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'Padmaavat' controversy strikes at the root of democracy.

By Marwan Asmar, Special to Gulf News,Thinker

The roiling controversy regarding a Bollywood movie, Padmaavat , that has gripped India for the past few months, necessitates a soul-searching on what the macro narrative of the world's largest democracy is signalling - not only to the people of India, but also to the world at large. The movie's claim to fame has gone far beyond its story that is based on a chapter of history during the 13th-14th century India, involving a Hindu king, his wife and a Muslim conqueror who covets her. It has in fact brought to the fore, once again in recent times, the disturbingly intolerant ideological streak that seems to be cutting a large swathe in India. Complex issues have raised their ugly heads as a result, the most alarming of them being the floundering state of the freedom of expression in India, the growing unapologetic stridency for revisionist history, born out of communal agendas, and the lack of volition by the government to determinedly push back the vituperative tide.

The veracity of history is to be respected as a pure strain of academic record, but to use it in duplicitous ways as a tool to subvert and malign a civilisational legacy is to undermine and damage the diversity of India that is a spectacular amalgam of centuries of varied influences. The motley political affiliations, their specious arguments and the violence ascribed to the movie's purported distortion of facts is, ironically, the most untenable distortion in itself. It strains credulity that many of these people admit to have not even seen the movie before having embarked on their riotous mission.

They are doing democracy, and India, which are inextricably linked, no favours.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 26, 2018
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