Razia Shahab for BeyondHeadlines
A book entitled “The Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India” written by UK journalist Joseph Lelliweld remained a subject of discussion in the Hindi media throughout the week. Columnists and editors of different leading Hindi dailies have expressed their views on this topic. The titles of the published columns and editorials are different but the ideas are almost similar. Experts of the Hindi media are looking this issue as a publicity stunt. The editorial of widely circulated Hindi daily Nav Bharat Times says, “After almost every year or two, a book gets published in the United States and Europe on Mahatma Gandhi with sensationalistic issues, and it becomes a good source of earning and publicity for the publishers.”
The editor further adds, “Although the author has consistently denied claims that his book portrays Gandhi as a bisexual or a racist, this also might be an attempt aimed at getting popularity and increasing the sell of the book.”
Pulitzer Prize winner Joseph Lelliweld is not a well-known personality in India. He was a foreign correspondent of the New York Times in New Delhi during 1960 to 1970. Experts believe that the controversy on the book can give Lelliweld a new identity in India as well as in Europe.
Senior journalist Priyadarshan writes in his article entitled “Gandhi Ka Kaun Kya Bigadega (Who will dare to tame Gandhi?)” published in a leading Hindi daily Dainik Bhasker, “Lelliweld was a little known journalist in India but suddenly, his book on Gandhi has given him a wide identity.”
People have faith and great respect for Gandhi, and they are demanding that the book should be banned. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is the first to raise this this demand.
On this, Priyadarshan writes, “It is my long experience that the books people demand to ban get more and more publicity. He gives the example of Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” and Tasleema NAsreen’s “Lajja.”
But there are some experts who think that the media specially the new media is inflating this issue. They have wrongly explained the terms used in book. The editorial of the one of the prominent Hindi daily Amar Ujala writes,”It is not appropriate to say that this is an attempt to defame Mahatma Gandhi,” but some media organizations along with the Daily Mail have derangement in their explanations. They had tried to prove Gandhi as homosexual and racist.
On March 30, another Hindi daily Nai Duniya writes in its editorial, “A small part of the UK media always tries to defame Gandhiji but the more panic is that a small segment of the Indian media, specially new media, puts it to the Indian as it is. The editor adds, “The detractors of Mahatma Gandhi should think that the title of the book ‘Great Soul’ clearly defines his image of Mahatma. The book is actually tries to explain the complexities of the personality of Mahatma Gandhi. Putting blame on Gandhiji on the basis of such a book is a crime.”