Furore in Lit Fest over comments on SC/ST
FIR against Ashis Nandy for remarks on corruption
A First Information Report (FIR) was on Saturday registered against cultural and political critic Ashis Nandy and some organisers of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival for his alleged offensive remarks against Dalits and other backward castes.
One Rajpal Meena filed the FIR at the Ashok Nagar police station against Nandy under Section 506 of IPC and Section 3/10 of the SC/ST Act. The sociologist and political psychologist could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted. Event producer Sanjoy Roy is also made a co- accused in the case.
The Jaipur Literature Festival on the third day witnessed a furore when Ashis Nandy commented that the most corrupt people come from the SC/ST and OBCs eliciting strong reactions from the leaders of the community.
He made the statement while participating at a panel discussion titled “Republic of Ideas” attend by Partick French, Tarun Tejpal, journalist Ashutosh and Richard Sorabji. The audience took strong exception to the statement.
“The Brahmins and the upper castes get away with corruption but when a low caste person emulates the same thing it becomes so wrong,” said Nandy.After his comments caused a furore, Nandy issued a clarification saying he was trying to make the point that corruption among Dalits is noticeable while that of the rich is not.
"Most of the people who are indulging in corruption seem to be from the people belonging to OBC, SC and ST communities and as long as it remains as a balancing force, the Indian republic will survive," Nandy said. However, the audience seems to be in disagreement with him as the audience reacted with boos.
His statement created strong reaction from the leaders of ST and OBC groups.
Independent MP Kirorilal Meena and Rajasthan Jat Mahasabha president Rajaram Meel reached the venue protesting against the statement made by Nandy after TV channels flashed the news. They staged dharna outside the venue demanding his arrest. Finally the organisers came out with a statement to clear the misunderstanding and also tendered an apology.
The statement by Nandy said: “I endorsed the statement of Tarun Tejpal, Editor of Tehelka, that corruption in India is an equalising force. I do believe that a zero corruption society in India will be a despotic society”.
Nandy also said he was trying to bring home the point that “If people like me or Richard Sorabji want to be corrupt, I shall possibly send his son to Harvard University giving him a fellowship and he can send my daughter to Oxford.
“No one will think it to be corruption. Indeed, it will look like supporting talent. But when Dalits, tribals and the OBCs are corrupt, it looks very corrupt indeed,” he said
“However, this second corruption equalises. It gives them access to their entitlements. And so, as long as this equation persists, I have hope for the republic,” he added
Commenting on the controversy, he said: “I am sorry if some have misunderstood me.
Though there was no reason to do so. As should be clear from this statement, there was neither any intention nor any attempt to hurt any community. If anyone is genuinely hurt, even if through misunderstanding, I am sorry about that, too.”
He hoped that his statement would put to rest all controversy which put the organisers on the back foot.