It is indeed painful to see M.F. Husain, India's most talented artist, rendered an alien in his homeland. An artist should have the freedom to express himself. Never mind if some of us do not appreciate his art. The fact that cases are pending against him in various courts of India is ridiculous. Equally shameful is that he faced threats to his security in a country which boasts of democracy and secularism. Conferring the Qatar nationality on Mr. Husain is a fitting reply to all of us who have remained indifferent to the plight of the genius.
Sanu G. Pillai,
N. Ram's assertion that the conferment of Qatar nationality on Mr. Husain is due to the failure of the executive and the legal system to enable his safe return (Feb. 25) is a bold statement against the forces that divide our nation. The multicultural mosaic of Indian civilisation and its art forms need no endorsement from bigoted mobs. That an Islamic republic values and promotes art and creativity, while a so-called secular democracy could not accommodate diverse expressions of a creative genius of our time is indeed an unfortunate paradox.
C. J. Shahjahan,
India has long prided itself on its secular credentials. It gave the world the concept of “Sarva Dharm Sambhav.” It is unfortunate that in the same land, we have people being forced into exile for expressing themselves. I am a Hindu too but my religious sentiments are not a wee bit offended by the paintings of Mr. Husain. Mr. Ram has rightly cited the Khajuraho sculptures which depict explicit figures of sexuality. Will radical Hindus destroy them too?
What is most shameful is the fact that the government remains a mute spectator to acts of bigotry, unwilling to act. It should either do everything it can to stop the radical elements from spreading terror or throw away the cloak of secularism it has long been wearing without willing to mend the gaping holes.
It is disheartening to see India's pluralistic existence being threatened by a few religious bigots. It is perhaps in keeping with the spirit of times that a nonagenarian who brought laurels to our country has been forced to shed his nationality. We can take comfort from the fact that Mr. Husain is a humanist identified by his work, not nationality.
Syed Abid Shah,
India has not taken care of one who toiled for the land of his birth throughout his active life. I personally know that Mr. Husain never cared for any religion and that he is most secular. What he portrayed in his paintings was nothing but Indian — the kind of art that has been recognised for centuries here. All of a sudden, someone found fault with him because of his religion which he never seriously practised. We have kicked out our own son of the soil. What secular India failed to do, the Arabic Islamic Qatar has accomplished. We hang our heads in shame.
N.A.M. Usuf Ali,
The ordeal of Mr. Husain and Taslima Nasreen bears testimony to the fact that it is not the rule of law but muscle power that reigns supreme in India. If we fail to welcome our very own Mr. Husain back to India and rehabilitate the banished guest from Bangladesh, we will lose our right to boast about secularism and freedom of speech and expression.
Shubha Mudgal, Sharmila Tagore, Shyam Benegal and other artists are justified in terming the injustice and disrespect shown to Mr. Husain a national shame. First it was Salman Rushdie, today it is Mr. Husain. Tomorrow, some other literary figure will face a similar treatment for expressing himself or herself.
M. Somasekhar Prasad,
Qatar's gesture of conferring its nationality on Mr. Husain is significant. It is more than a gesture. It is an honour bestowed on his creativity. We, as a nation, must become more tolerant if we are to become secular in the real sense. Dissent in any field is the hallmark of democracy, which is what we achieved after a long struggle. The world has transformed and religion today is just a symbolic identity.
N.S. Kishore Babu,
We are a people who see god in the stones we worship. But when a band of intolerants calling themselves the protectors of Hinduism can see only the nudity of a woman in the art form of a goddess we, instead of reining in the ignorant, banish the artist overseas.
It is a shame on our country that such a talented and great artist as Mr. Husain had to go on an enforced exile because of threats from anti-secular organisations. Karan Singh once described India as a “cultural superpower.” But one now wonders whether it is true. Mr. Husain could not even attend the convocation in Jamia Millia Islamia, where he was to be awarded an honorary doctorate because some groups thought he was anti-national. How ridiculous!
The less said about the so-called keepers of Hinduism, the better for India. Six decades ago, we resolved to become a secular country. I think that was a joke because each passing day, one or the other goon emerges and threatens a group of persons to draw maximum publicity. It is shame that we have lost a great artist.
That this proud nation has to submit to the dictates of a few bigots and hooligans is a sad reflection on the state of affairs. The government misses no opportunity to swear by the lofty principles of secularism and equality but the reality is quite different.