It’s not about Rushdie. It’s not about religion. And it’s definitely not about a book few people in India have read.
Beyond the symmetry inherent in an event that began with the government managing to persuade author Salman Rushdie to stay away from the Jaipur Literature Festival and ended with a planned video conference with the author being called off after hardline Muslim groups decided to flashmob the venue is a worrying trend. Not just is the Indian state keen to curtail freedom of expression—as evidentin efforts to muzzle the Internet—but it is also happy to pander to zealots, bigots, the paid hirelings of political parties and just about anyone opposed to any form of free expression, and eager to express that opposition using non-verbal means. It’s winter in Rajasthan, where the literary festival is being held, but, for some reason, the thermometer reads Fahrenheit 451