M F Hussain Cleared of Obscenity Charges - A Question of Dignity

September 09, 2008
Abhinandan Mishra

“Bharat Mata-a work of art: SC” screamed today’s The Times of India. A Supreme Court bench yesterday refused to entertain a petition in which the petitioners had pleaded the Supreme Court to initiate proceedings against M F Hussain for depicting a nude woman as Mother India.

Supporters of the artist have time and again evoked the freedom available under the right of freedom of expression as enshrined under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution to justify the works of Hussain. Is this the purpose of right to freedom of expression? To offer immunity to work of art that shows a woman who is in nude as Mother India? If yes, then for me this is nothing but a gross violation for which the above said article was added into the constitution.

M F Hussain while commenting on the Supreme Court judgment applauded the decision and said ‘At last they (Supreme Court) have understood the ‘dignity’ of contemporary Indian art. Dignity? Whose dignity? Does the dignity of Indian art is upheld by depicting India in nudes? I don’t know how many of us would like to practice this definition of dignity as stated by the artist in our personal life. Will the artist himself practice what he preaches? I doubt it.

Imagine a scenario where an artist from European country paints a picture in which he depicts an Indian without clothes and in tatters. How would we react? More specifically how would the ‘liberal intelligentsia’ which till date have not condemned Hussian’s work of art, react?

Nationalism, love for one's country, is not defined anywhere nor can it be forced on anyone. But I am sure that the definition doesn’t say that not getting offended by paintings that depicts the nation in nude is one of the essences of showing respect towards your motherland. Have I stated something that is too lowly or rural for the ‘intellectuals’ to understand?

Ancient temples that have been for long used to justify any work of offensive art have been reduced to just mere examples. The sculptures of nude king and queens are frequently equated with religious sculptures. How much is this justified is a question that needs to be dwelt on much.

Earlier the same artist had depicted Hindu goddess in forms that are undignified by even the narrowest stretch of imagination.

Those who raised their voice against it were called ‘Right wing individuals’. Agreed that the violent way in which they protested was condemnable but what about the work of Hussain that incited the reaction? Is that not condemnable? The price of being the majority population cannot be so much.

If the same artist had painted religious pictures of other religion, he would have been running from one county to another for asylum, but for Hinduism. For Hinduism embraces everyone and ‘everything’ with open arms. Some section of the ‘learned’ feel that it’s imperative for this religion to not be offended and to smilingly embrace the dignity stated by Hussain. Is the Hindu god-goddess and mother India ‘children of the lesser gods’?

The more I force myself for searching reasons to look at Hussian’s work rationally, the more I feel that our Constitution has been taken for a ride. The fact that the Constitution also prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion has been conveniently forgotten.

Majority, like the minority, too value their religion. Just being numerically strong doesn’t mean that a particular religion cannot get offended by offensive things. We cannot have a double standard for deciding the dignity of the majority and the minority.

Where are the classes of the intellectuals that throng the street on the slightest pretext? Do they only represent those who are less in number? What about those who are humiliated because they are more? Who will speak for them? Artist like Hussain or the activists like Babu Bajrangis? Sadly both of them are the extremes and the middle path has been hijacked by the ‘Liberal –intelligent-class’ that are not only believer but also practitioner of double standards.

The time has come to follow secularism not just in the minority spirit but also in a spirit that was the force behind drafting the word secular in our constitution.

A nation of hypocrites we are speaking only when the situation is favorable, let’s stop our tread for a minute and question ourselves. Questions which are not that hard to answer.

A law graduate from NLIU, Bhopal.Worked for 2 years as a journalist in media organizations like Qatar Tribune, PTI and UNI. Now more of just 'a writer' rather than a 'paid' writer.
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M F Hussain Cleared of Obscenity Charges - A Question of Dignity


Author: Abhinandan Mishra


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September 9, 2008
10:18 PM

'If the same artist had painted religious pictures of other religion, he would have been running from one county to another for asylum, but for Hinduism.'

You are absolutely right. No one's freedom should be subjected to that kind of harassment. That is a disgraceful behaviour by followers of any religion. The law that gives Hussain his freedom to paint what he wants to must also make sure that he can live without harassmnent.

I agree with you that in India all are not treated equally. I find nothing wrong with that decision. But hindus seem to be much more sensitive to the feeling of minorities than of their own which is a kind of discrimination in reverse. In India did any newspaper or for that matter any media publish Mohamed's cartoons? I am not aware of that. May be no one had courage to do so or may be they do not wish to hirt the feeling of muslims.

'Is the Hindu god-goddess and mother India 'children of the lesser gods'?'

Not lesser, greater gods. When your gods are great they don't get abused so easily. Two wrongs do not make it right. This decision is correct but minorities should not be teated with kid glove.

September 10, 2008
02:40 PM

This guy MF Hussain is basically a shameless creature.

Can someone please find me his reaction on Mohammad cartoons? I am SURE he would have gone to his roof top and screamed in Dubai - where he was living - that it was a "piece of art" and was vehemently in support of the Danish cartoonist!?

Wasn't his silence rather deafening?

We all know what his intentions are and how shallow his artistic honesty is! Right?

And I have not even started talking about those idiots called Arundhati Roy and Teesta and their reactions!

September 10, 2008
08:41 PM


""And I have not even started talking about those idiots called Arundhati Roy and Teesta and their reactions!""

This is as good a time as any to start talking about them too.

September 13, 2008
04:52 AM

'Tharki' Hussein immediately withdrew his movie from the theatres,when a mullah objects to some 'words' used in his movie!!There was not a single protest from the 'tharki' nor from the professional protestors like Nandita Das,Shabana Azmi,Suzanne Roy,Ram Guha,Rahul Bose,Mahesh Bhatt etc.So let's not talk about the rule of law and fairness of the Indian 'civil society'.We have different sets of rules for the Hindus and for the followers of the 'religion of peace '.

September 13, 2008
07:51 AM

""tharki""?? meaning?

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