The pace at which books and films are being banned, one day humans might also be banned – Sowvendra

On the sidelines of Kolkata Literature Festival, eNewsroom engaged in a candid talk with author Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar about books, freedom of speech and his experience of having his novel banned

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Kolkata: It was not just films that got banned in 2017 but books too. Last year, two authors were in the docks, with their books being blocked. The Adivasis Will Not Dance, by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar was one of the books that were banned last year. Sowendra, a Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar winner, when asked about the concept of books being banned reacted, “The way books and movies are getting banned that, the day doesn’t seem to be far off when there would be a ban on humans taking birth too.”

However, Sowvendra, sitting comfortably at a Kolkata hotel as the discussion proceeds, added that he was relatively relieved, as the ban on his book by Jharkhand government has been lifted. However, Sowvendra, who is also a doctor by profession added that his suspension from the duties of being a government doctor, by Raghubar Das government is yet to be revoked.

The author had a very strong stand on the issue of bans and had also had a session on freedom of speech in the recently concluded Jaipur Literature Festival. In KLF, too he was part of a discussion on right to be heard. Speaking about bans, he mentioned, “As now everything is politics and politicians decide everything for us, you can’t do much about it?”

Elaborating further, he said, “Politicians decide how many rations you get. They allot money for food, schools, and treatment for us, then why will they miss out the opportunity to ban books or films.”

Sowvendra’s first book was The Mysterious Ailment of Rupy Baskey, and the second was The Adivasis Will Not Dance. Both the literary works of Sowvendra touched upon tribal culture and medicine field.

“I am not into any type of activism through my writings, nor are my writings exclusively for the tribals. As an author, I am willing to write on any issue and believe that there should be no stereotyping. When I feel strongly on something, I write,” he added.

But how an author feels, when he or she gets the news of his work being banned? “I went blank for some time, I just couldn’t believe that all this was happening to my book, as I had not written against the tribals or portrayed them in the bad light. Later, I took a grip of my emotions and thought as I can not change what others think or do, it would be best if I chose not to acknowledge it, because if you do, then your problem will only increase. For almost two months, I got myself busy with several translation works, and stayed away from all these negative news,” mentioned Sowvendra.

So, did the ban affect you as a writer or your writing? “Not really! Two of my books will be published this year (2018). One is a collection of short stories, called Death Of A Pahadi and the other is a children book.” He then added, “Opposition makes me write more and better.”

Sowvendra seemed excited about his forthcoming book for children. “It is a special book for me as I never wrote for children. The name of the book is Jawala Kumar, it is about a dragon,” he excitedly informed.

While this doctor in suspension is waiting for the Jharkhand government to revoke his suspension, however, the author Sowvendra is going places. He has recently been invited by Indian Institute of Management (IIM)- Ahmedabad and Osmania University, as a speaker.

Speaking about his suspension he said, “I have submitted my explanation to the government on the suspension notice, and am waiting for their response.”

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