India has a huge pool of authors contributing to the country’s literature but it needs to learn how to protect them and their work from attack by vociferous forces, veteran journalist and author Mark Tully has said.
"In Britain or in US any author can say ten different things positive or negative about Jesus Christ without raising eyebrows or impacting the glory of Jesus, but the same can’t happen in India. People take things too personally and the law lets them do so," Tully told PTI in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.
Tully, who has covered India for over 30 years for the BBC had also expressed his concerns about Freedom of Expression during a session on the inaugural day of the Festival.
"In India anyone who doesn’t like a book or a particular text has all the rights to take it to streets, burn the books, attack the authors and much more. Unfortunately, the law also calls for a ban on such texts and doesn’t protect the authors, that’s where India needs to learn from Britain" he said.
"Lots and lots of Indians do adopt that attitude of the Britain’s population of letting the criticism remain just a matter of opinion but the problem is that small groups of people take it upon themselves and become the judges of the situation and insist that a particular book is offensive to our religion, their sexuality or ethnicity. Then they are allowed to do things which are illegal," added Tully.
The 80-year-old journalist, believes that the line between ‘genuine criticism’ and ‘insulting criticism’ is not defined in India.
"It’s sad but the government and courts defend the people who are raising complaints about books. They don’t defend the rights of the writer. All the laws are on side of the people who wish to protest…that’s the trouble and that?s where I think problem exactly lies," Tully said.
"If you take the recent case of Tamil writer Murugan which is on every intellectual’s mind when it comes to a debate on freedom of expression. It was the duty of the authorities to give him the protection which was needed rather than harassing him or bullying him the way he was," he added. .