Just following up on Shreyasi’s post on our best-known painter. In my opinion, the Manmohan Singh government has blundered on a point where it was least expected to. The reports of M F Hussain accepting the offer of honorary citizenship from Qatar, in the face of his persecution from right-wing fundamentalist forces like the Shiv Sena, should be viewed as a shocker by the government.
It is indeed strange and beyond comprehension that Hussain is handed out ‘fatwas’ by the Hindu outfits for focusing on the boobs, thighs and buttocks of Hindu goddesses. One wonders what these Hindu Taliban forces would have done if the 4th century Sanskrit literature doyen Kalidasa were alive and writing today, because Kalidasa had given elaborate and juicy descriptions of the curves and curls of Hindu goddesses in his plays. The behavior of these fanatics is all the more questionable in view of the fact that the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in 2008 had quashed some of the obscenity cases against Hussain.
The Indian art and iconography has the millennia-old tradition of being liberal. Hussain’s persecution makes the situation all the more absurd and inexplicable where the Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, fleeing from persecution in her own country, is allowed a form of refuge in India, while MF Hussain is hounded out. First of all, the Government of India must create conditions for the immediate return of Hussain to his homeland. He is a role model for younger generations with stars in their eyes, as he rose to fame after starting his career as painter of Hindi films in the sixties and seventies. If nothing else, the government must use this instance to re-examine the grounds for disallowing dual citizenship.