Cry Freedom!

Two books on the theme from Tulika this month...

In PUBLISH AND BE DAMNED: Censorship and Intolerance in India Rajeev Dhavan, a Senior Advocate practicing in the Supreme Court of India (and who was educated in Allahabad, Cambridge and London) explores "the relationship between political and social censorship, and, more significantly, the rise of an insidious communal censorship that seeks to divide civil society and intimidate all those who value the gift of self-expression. They show how the forces of censorship in our society use lumpen power to threaten this gift of free speech as they burn books, silence dissent, destroy works of art, and intimidate the artist, researcher, writer, film-maker, actor and free thinker.

The author reflects on how free speech in India has been compromised by state censorship through 'slapp' suits in court, and on issues of official secrecy, contempt of court, and censorship by intolerance in civil society and government. More specifically, he examines the uses and abuses of the law, the case of harassing Husain, the Danish 'Toon' controversy and the right to strike.

The author argues, unrepentantly, that free speech has to be preserved in the overcrowded spaces of the media, on the streets and in the open spaces of our mind, against the onslaught of corporatism, doubtful governance and invidious divisiveness. Freedom of the mind and the right to self-expression and argument can only survive if intolerance is met with tolerance, and tolerance is not seen as weakness.

In our Essays and Nonfiction Section. And Law. Hardcover, 326 pages, Rs 595. ISBN 9788189487454

The second title is Facets of the Great Revolt: 1857 which is being increasingly recognized as one of the major events of the nineteenth century, a turning point in the history of imperialism. The sheer scale of the uprising and its unique place in the narrative of anti-colonial resistance has prompted it to be interpreted on several occasions in the past – by nationalist leaders, historians and officials – and the literature on 1857 has grown in volume as the country observed its 150th anniversary.

Recently, there has been an increasing awareness of the need to study, in detail, the ideas of the Rebels regarding their own cause, the varied composition of their ranks and the different understandings of their legacy. The essays in this volume have been written essentially in response to this need, by scholars who have sought to explore much hitherto neglected material on that event. Readers will find much that is refreshing and provocative in this volume, and will get glimpses into the minds of the Rebels who belonged to different areas and classes, as well as their organizational capabilities and the problems they confronted during the Great Revolt."

The editor, Shireen Moosvi, is a distinguished historian at the Aligarh Muslim University.

In our History Section. Paperback, 160 pages, Rs 225. ISBN 9788189487447.