New Delhi: Intellectuals and Gandhi kin
have come out in the open against the clamour for taking out
of shelves a controversial book on Mahatma Gandhi, saying
banning is not a "democratic response".
Gujarat government has already banned the book "Great
Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India" by Pulitzer
Prize-winning author Joseph Lelyveld while Maharashtra is
contemplating such an action. Union Law Minister M Veerappa
Moily had also hinted at such a possibility earlier.
The reviews of the book hit the newspapers in England
and US had claimed that the book says Gandhi was a bisexual
and had a German-Jewish bodybuilder lover in Hermann
Condemning the ban, Lelyveld said, "in a country
(India) that calls itself a democracy, it is shameful to ban a
book that no one has read, including the people who are doing
"They should at least make an effort to see the pages
that they think offend them before they take such an extreme
step. I find it very discouraging to think that India would so
limit discussion," he said.
Gandhi`s great grandson Tushar Gandhi said it will be
a "greater insult" to Bapu than that book or the author
might have intended.
"If the government of Maharashtra bans the book, it
will be a greater insult to Bapu than that book or the author
might have intended. I will challenge the ban," he tweeted.
He said he was against the culture of banning books
and added "how does it matter if the Mahatma was straight, gay
or bisexual? Every time he would still be the man who led
India to freedom".
Writer K Sachidanandan said the plans to ban the book
should be condemned. "Banning a book is not a democratic
action," he said.
Another writer Namita Gokhale noted that "every time a
book is banned, it saddens me because you simple cannot
ban ideas, you cannot ban thoughts." She said she was more
resigned than upset by this development.
"In India a democratic space for ideas is a gift and I
think banning a book is the most pointless exercise," she