Delhi judge backs MF Husain, says “ignorant people vandalise art”
The Delhi High Court issued a strong judgement on Thursday in support of one of India’s leading painters MF Husain, who has been forced into exile after a painting of Mother India as a naked woman was accused of hurting religious sentiments.
“It is most unfortunate that India’s new ‘puritanism’ is being carried out in the name of cultural purity and ignorant people vandalise art,” the Times of India quoted him as saying.
The high court found nothing wrong in Husain’s work and said art, both ancient and modern, had always used nudity.
“We have been called the land of Karma Sutra then why is it that in this land we shy away from its very name,” he said.
“Ancient art has never been devoid of eroticism where sex worship and representation of the union between man and woman has been a recurring feature.”
It remains to be seen if the 90-year-old Husain will ever return home, but Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen decided enough was enough earlier this year and decided to leave India.
Last year the Economic Times said the Indian government had not done enough to defend Nasreen because it was “afraid of offending the Islamist street”.
When we reported this issue last year, a leading sociologist told us lopsided economic growth had created a disposed population which could not relate to Western cultural values and norms.
And the Bharatiya Janata Party said the West was fighting psychological warfare to influence youth, and said it was saving the country from cultural anarchy.
So did Justice Kaul get it right? Is freedom of speech and expression under threat in India from the religious right, whether Hindu or Muslim?
Or is a rich, liberal elite out of touch with the valid religious sentiments of hundreds of millions of Indians?