who constantly hits home the point of India being a land of migrants with tremendous diversity stretching back thousand of years- can't bring himself to accept a writer born in India a few decades back, or for that matter, simply accept the diversity of work which global literature presents. Inserting the colonial bogey into the debate now is unworthy of a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India. I shall have to seriously reconsider my support for his campaign to expand the Press Council's powers. What would he really do with all "those teeth"; I wonder now??

from:  Aakash
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 07:57 IST

Justice Katju,s remarks on the Jaipur festival and about Rushdie,s literary standard are up to the mark and exact and have been placed in the media at the right time. His words need to be thought upon as we have been writing for more than sixty years now after independence still we have the psyche of being inferior to western writers and we begin to fear those who try to gain fame on cheap and controversial writings like Salman Rushidie whose name perhaps not much people would have been aware but for the writings of blasphemous satanic verses.

from:  Tamsheed
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 07:46 IST

What is Mr Katju`s expertise as a literary critique ? Has he even heard of the booker of bookers? People need to restrict their expert opinions to their field of expertise ( that is if they have any! ) .This is not the first time he got his foot in his mouth.

from:  Manoj
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 07:34 IST

Mr. Katju's comments are astonishing as is your reporting. In what context were these comments made? What questions were put to Mr. Katju? What happened at the festival had nothing to do with Rushdie or writing or anything else. There were criminal threats by members of the Deobandi college, the CM apparently fabricated a story of fictitious threats, and no one in government came forward to defend the laws of the land. These are the only things that needed to be addressed by Mr. Katju or anyone else on this topic. The best that can be said about Katju's comments is that perhaps these words were spoken as a way of distracting attention from the main issues. Otherwise, these comments appear as opinionated and irrelevant as the vast majority of what passes for critical comment in our fabled land.

from:  Ranga K
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 07:20 IST

"I am raising a much more fundamental issue” says Justice Katju. I beg to disagree: By effectively siding with the most regressive elements of society, Katju has given us a glimpse of his intellectual belief system. A Soviet style understanding of art (to be accepted only if it meets the "States Mission") is more akin to propaganda. The original intentions of many a despotic regime are quickly forgotten as these so called "checks on freedom for National Unity" take their toll on Societies innate desire to express itself in many complex ways. A mature society does not repress these natural instincts of expression and exploration through art or literature. {His own hero's from history are a personal choice, irrelevant to the principle of Law: which must be upheld on behalf of us all.}

from:  Priyanka
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 07:18 IST

I was in London when the book hit the book stalls there. I eagerly
acquired a copy and went through it with patience. Firstly, it is
not much of a literary piece. It is boring to read. I bet that the
satanic verses found there were super imposed to add spice. It does
not add material value to the book . The praise by the western media
is purely political.

from:  K.Sridharan
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 07:17 IST

It is always good to have a second opinion and I'm glad to see that
justice Katju is applying the same high standards on a controversial
personality who appears to have become celebrity by publishing
substandard literature. While everyone has a right to express his/her
opinion but it should never be at the cost of social unrest to wider
masses and insult to someones relegious faith.

Media has a very important role to play while airing this second
opinion and not getting into a newsline frenzy. we have to educate our
masses without creating a big social stir. It will thus be required
that people with right and balanced social skills are given responsibility to cover events as delicate as a literature festival.

from:  Ajay pandey
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 06:57 IST

Mr. Katju is hardly a serious judge of literature. He has a habit of expressing opinions on things he knows nothing about-- like his continued espousal of the Aryan invasion/myth long after science has discredited it. Rushdie hardly needs endorsement from a 'substandard' literary critic.

from:  N.S. Rajaram
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 05:27 IST

Well said. Does one writer deserve this much of attention? Thank you for your comments.

from:  RK
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 05:22 IST

Yes.I fully agree with Katju's view on literature.His basic urge that India should have its Renaissance here and now and his appeal to moulders of public opinion to participate in it and perform their duty to their country as responsible citizen keeping the common man at the core is reminding us the goals of India's freedom struggle.His call to modernise India socially and focussed on Indian constitution,the basis for existence of India similar to the Renaissance in the west while retaining the good of ancient India is an urgent necessity.

from:  R.Subbarao
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 04:36 IST

Why did they not use one of his better books to read at the Festival? Everyone agrees Satanic Verses is tedious. Why chose a work insulting to the Muslims in a densely muslim populated city? Would the book have sold at all if it did not have the controversial title? I doubt it as it is a big DUD. In fact Rushdie lost a lot of us readers who avoided reading his other more compelling works by hyping this uninteresting book which could easily have been entitled New Interpretations. Most Muslims would have read one page and forgotten the book. Katju is extremely well read. Our Indian writers in India are just as valid and should be promoted first and not someone who causes distress to an entire community. Christians were upset when Da Vinci code was published which was another DUD. The movie was more boring.

from:  angela alvares
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 04:29 IST

This is a serious and thought-provoking comments by Mr. Katju. His views may be blunt, but has got all the elements of truth, besides, his ardent respect and discipline to our culture, society and above all, the invaluable literatures written by the gods of literature, like Kabir, Premchand, Charles Dickens, to name a few. Let all heads dump in a sea of shame.

from:  Pavan
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 03:55 IST

Why is a former Supreme Court Justice skirting the issue of Free Speech while publicly offering his non-expert views on literary work? His comments make him look more like an Internet troll and less like Chairman of PTI. Also, he is the one that seems to be suffering from inferiority complex judging by his comments. We, the "educated class"(Thanks for the broad generalization, Chairman of PTI!)
normally expect someone in your position to exercise caution and not use the opportunity to indulge in flame baiting and stir up further controversy. We are surprised you regard commenting on some writer's literary work(subjective) as a more fundamental issue than the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. What was your previous job again?

