CBFC Censorship of “The Argumentative Indian”: Statement from SAHMAT
“Free speech and debate are at risk…”
July 13, 2017
13 July 2017
We are shocked and angered by the recent Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) demand that certain words be excised from a film based on the work of the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen. The movie is titled after Sen’s 2005 work, The Argumentative Indian, which was widely acknowledged for its deep and authentic explorations of India’s traditions of public debate.
The CBFC has reportedly demanded that certain words used by Sen and other scholars and public intellectuals interviewed in the film should be bleeped out if it is to be granted certification for public exhibition. These words include “cow”, “Hindutva view of India”, “Hindu India” and “Gujarat”. The CBFC’s exertions under its current chair have long crossed the line from farce to tragedy. Occasional efforts to bring it to its senses, such as the stern judicial reprimand handed down in the Udta Punjab case, seem to have no more than transient effect. With its diktat on The Argumentative Indian, the CBFC shows yet again that its anxiety to protect the sensitivities of the political regime, overwhelm any manner of commitment to the Constitution and the law. At risk in this plunge into absurdity, are our most valuable traditions of free speech and debate.
Amiya Kumar Bagchi
D. N. Jha
Ashok Nath Basu
Vishwa Mohan Jha
Iqtidar Alam Khan
Indira Arjun Dev
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