BBC ban n’ barbed barriers . . !



MANY, many decades ago, when I was around twelve, a cousin of mine, a medical student from the prestigious medical college in Vellore, presented me with, “An Area of Darkness” by Naipaul! I read it and a little later found that the book had been banned by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

My twelve-year old mind wondered, “What’s in the ban?” Today, I’m no more that twelve-year old, but as the BBC documentary goes back to that same old practice, “I ask myself the same question, “Why the ban?” A ban by my government tells me I am not mature enough to make up my mind whether what I read or see is the truth or not!

It’s telling the people that though they have had more than eighty years of freedom, that still in those eighty years they have not received the kind of education in which they are educated!

“Whoa! Whoa! That’s harsh!” you say. “Yes, you may have a Ph.d, may have scored 100% in your high school, and college, but you are not educated!” “No, you are not! You are not! You are not!”

And that’s what is being shouted to thirteen billion who’ve been banned from viewing a film. Not just the film! It started with laws telling you, you are not wise enough to choose your religion. Laws that say, you ‘educated’ women need to be safe guarded against love warriors, and more and more rules telling us, “You are not mature to make decisions!”

“Well, then if you feel we are not mature, Sir Government Man, then make us mature!” The one and only way to stop a person from drowning is to teach him or her swimming, and the only way you can learn swimming is in a swimming pool or sea. Which means to learn, I need to jump in the water.

But it makes no sense to prevent drowning, by putting barbed wire around beaches, lakes and swimming pools, or does it? Because ‘banning’ is the ‘barbed barrier’ being used. Students in TISS and elsewhere are not clandestinely viewing the BBC documentary, because they have any dislike for the PM, but in protest about being treated like uneducated little children!

“We are not children!” shouts the nation, “Let us see the documentary, and with educated minds assess if the BBC has been harsh, biased or has a colonial mind-set!” Maybe there will be millions who will shout, “Leave our PM alone!” whereas now they look at the sea and lakes with barbed barriers round it, and are filled with longing to just jump in, whether they know swimming or not! Teach them to swim; take off the barriers, lift such bans..!