New Delhi: A statement about corruption and SC-STs and OBCs made at a literary festival some 250 km from Delhi is attracting more and more political rhetoric, with politicians jumping the Ashis Nandy bandwagon, seeking punishment for the renowned sociologist. First BSP supremo Mayawati sought his arrest. Then the SC/ST commission on Monday sent a notice to the Rajasthan government, questioning the delay in arresting him, while Speaker Meira Kumar said even slavery was preferable, given that slaves could get freedom.
Nandy, however, stuck to his stand, saying his comments were misunderstood and taken out of context. In Jaipur, the police moved to question the organisers of the Jaipur Literature Festival, even as some prominent Dalit activists took a conciliatory stand. Kancha Ilaiah said, "Ashis Nandy's statement was bad but with a good intention. However, as he is not against reservation, the controversy should end here.
Nandy has been charged under the SC/ST Act, which says that anyone found guilty of intentionally insulting or intimidating a member of the SC-ST community may be jailed for up to five years.
To Nandy's academic colleagues and those familiar with his work, the FIR against him is a rather a silly response to what was essentially a nuanced statement on the sociology of corruption. Scholars argue if the possibility of a complex debate is soon vanishing in Ambedkar's idea of a tolerant India.