Is the pen mightier than the sword?

Things were normal till his eldest son Sohrab refuses to attend the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology to which he has gained admission and his youngest daughter, Roshan, falls sick. Then the house falls prey to the usual pulls and pushes of life.

“SUCH A Long Journey” has  the city of Bombay in its background and begins in 1971. The novel’s protagonist is a hard-working bank clerk Gustad Noble. He is a member of the Parsi community and a devoted family man. He struggles to shield his wife Dilnavaz and three children from privations and poverty.

Things were normal till his eldest son Sohrab refused to attend the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology to which he had gained admission and his youngest daughter, Roshan, falls ill. And then the house falls victim of pulls and pushes of  life realities. Usual conflicts with his eccentric neighbors and his close friend  co-worker in Dinshawji’s life take the remaining space.

The book is based on an actual event : “the Nagarwala case”. It also gives glimpses of Pakistani torture during the separation with Bangladesh.

“Such a Long Journey” was prescribed for second year B.A. (English) in 2007 – 08. Needless to say that the book was recommended by University Board of Studies. And now we have had another story that is still in the crucible. The University administration had decided to withdraw it by September 15 !

Reason : As if the country was on short supply of Senas, the young scion Aditya Thackrey is coming with “Youa Sena”. It is well known that Thackrey Family is presently suffering from the loss of power and internecine conflicts within the family.

It needed a plank to catapult the boy to limelight as his father lacks carijma and grand father is in his twilight. His uncle is building his own empire away from them.

Naturally, like a barber’s son who is trained initially in his art on some innocent, indefensible customers, they needed some easy prey to make the Tamasha. And they have found it in the book.

President of Bhartiya Vidyarthi Sena, Abhijit Panse, feels the book is offensive to the people in Maharashtra and has abusive references to dabbawalahs, the mentality of the ‘Marathi manoos’ and Pandit Nehru.

Those who, are connected to books and novels know well that in a work of fiction, you have to be true to the characters you portray. It reflects what the characters think and not what the author thinks.

So the obedient V.C. Rajan Velukar used the emergency powers under Section 14 (7) of the Maharashtra University Act, 1994 and decided to withdraw the book form the syllabus.

Senior Journalist Aroon Tikekar is asking how a 20 year-old could go up to the Vice Chancellor and give him 24 hours to withdraw the book? There are protest and petitions from the enlightened citizens.

Let us see if pen is mightier than a sword!

Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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