from:  yeshvir
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 03:19 IST

Justice Katju is entitled to his opinion of Salman Rushdie's literary works. But his name calling to those who consider Mr. Rushdie's works or the work of other expatriate writers favorably, is absolutely uncalled for. Just because an event is focused at the diaspora writers, doesnt mean the participants consider vernacular writers and/or resident writers inferior. One can question his understanding and appreciation of literary works as well. Besides being widely appreciated in literary circles, he has impressed many (myself included) with his inimitable style, and also influenced many up and coming writers. Characterizations such as "Suffering from colonial inferiority complex" are incredulous - it is akin to liken the Justice's long career of interpreting the Constitution (which borrows heavily from British Common Law)to colonial subservience. There are better ways to make a point, and this does not befit a person of his stature.

from:  Debargha Sengupta
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 03:17 IST

Very true-what Justice Katju says is correct-there are writers of grit
and substance than this Mr Rushdie-who is the paradigm of arrogance and haughtiness. I have tried to read his books-dry, tasteless and humorless- and could barely get past the first two pages!! He would of course have been mostly unknown if it hadn't been the furore kicked up by his notorious creation 'The Satanic Verses'!!!

from:  Dr S James
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 03:08 IST

As blunt and overtly critical as he may sound, you can't deny that more often than not, he has the courage to speak up!

from:  Harsh
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 02:48 IST

A former Supreme Court judge would have been in a better position had
he focused on the issue of freedom of speech in a democracy which was
sacrificed in the Rushdie case. Instead, he is offering a review of
Rushdie's work, a judgement which is best left to those with literary
backgrounds.The Rushdie issue dominated the conference not because of
Rushdie, but because of the attempt to bar him from appearing this
year. He had attended the same festival previously without incident.
Thames has nothing to do with it. He actually lives in New York most
of the time.

from:  K.V. Nagarajan
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 02:40 IST

Mr Markandey Katju has not only managed to publicly display his lack of understanding of literature by calling Rushdie a 'sub-standard' writer, but also betrayed his utter ignorance about the beauty of self-expression and freedom of speech. I wonder what criteria does he use for this 'standard', and wonder how he managed to measure this. Surely he deserves the mother of Nobel Prize for Literary Relativity Theory.

from:  S Gupta
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 02:19 IST

I agree with Mr. Katju; I have read the SATANIC VERSUS by Salman Rushdie; There is nothing extraordinary to praise the author in this book; the author's english is pretty cheap; he knows he will offend millions of muslims by this infamous book; sure he did, but in doing so, has shot into prominence by the FATWAH by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran which was a blessing in disguise for Mr. Rushdie, for his name was known all over the literary world.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 01:55 IST

Justice Katju after retiring from judiciary has not yet stopped giving judgement. Does a writer like Rushdie needs Katju's nod to prove his credibility? Rushdie is targeted by religious hardliners. Are we living in any Theocracy? Its difficult to stand for a common man.

from:  Aseem
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 01:53 IST

Mr Katju's comments are ridiculous. Whether an individual thinks that Mr Rusddie is a good or a bad writer is irrelevant. That is for the readers to decide. The issue is censorship. In that contest, the Editorial of 'The Hindu' in vigorous defense of democracy and Free Speech is topical and should be read by every one and should be debated.

from:  B. S. Jandhyala
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 01:12 IST

Justice Kathju has lost his bearing. Salman Rushdie is one of the finest novelist living on this planet, who almost invented a form of novel writing called the magical realism. One may or may not like his novels. His statements on freedom of press (expression) as present chairman of press council of India bears dangerous resemblance to what happened for 19 months during internal emergency in India.

from:  Brajesh Choudhary, University of Delhi.
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 01:02 IST

There is abundant merit in what Justice Katju has to say. It is time that we wake up and took a critical look at the writings of great native writers and stopped aping west. Social order in the country is subjugated to the overkill of commercial cinema & TV. The realities and serious literary works get relegated to back pages of discussion. Certianly Rushdie does not deserve to hog attention, but just a brief mention as also ran.

from:  Yatrika
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 01:00 IST

I agree to Mr. Katju. Jaipur literature fastival was full of useless drama. No opportunity was given to showcase quality literature present in India.

from:  Ashish
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 00:58 IST

Justice (rtd) Katju has in recent weeks held forth on a number of subjects that were, perhaps, within his ken as a former judge and current chairman of the press council of India. But now its seems he has only to speak in order to qualify to be published. If this is not so, then why on earth would a newspaper or news website carry his views on literature and literary festivals? Unless of course The Hindu considers him a literary and cultural critic of note!

from:  tara
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 00:55 IST

I think Mr.Katju should stay with things he is good at not show off ignorance like this. Moreover Mr. Rushdie is not Mr.Rahman, about whom Mr.Katju made similar comments and got away with. One more request to Hindu, Please don't waste precious space by printing such articles.

from:  Ravi Kiran K
Posted on: Jan 26, 2012 at 00:07 IST

“Salman Rushdie dominated the Jaipur Literature Festival. I do not wish to get into the controversy whether banning him was correct or not. I am raising a much more fundamental issue,” he said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “I have read some of Rushdie's works and am of the opinion that he is a poor writer, and but for The Satanic Verses would have remained largely unknown. Even Midnight's Children is hardly great literature.” So your opinion of Mr.Rushdie's abilities as a writer are more fundamental an issue than the issue of denying a person his constitutional right of free speech thereby desecrating the most fundamental freedom upon which all other freedoms and liberties are based?? I've enjoyed some of Justice Katju's writings on the media but he does say some stupid things doesn't he? You don't like the book, sir, write a review. But let us not pretend has anything to do with the very serious matter protecting free speech.

from:  Raamganesh
Posted on: Jan 25, 2012 at 23:49 IST
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