Mumbai: Indian-born Canadian writer Rohinton
Mistry voiced dismay over Mumbai University providing
"deluxe service via express delivery" in quickly dropping his
Booker prize-nominated book `Such A Long Journey` from college
syllabus following a demand by the Shiv Sena.
"A political party demanded change in syllabus and Mumbai
University provided deluxe service via express delivery making
the book disappear the very next day," Mistry, who is based in
Canada, said in an email, copies of which were distributed
by social activist Anand Patwardhan this evening.
"Mumbai University has come perilously close to
institutionalising the ugly notion of self-censorship,"
the author, whose book was nominated for the prestigious
Booker prize in 1990, said.
Mistry also slammed the Sena for pushing for withdrawing
his award winning book.
On Shiv Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray who led
the protest against the book, Mistry, a Mumbai-born Parsi,
said, "a 20-year-old final year student of BA in History,
beneficiary of a good education... about to embark on Sena`s
well-trodden path to appeal to the worst in human nature."
Aditya, son of Uddhav Thackeray, was launched into
politics by his grand-father and Sena supremo Bal Thackeray
last night at a Dussehra rally in Mumbai.
"In this sorry spectacle of book-burning and book-
banning, the Shiv Sena has followed its depressingly familiar,
tediously predictable script of threats and intimidation that
Mumbai has endured since the organisation`s founding in 1966.
But it is the expeditious decision by Mumbai University which
causes profound dismay," 58-year-old Mistry said.
Aditya had vehemently opposed Mistry`s book as it
reportedly contained anti-Sena remarks. Bhartiya Vidyarthi
Sena, a students wing of the party, burnt copies of the novel
last month and petitioned Mumbai University`s vice-chancellor
Dr Rajan Welukar to drop it from the second-year BA syllabus.
Bowing to the demand of the BVS, the University
immediately withdrew the book from the syllabus and issued
notices to all the colleges regarding the same.
On the controversy, Bal Thackeray said at yesterday`s
Sena rally that it contains derogatory language.
"...the book has derogatory language and you want to
teach itto the college students? How can slang be taught to
them? But some experts are speaking in its favour and you
people are tolerating it," he had said.
Aditya, student of St Xavier College in south Mumbai, was
slammed by his own principal over the move last week.
Apparently, Mistry was also the student of the same college.
On criticism over Sena putting pressure on Mumbai
University to withdraw the book from the syllabus for
allegedly containing derogatory remarks against the party,
Uddhav said last night Sena had only commented that such books
should not have been included in college syllabus.
"These books are meant to be sold on railway stalls and
not taught to students," he said.