‘The Adivasi Will Not Dance’
We are bewildered and dismayed to learn about the recent banning of Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's collection of short stories, The Adivasi Will Not Dance, by the Government of Jharkhand. This ban is absurd and sets a dangerous precedent.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The same article, admittedly, allows the state to make laws that impose "reasonable restrictions" on this fundamental right, but only based on specific grounds (such as national security or public order), none of which apply in this case.

Superficially, it may appear that one of these pre-specified grounds, "the interests of decency", could be invoked to justify the ban. The book does include some sexually explicit scenes, but calling them "indecent" would be extreme prudishness. If books that include love-making scenes were to be banned, hundreds of thousands of novels would have to be banned, not to speak of the Kamasutra. Those who think of sex as indecent are free to read something else.

It has been argued that some stories in the book are "derogatory to Santhal women", in particular a story where a Santhal woman consents to casual sex with a policeman in exchange for money. Even if it were true that this story is derogatory, that would not constitute a permissible ground for banning the book under Article 19. Further, the view that the story is derogatory overlooks the fact that it is a work of imagination. The imaginary incident described in the story does not cast any aspersions whatsoever on Santhal women. It is just possible that the story is inspired by some real-life event, but if that is so, it makes the story all the more legitimate.

The ban on The Adivasi Will Not Dance is not only deplorable in itself but also adds to a series of dangerous precedents of books being banned on flimsy grounds in India. This ban mania (also targeted at films, events, statements, tweets, foods, relationships and what not) is an ominous attack on freedom, democracy and rationality.
Aashish Xaxa (Research Scholar), Abhay Xaxa (Research Scholar), Agnes Murmu (Retired Teacher), Ajitha George (Researcher), Akash Poyam (Research Scholar), Alpa Shah (Anthropologist), Anjor Bhaskar (Research Scholar), Ankita Aggrawal (Independent Researcher), Anpa Marndi (Assistant Professor), Anumeha Yadav (Journalist), Arundhati Roy (Wrtiter), Ashish Birulee (Photo-journalist), Ashish Gupta (Research Scholar), Balram (Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand), Bani Hembrom (Doctor), Bela Bhatia (Researcher and Writer)
and others...

Right to Freedom
If India is able to provide security to the Hindus or is able to make Amaranth Yatra secure by every means, then what about the rest of the things? Where are the ideals of secularism? A Hindu has the right to drink alcohol in clubs, on roads, and in parties and a Muslim is publically beaten to death without any reason. Yes, the reason is his religious identity. Political parties are using religion as a vote bank for their own benefit, but what about the sufferers.

Every Indian shouting from the house-tops that there will be no coercion in the matter of religion. Mahatma Ghandhi said "I have been long pledged to serve the cow but how can my religion also be the religion of the rest of the Indians? It will mean coercion against those Indians who are not Hindus. How can I force anyone not to slaughter cows unless he is himself so disposed? It is not as if there were only Hindus in the Indian Union. There are Muslims, Parsis, Christians and other religious groups here".

The assumption of the Hindus that India now has become the land of the Hindus is erroneous. India belongs to all who live here. If Hindus stop cow slaughter by law here and the very reverse happens in Muslim countries, what will be the result? Supposing they say Hindus would not be allowed to visit temples because it is against Shariat to worship idols? Hindus see God even in a stone but how do they harm others by this belief? If therefore they were stopped from visiting temples they would still visit them.

I being a Muslim feel that we are not safe. I believe that if India declares itself as secular then it should prove. If it can detain or sentence any person in the name of maintaining public order in Kashmir, then maintaining public order is needed in every single state; be it Delhi or Jharkhand and at every single place, be it train or any other public place. We as Muslims want to see what will be done to the criminals of Junaid and Usman.
Yasmeena Ara,
University of Kashmir, Srinagar

Plantation Labour
Referring to the plight of plantation labour in north Bengal, the condition is no different in Assam and North-Eastern region. Their wages are low and exploitaion is high especially in the large estates run by Tata group. Most of these labourers migrate to south India, specially Kerala where the conditions may be little better. The governments have not tried to increase wages and enhance economic freedom. Women labourers are the worst sufferers and are even forced to migrate to safer and more profitable places.
Sheshu Babu

Vol. 50, No.25, Dec 24 - 30, 2017