Siddharth Varadarajan: The confessions of an Indian editor

Siddharth Varadarajan in The Wire:

Emile Zola was a great man and an even greater writer. His 1898 article, ‘J’accuse…’, in which he indicted the French establishment of his day for its anti-semitism, is a classic of journalism. I am a journalist but I have neither the skill nor the courage of Zola. There is probably plenty that the establishment of my day can and should be indicted for but I will leave that to better and braver women and men. Where Zola said ‘I Accuse’, I am saying, ‘I Confess’.

Until this morning, I was angry and upset with the pro-establishment television anchors and actors who were bullying the whole of Bollywood into declaring they would not work with Pakistanis any more. It alarmed me when thugs in Mumbai said they will not allow the screening of any film featuring Pakistani actors. I thought it was mean-spirited for the Mumbai film festival to scrap the screening of a 1959 Pakistani classic. I was saddened when my alma mater, Mayo College, canceled a friendly cricket match with Lahore’s Aitchison College. How would this closing of the Indian mind help protect India’s borders, I wondered.

It is only when I read the stirring words of our information and broadcasting minister that I realised the error of my ways.

“It is very simple to say art has no boundaries,” Venkaiah Naidu ji said, “but countries have boundaries … I’m not building a case for a boycott of anyone but … the people’s sentiments should be respected. When a war is taking place, you have someone doing a drama with that country, that is not expected.”

Following Venkaiah ji’s advice of what is expected of people like me, and in keeping with the nationalist sentiments of our times, I am, therefore, choosing to make a full confession.

More here. [And watch Siddharth read his very touching confessions below.]