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Western ideas not the right filter to examine Indian realities: Manu Joseph

By November 27, 2017No Comments

Source : Times of India

Journalist and writer Manu Joseph‘s session at the third edition of the Times Lit Festbegan with a disclaimer and chuckle: “All issues discussed here are works of fiction and bear no resemblance to any living person or event.”

Manu Joseph

In conversation with his contemporary Amrita Tripathiabout his new work Ms Laila, Armed and Dangerous , Joseph talked about the need for writers to document reality in an age dominated by hypocrisy. His novel, which successfully blurs the line between fiction and reality, is a powerful satire, where he refers to Damodarbhai, a rising political figure with a 56-inch chest.

The book, which follows the journey of a female protagonist Akhila Iyer, calls out the double standards of society’s elite class. During the discussion, the author tore into liberals and fanatics alike, calling them out for their deception techniques.

“Today’s world is dangerous because it is full of people who veil their intentions. Nowadays, there are no openly sexist or casteist people. They co-opt others into their system in a most principled way – by invoking morality,” he said, adding that a fraud is not as dangerous as a believer.

Joseph, while criticising western concepts like secularism, said European ideals are not always the right filters to examine Indian reality. “It is easy for an atheist to be secular. But it is more difficult for a temple goer to abide by the same principles,” he said.

Acknowledging that the world is defined by rising fanaticism, Joseph criticised the stand of the “liberals” and said “evil is on a rise because of its equal opportunity system.”

“Evil flourishes because the vilest people take charge. Look at America and the case of Trump. You can all laugh at him, but you cannot deny that during the election campaign, he told a better story,” he said, adding that the problem with liberals was that they labelled anyone who disagreed with them as “stupid”.

 While identifying himself as a “misanthrope”, he strongly criticised labelling people and putting them inside boxes. “I work in morally ambiguous zones, so people call me a contrarian,” Joseph said, adding that it was time that mainstream media moved beyond “topicality” and “hierarchy” and started focusing on real issues.

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