Why Schools Shouldn’t Ban Books
September 26, 2018
But was it really about Bal Thackeray’s image or was it more about the Shiv Sena using this as a way to curry favour with local Maharashtrians by making it clear that no one can insult someone they revere, and to protect their projected image of ‘of the locals, for the locals’? Was it a way for Aditya Thackeray to launch himself into the dirty world of Indian politics? While this is speculation, the fact still remains that a beautiful piece of literature became the proverbial sacrificial lamb. Is it fair that students should suffer because of a party’s political ambitions? It isn’t even about a particular book, as many books have fallen under the political hammer, but it is the concept of banning books itself that is incorrect. Books reflect our culture, our society, our history and our people, it is not for a political party to decide what part of our history young minds should be exposed to, and it is the responsibility of educationists to expose students to varying opinions. If you think a book is defamatory, go ahead and sue the author and publisher in the court of law, but don’t resort to hooliganism, and it is beneath an educational body, especially one of Mumbai University’s stature, to agree to the demands.
Furthermore, this book is a brilliant example of how you have to stand up for what is right and lawful, even if you are sympathetic to another cause (Atticus Finch is sympathetic to the cause of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy group). Banning this book is a disservice to American students as you are trying to cover up part of the U.S.’ past and preventing them from reading a truly remarkable piece of literature.
Furthermore, you may notice, in India, it is primarily books about Hinduism or Islam that get banned- not those that are to do with Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, or Zoroastrianism. It is not that only followers of Hinduism or Islam get offended, it is simply that these two religions form the majority of our population and thereby also the majority of people who vote. It wouldn’t serve a political party any purpose to stand up and fight for the ‘cause’ of Parsis as the total number of voting Parsis is negligible. So while Harry Potter may be banned in certain schools in the U.S. as it can be perceived as anti-Christian, no one would bother banning it in India as there aren’t enough Christians to make a difference to any political party. Now, imagine if a young impressionable mind reads books where Christians or Parsis are shown doing immoral, unethical, incorrect things, but are never exposed to books where Hindus or Muslims are doing it (because such books are often banned), won’t their views end up being biased or prejudiced?
As a young boy, Nirbhay had the annoying habit of waking up at 5 a.m. Since television was a big no-no, he had no choice but to read to entertain himself and that is how his love affair with books began. A true-blue Piscean, books paved the path to his fantasy worlds- worlds he’d often rather stay in. Nirbhay is the co-founder and publisher of The Curious Reader.
You can read his articles, here.