Ex-husband’s book on Gauri released

(From left) Vasanthi Hariprakash, Chidanand Rajghatta and Preethi Nagaraj at the  book launch at Higginbothams, MG Road.

Illiberal India: Gauri Lankesh and the Age of Unreason’ by Chidanand Rajghatta, Gauri’s former husband and dear friend, was launched at the Higginbothams bookstore on July 20.

Rajghatta, a Bengaluru-origin journalist now based in the US, took questions from journalists Preethi Nagaraj and Vasanthi Hariprakash at a jam-packed event.

Gauri, editor of the Kannada weekly Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was shot dead on September 5, 2017, as she was about to enter her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar. Police have arrested three men in connection with the murder. The atmosphere heated up when moderator Vasanthi questioned Rajghatta why he was calling India illiberal.

“Whether India is liberal or illiberal depends on where you stand. Many of us are Hindus. The Hindu middle class lives in a certain comfort zone. There is a certain security in the country for majority religions… Illiberalism is relative,” he replied.

 Preethi asked him about Gauri favouring a separate religion status for Lingayatism and minority status for its followers.

“Religion-related bias irritated Gauri. Gauri ended up annoying the powerful Lingayats, the community to which she was born. When it comes to cowardice, you can’t beat an extremist of any religion,” Rajghatta said.

Gauri was sceptical about globalisation, but Rajghatta is convinced it is good. “I may be a little concerned about the speed, but it has indeed benefited everyone,” he said.

Questions started pouring in when Preethi asked, “Was Gauri a target because she was a woman of opinion?”

Rajghatta said, “We are an incredibly misogynistic and patriarchal society. But it is not just India. In the US, five male justices are going to decide about female reproductive rights. That is absurd.”

He hinted Gauri had also upset many men.

“If a woman stands up and expresses herself, there are men who can’t handle it,” he said.

The book Illiberal India: Gauri Lankesh and the Age of Unreason, paints a political portrait of India with Gauri as the main subject. It is priced at Rs 499 and is published by Westland Publications Private Limited.

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Ex-husband’s book on Gauri released

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