A meditation on the plight of MF Husain

by Ritwik on June 10, 2011

The following is written by Dilip Simeon – Ritwik


NB: This is extracted from a thread on my Wall. It is an immediate and emotional reaction to an ongoing tragedy. I am overwhelmed with grief and anger at what has happened, and am expressing that here. It was written in response to a friends’ remark that our government wears secularism on its sleeve, but was unable to bring MF back home with security.

Can we please remove the meal from our mouths now?

Our great secularists have always found it possible to keel over when it comes to confronting fascism. Sadly that’s equally true of Very Revolutionary people. The fact remains that the Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal etc hounded MF Husain out of his country in his old age. And the government plus the judiciary, despite a Delhi HC order 3 years ago (Justice S K Kaul) saying MF deserved to be back & painting in his home, hadn’t the noodles to dismiss all the trumped up cases. Now everyone including the goondas will talk about ‘the Indian Picasso’. We’re a world-class power after all. We must never lose an opportunity to take credit for those of us who are globally known. Even if we hate their guts.

After all this there are many of us who still believe the RSS in power wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

All of us are at fault for giving in to intimidation in the name of pragmatic governance. I have a deep sense of being personally aggrieved at MF’s plight. It’s re-opened old wounds. I was hounded out of my college in the mid 90’s by my own colleagues in the institution for which I had worked so hard. The ones who wanted me out are the same bunch of patriots.

But no one is guiltless in all this. Taslima was forced out of Bangladesh, then forced out of Kolkata by Muslim fanatics given free rein by the Left Front. The heroes of police action in Nandigram didn’t have the guts to take police action against fascists in their capital city. Some years ago a set of sex-obsessed goons began campaigning against Valentines’ Day and womens lingerie. If Islam and Hinduism need their ‘honour’ defended by mentally retarded hooligans & via the burning of books and underwear, then the followers of these great traditions ought to hang their heads in shame. Or consign their so-called religious beliefs to the dustbin. Why don’t they speak up and tell the gangsters to go to hell? Why are we always differentiating between ‘our scoundrels’ & ‘their scoundrels’? Why can’t we stop being defensive and call a spade a spade? We are all complicit in permitting this state of affairs.

One the one hand the ultra-patriots complain that the minorities don’t integrate, and when one of them appears so steeped in Hindu culture and tradition that it becomes his very muse, they vandalise his home and his art! Here’s Pritish Nandy’s article He  was as Hindu as any one of ushttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/M-F-Husain-was-as-hindu-as-any-one-of-us/articleshow/8794586.cms

(Indeed, Pritish! You could have told your party boss Thackeray that, who famously said “if Husain can enter Hinduism, why can’t we enter his house?’ – Nandy joined the Rajya Sabha as member for the Shiv Sena in 1998)

What do they want? All non-Hindus to either shoot themselves or lick the RSS boots every day to get a certificate of patriotism? It’s clear as daylight that the only ‘objectionable’ thing the fascists gleefully fastened on to was the name ‘Husain’. Had the same stuff been painted by a Dixit or a Joshi, they would have strutted about with pride. This is where we are today, at the mercy of outright lumpens, who enjoy the status of respectability.

If the government of India offer MF’s dead body a Bharat Ratna, I would urge his family to tell them to put it where the sun don’t shine. Or, what amounts to the same thing, give it to Bal Thackeray and Togadia for so valiantly defending Hinduism, by forcing an old man – India’s Picasso, no less – to die in exile. Bury him in Hampstead Heath. There’s more peace, and maybe less chance of some NRI ultra-patriots vandalising his grave.

RIP Maqbool Fida. We didn’t deserve you


Also read : ‘A Casualty of his one painting’ Manoj Mitta


Husain’s greatest muse was India & its folklore – Gayatri Sinha


Intolerance, a story too familiar with Indian art – Srijana Mitra Das




[…] It deserves publication, verbatim: The original is posted here. […]

by World Art Resources » Blog Archive » Reaction in India to the Death of Maqbool Fida: RIP Maqbool Fida, We didn’t deserve you on June 10, 2011 at 10:28 pm. #

Well my brother, I support you till you continue to wage Jihad against those who hurt others. You rightly persuaded saffrons not to hurt, but your tone was a little harsher. I come from a Muslim setting but disagree to how Husain defined the boundaries. He paid as much price as were his excesses, and when he said he didn’t want to hurt any religion, he realized his errors. It would also be wrong however to think that because of his errors Hindu-Muslim heat is fueled too much. Thanx

by Udgiri on June 11, 2011 at 12:19 am. #

Thanks for your comment on my blog, Ritwik. I’m posting a copy of my response (also on my blog) here.

My views haven’t changed. I think everyone can agree that for an artist to suffer exile, albeit with the material comfort MF was able to afford himself, is a step backwards. Art is about free expression. Not just pretty wall hangings and comfortably appreciating assets. We all, I hope, agree on that.

My comment is meant in a wider, sociological context. I’ve visited India on numerous occasions for a variety of cultural and business reasons and can only expound my views formed by my direct experience of the country, whether talking to a “coolie” in the market or drinking gin and tonics and playing snooker at home with your contemporaries.

The majority of the Indian population do not share in the Indian economic “miracle”. Yes, the new middle classes now have their attention diverted towards “cheap romance” and “consumerism” in the malls of Gurgaon (rhymes with Slough, in an ironic, Betjemenesque twist). It diverts attention from anything controversial – many contemporary “Tiger” Asian and western societies bear witness on that score.

The rest of your countrymen – the majority – have only religion to cling to, to fill the void that has not been filled by any meaningful engagement with the new Indian obligarchy (any more than it was by the old, when the Mahorajahs and Colenel Blimps were pulling the strings). But that was before a popular press, the internet and rudimentary, albeit arguably – at best – only adequate, literacy.

So I stand by my point. It’s mindless religious fanaticism, whipped up by wannabe power brokers only to eager to exploit the vacuum of social and political disenfranchisement of a majority of your countrymen that presented the price, reckoning and final invoice for MQ to pay. I wish it were different and I’m sure, from reading your blog, you do too.

I meant no disrespect, I apologise if that’s the way you read my comments.

by Sean on June 16, 2011 at 11:44 pm. #

[…] of a lot of people and eventually reducing democracy and freedoms to a sham. We cannot have another MF Hussain. All this dogma and conservatism and theistic upholding of “Indian Culture” is only […]

by Zinda rehti hai unki *beep* « Speak Too Much? on August 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm. #

ritwik,whyMF choose hindu god?he was not compareable with picasso.he was dirty minded artist knows that in india
he can do any thing against hindus ,no gov take no action against him.

by bhanu pratap on May 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm. #

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