British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor has alleged that the India Today magazine decided to junk his interview after he refused to remove or tone down his views on Indian society and politics. “If our journals of note are afraid, if we must censor ourselves out of fear, we are lost,” he said.
In an in the Wire, the artist said that he was sent questions on June 30 about his ongoing exhibitions in Venice – at – by a reporter freelancing for the magazine.
“I answered these questions in good faith, trusting that India Today would honour its mission to bring news and views – cultural and political – to its readers,” Kapoor wrote. “However, the India Today editor conveyed to me that the magazine would not publish the interview unless I removed or radically toned down my answer to the last question (asked by their journalist) which sought my views on Indian society and politics today. I refused to either tone down or remove my answer.”
He added, “I am horrified and saddened that an overwhelming culture of fear holds even our press in India in silence. If our journals of note are afraid, if we must censor ourselves out of fear, we are lost. This is the route to fascism and we are allowing ourselves to be manipulated by fear and unlawful terror perpetrated on journalists, editors and commentators by the goons who act in the name of so-called government.”
Thanking the Wire for publishing “what ought to be perfectly ordinary, uncontroversial views in a healthy discourse about culture and politics”, Kapoor answers what appears to be the question that prompted the decision to junk the India Today interview.
“Moving away from art, you have been a vociferous critic of the right-wing, especially India’s Modi government. What’s your view of Indian society and politics today?”
Kapoor responds, “India is in a desperate place. My beloved country has allowed itself to be beguiled by what I call the Hindu Taliban. Modi’s vile extreme right wing politics is a patriarchal monoculture of hate and is in contempt of the very things that were once the essence of our Indian spirit – tolerance and respect for all irrespective of origin, race or creed. Our utter disregard for the millions who live in concentration camp poverty in our midst is a crime of shameful arrogance. We will be damned for this.”
“Like all right-wing patriarchal governments, these parochial idiots have great fear of culture and the freedom of spirit it spreads. If politics is lost, culture must push forward its innovative possibilities. This is not allowed by right-wing government, and they make sure we are afraid. I say to my colleagues – to censor yourself is to give in to their hegemony. Shout at injustice. Make it clear that corrupt bigotry is not our way. Not the Indian way. Only us, the citizens, can change this.”
Newslaundry reached out to an India Today spokesperson for a response. This report will be updated if we receive one.
Update on July 25
In a , India Today's group editorial director Raj Chengappa said Kapoor had "levelled unfounded allegations against our publication and its principles".
Chengappa said the magazine "did not ask him to change the content of his answers but to shorten them as he deemed fit to adhere to the word limit". He also said that at no point did the magazine threaten to not publish the interview.
"Our concerns arose only from space constraints apart from his somewhat high-handed ultimatum demanding that the unwieldy sermon be carried in its entirety while threatening us with consequences if we did not comply."
Chengappa alleged Kapoor had then "followed through" with these consequences "in an apparent fit of pique".
The Wire contacted Kapoor as well for a response. Kapoor said he has "clear email exchanges with your correspondent in which I was expressly asked to drop my political discourse even though this was a question put to me by your journalist". He labelled Chengappa's "excuses" on space constraints as a "pathetic smoke screen".
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