This refers to the editorial “Don't ban Great Soul (April 1). The swiftness with which the Gujarat government banned the book Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India on the Mahatma for the alleged references to his being a bisexual and racist, and the way Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily held out the threat that the Centre would ban the book — before he did an about-turn — make one wonder what goes on in the minds of our elected representatives. Even assuming that Joseph Lelyveld has made some references, have we become so intolerant of a different viewpoint? Does the Mahatma need a Narendra Modi or a Moily to defend his reputation?
N.K. Raveendran, Bangalore
It is indeed unfortunate that a book on Gandhiji, who was remarkably open about his life, is being sought to be banned by politicians, many of whom, I am sure, have not even read it. The Internet is often successfully used to defeat such bans but the lesson is lost on our politicians. They pander to populist sentiments by banning books that are opposed by a vocal group of people.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
It is interesting to note how, in the era of facebook and twitter, even a small issue can be blown out of proportion. Banning Great Soul or organising protests against it will not affect the book or the author. In fact, such moves will only boost publicity.
Sajeer Fazil, Bangalore
It is distressing to note that in the 21st century and in a democratic set-up, we are struggling to overcome intolerance for a critical analysis of a renowned leader. Why should a person, however great his contribution, be thought to be so blemish-less that he cannot be subject to any critical appraisal? Whether it is the Dutch cartoons, M.F. Husain paintings or books like the Great Soul, should not civil society free itself from the shackles of intolerant thought policing?
Kasim Sait, Chennai
The whole world knows only too well about the Mahatma and his philosophy of non-violence. It would be presumptuous to think that certain references in the book can sully the image of the leader known for his simplicity and austere style of living. In India, he will always be remembered as the Father of the Nation. Banning the book will only give it undue publicity.
A. Michael Dhanaraj, Coimbatore
The whole world knows what Mahatma Gandhi stood for. A ban on Great Soul will only give the book free publicity. What we need are well reasoned debates and informed criticism of the book. The Centre would do well not to follow in the Gujarat government's footsteps.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan, Srirangam
Starting with the Champaran movement, there were many occasions which clearly proved that Gandhiji was unbiased and non-racist. As for bi-sexuality, it is one's private affair. In this progressive age, it is hardly an issue that should worry the government. One can't effectively ban a piece of literature in the Internet age.
Tabrez Akhtar, Aligarh
Gandhiji is revered across the globe as a great leader. Even if there are some references to some trait in his character in the Great Soul, they will not tarnish his unique image. No useful purpose will be served by proscribing the book.
N.C. Sreedharan, Kannur
How does it matter whether or not Gandhiji was bisexual? Will he no more be a Mahatma and his wonderful ideas no longer saintly? Are we protecting Gandhiji or ourselves?
Shubham Agrawal, Indore
The furore over the book was sparked by local media reports, courtesy reviews in the U.S. and the U.K., some of which emphasised passages in the book that suggested Gandhiji shared an intimate relationship with Hermann Kallenbach. While in the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Roberts says “the only portrait on the mantelpiece opposite Gandhi's bed” was of Kallenbach, Britain's Daily Mail has run an article under the headline: “Gandhi ‘left his wife to live with a male lover' new book claims.”
J.S. Acharya, Tyne and Wear, U.K.
Trivia and heresy cannot sully the Mahatma's image. Instead of fuming and fretting over a book written by a western author, the political class should try to uphold Gandhiji's values.
Manohar Alembath, Kannur
Tushar Gandhi is right in saying that banning the book would be a greater insult. Gandhiji stood for freedom of expression, truth and tolerance. The book has not yet been released in India. People who are for banning it have not read it. The Gujarat government is doing what the sangh parivar did in the case of Jaswant Singh's book on Jinnah. Banning a book is no way to express our resentment. We should express our reservations on the contents of the book, if any, by writing about them.
Raghavendra Nath Misra, New Delhi