By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Famed novelist Vikram Seth said that intolerance is growing in India, while freedom of speech is increasingly being stifled
At a time of growing tensions and the stifling of free speech, India “sorely” needs UAE-style ministries of tolerance and happiness, according to Indian author Vikram Seth.
Seth, 67, is one of India’s best known novelists and poets, particularly following the publication of his 1,488-page 1993 novel “a Suitable Boy”. The book is currently being adapted into a six-part miniseries by the BBC.
Speaking to fans at the Sharjah International Book Fair on Friday, Seth said that he believes it is “a great pity” that intolerance is rising across India.
“I think it’s a terrible, terrible thing,” he added. “What makes us Indians, to so some extent, is that we embrace our differences.”
Seth said that many authors in India now face risks, and that journalism has become “a very dangerous profession”.
“It’s not just because of politicians….but also because of farming and business interests,” he said.
The country, he said, would be well advised to adopt the UAE’s model of implementing a state Ministry of Tolerance and a minister for happiness.
“We sorely need both,” he added.
To date, Seth has published eight books of poetry and three novels, in addition to a non-fiction book recounting his travels in Tibet, China and Nepal.
In 2001, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.