The move by the western Indian state Gujarat to preemptively ban Pulitzer-Prize winner Joseph Lelyveld’s book about Mahatma Gandhi (where he claims the Indian activist lusted after a male German bodybuilder) has many critics who think the censorship play is yet another government affront to gay acceptance. Add to the list of the displeased: Mahatma ‘s great grandson Tushar Gandhi and granddaughter Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee.
“It is the most un-Gandhian thing to do!” says Tushar of the ban on Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle. “If you have a problem with the claims made in the book, then you have to counter them intellectually. Banning the book, in fact, will give it a halo, the status of a martyr. Banning anything is simply an easy way out for the government.”
Adds Tara, who is vice chairwoman of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust: “The more we debate, the more credibility we give (to the claims made in the book),” she said. “We have not even read the book. Everyone, from readers to the government, must make informed decisions.”
Nevermind that Lelyveld himself insists the “book does not say that Gandhi was bisexual or homosexual.” Also, nevermind that, as Tara says, NOBODY HAS EVEN READ THE BOOK. But banning it ensures the book receives an outsize level of coverage, which will only increase interest in scoring a copy. So great job Indian lawmakers: You just sent Great Soul to the top of the Times Of India‘s best-seller list.