Gauri Lankesh’s ex warns of ‘Illiberal India’

BENGALURU: Married at a young age, the author of Illiberal India, Chidanand Rajghatta reminisces the early days of emergency which triggered the passion of journalism in his ex-wife and slain journalist, Gauri Lankesh. The book is set in the backdrop of intolerance and fractiousness slowly gripping the country.  Asked about the title of the book and if he truly perceives India to be illiberal, Rajghatta said, “It depends where we stand. For a person brought up in Hindu religion, there is a sense of security. 

The criticism against  the rise of intolerance immediately comes with an advice of leaving to Pakistan. This relativism with other countries is not needed.”  Gauri Lankesh’s death on September 5, 2017, became a rallying point across the country. Her vociferous views against the perceived fascism growing in the country after the 2014 election, and 2016 election in the US after which Donald Trump became the President, according to Rajghatta upset her.

The book contains anecdotes and the email conversations between them on politics and their college lives. The author recollected the first date he had with Gauri. “After our divorce in 1990, we had hardly talked. But after 2014, we got in touch over emails and continued our intellectual conversations. I remember how after 2014, she said that country has gone into the hands of fascists,” Rajghatta said.

Over the growing extremism of right ideology, the author viewed it as a pendulum which touches all the ideologies and with respect to India he said, “In US there was centre-left-right and even in India if someone pushes right to extreme flanks people will not accept it.” The author terms social media as an ‘ugly beast’ which amplifies every issue and on the recent fracas of Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP’s usage of term Hindu Pakistan,  Rajghatta pointed out at his own usage of the term in the book. On the issue of the ongoing investigation in Lankesh’s killing, Rajghatta said he is satisfied with the Special Investigation Team’s progress, but he could not mention its role in his book since, at the time of writing the book, there was no major breakthrough in the case.

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