Jaipur police summon Ashis Nandy

Sociologist and author Ashis Nandy, who is alleged to have made disparaging remarks against the backward classes in a speech made at the Jaipur Literature Fest (JLF) on Saturday, has been served a written summons by the Jaipur police today.

The organisers of the JLF had on Monday handed over the video footage of Nandy's speech during which he had allegedly blamed the people from the backward classes, scheduled castes and tribes for corruption in the country.

In his speech at a panel discussion on Saturday, Nandy had said: "It will be an undignified and vulgar statement but the fact is that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled castes and now increasingly STs. As long as it was the case, the Indian republic would survive."

Police said a first information report was lodged against Nandy under the section 3(1) of the SC/ST Act, which was non-bailable and invited a 10-year jail term. The case was filed by a person identified as Ram Ratan Meena.

Sanjoy Roy, producer of the JLF, who had defended Nandy on Sunday, has also been named in the police report registered against the author, and is likely to be questioned today by the police.

On Monday, organisers of the JLF signed an undertaking not to leave the city till police investigations in this case are complete.

Nandy, had on Saturday itself clarified that he did not mean to hurt the sentiments of the country's disempowered groups with his comment about the equalizing force of corruption and that the scourge was rampant among the backward and Dalit communities as well.

"I do believe that a zero corruption society will be despotic society. I also said that if people like Richard Sorabjee and I want to be corrupt, I shall possibly send his son to Harvard and give him a fellowship and he can send my daughter to Oxford," Nandy told the media following protests by Dalit groups.

"No one will think it as corruption. Indeed it will look like supporting talent. But when Dalits, tribals and the OBCs are corrupt, it looks very corrupt indeed. However, this second corruption equalizes. It gives them access to top their entitlements As long as this equation persists, I have hope for the republic," he said.

Nandy said he was sorry that he had been misunderstood. "As should be clear, there was neither any intention nor any attempt to hurt any community," he said.

The scholar said he had been supporting the cause of the marginalized and dispossessed in the last 40 years of his academic and intellectual life.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati has asked the Rajasthan government to take strong action against him, while Republican Party of India (RPI) chief Ramdas Athawale has demanded that Nandy take back his comments.

However, Dalit activist-writer Kancha Ilaiah sought to put a lid on the controversy on Monday saying it was "a bad statement with good intentions". Teachers of Jamia Milia University and Delhi University have also rallied behind Nandy.


(With agency inputs)

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