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13 August 2012

Ban on Myrdal’s India Visit Undemocratic

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The alleged ban by the government on world-renowned Swedish writer Jan Myrdal to visit India is shocking. The official version is that Myrdal is a Maoist supporter and he had indulged in anti-state activity and that is the reason a ban on his future visit is being contemplated.

The 85 year old writer denied this allegation saying he is not so stupid, and has called the move against him as anti-Indian. The extreme left see this as India’s attempt to toe the US line that has imposed a stringent regulations on Myrdal to enter America.

Jan Myrdal is son of Nobel Laureates Gunnar Myrdal of ‘Asian Drama’ fame. Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi very often used to quote the books of Gunnar Myrdal, specially his famous observations on corruption in India. Jan’s mother Alva Myrdal was Sweden’s Ambassador to India from 1955 to 1961. The Indian government had felicitated the couple with the Jawaharlal Nehru International Understanding Award.

Jan Myrdal has authored several books that include 'Report from a Chinese village', 'China: The Revolution Continued', 'Confessions of a Disloyal European' and 'India Waits.' The last one is based on his tour of Andhra Pradesh in the early 1980s, where he mentions that a Marxian-inspired peoples' movement, emanating from rural India, parallel to the Chinese Communist revolution is awaiting in India.

His book “Red Star over India” has been widely received in India. This book has now reached its second English language edition and is being published in Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. In Europe it has been translated to German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish. It is available as an e-book and on the net.

The Sweden-based author was in India in January-February, 2012 for the promotion of his book “Red Star over India” and had visited Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ludhiana and Delhi and shared his views with writers, democrats, students and journalists.

The Home Ministry however has found that Myrdal had attended pro-Naxal conventions and allegedly expressed support to the CPI (Maoist) ideology of armed struggle against the state, a charge vehemently denied by the author.

Myrdal has reportedly rebutted the allegation saying he was on a one month conference visa to re launch his book "Red Star Over India - Impressions, Reflexions and Discussions when the Wretched of the Earth are Rising." The government was well informed about his movements and his speeches are in public domain either printed or is available on the net. 

The author said he did not do anything stupid like giving political "advice" to the Indian friends and the decision to ban him from entering in the country was an anti-Indian act. He requested the official to withdraw the decision if it’s already been taken.

It is well known that Jan Myrdal is a follower of MoaSaTung’s ideology. In India the CPI (Moaist) are inspired by his writings. He has visited India several times and has extensively toured the country. He knows the Indian reality at the grassroots. But, then that’s it, there are so many foreign intellectual, too may have similar understanding. What does it really mean?

There are certain questions that seek answers? Will the ban on Myrdal solve the Maoist problem in India? Will his visit intensify the Maoist struggle in the country? Can’t his visit be converted as an exercise in exchange of ideas and the government has benefit from his advice? In fact after 'India Waits,' Indira Gandhi has asked him to come and discuss the issue of left rebellion with her but the ‘mother India’ met an untimely death. 

Now the ‘Sons of India’ who are killing its own people, under operation ‘Green Hunt’ think they can solve the problem by doing so and anyone who opposes such brutal designs has to be kept off. 

It is in this connection that a person of the stature of Jan Myrdal is being ban from visiting the country. This is a clear indication how much Indian has changed in its character and ideology over a period of time.

The Indian government that is giving red carpet welcome, to MNCs and big bourgeoisie to indiscriminately loot the most valuable riches of the country and is being intolerant towards those who are opposing them with genuine democratic and progressive views.

The Indian government is inviting international big corporate like Enron, Dow Chemicals, POSCO, Monsanto, Vedanta and Areva and so many others. It is hugely supporting Jindal, Mittal, Esssar, Tata and Ambani that are colluding with these MNCs and serving them.

On the other hand the Adivasis who are fighting a life and death struggle to preserve the most valuable lands, forests, hills, waters, minerals and all kinds of other natural resources in the vast areas of the country from their exploitation are being hunted down under the operation ‘Green Hunt’. It shows how far Indian state that rest on the word ‘socialism’ enshrined in our constitution is moving away from its own code of commandments. 

It is not new for the ruling classes of this country to deal with artistes, writers, journalists, film producers and directors in such a manner. There are several writers and democrats who have been implicated in countless conspiracy cases in our country.

On July 1, 2010 a Delhi based journalist Hem Chandra Pandey was shot dead in a fake encounter by the Andhra Pradesh police. Artiste Jeeten Marandi was sentenced to death by a court of law but later the judgment was withdrawn due to popular pressure. Well-known writer Arundhati Roy was sentenced to jail for supporting the cause of the Kashmir people.
Recently the Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee got Professor Abhishek Mahapatra arrested with the ire that he drew a cartoon on her. The Jadavpur University students, who questioned this, were harassed in the name of being Maoists.

The stand taken by the Indian government to stop Jan Myrdal from coming to our country is shameful indeed. All democrats, writers, artistes, students, journalists and people from all walks of life should condemn such tyrannical decision. The need is to build a broad and strong solidarity movement that would make the government revoke its proposal to ban Jan Myrdal from visiting to India.

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

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