Lifestyle & Belief

India: No sense of humor when it comes to politics or religion

Academics from around the world, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Noam Chomsky, petitioned India's prime minister to secure the release of two Indian professors who were arrested for public statements and protests, according to the Hindustan Times.

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research assistant professor, Partha Sarathi Roy, and Ambikesh Mahapatra, of West Bengal's Jadavpur University, were allegedly arrested for protest activities and debates related to their leftist political leanings.

In Mahapatra's case, the professor circulated a cartoon image of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee that the Trinamool Congress party leader found less than flattering, apparently.  

"Professor Ambikesh Mohapatra has been arrested for spreading derogatory messages against respectable persons," deputy commissioner of Kolkata Police (south suburban division) Sujoy Chanda told the Times of India.

He refused to divulge the names of the 'respectable persons,' however. (Perhaps fearing some debate on their respected status).

Roy, a biologist by training is a is a vocal critic of, what he calls, LPG policies - liberalization, privatization and globalization-- and a co-founder of an online journal, Sanhati, whose objective is to focus on 'struggle against corporate capital and upholding democratic rights of people.' 

Ironic, considering Banerjee's espoused cause is almost exactly the same. But in some ways Mahapatra and Roy might count themselves lucky: In recent years academics have seen their books removed from course lists or censored arbitrarily, threats of violence are routine when sensitive subjects like the eating of beef are discussed, and at least one professor had his hands chopped off for alleged blasphemy.

When it comes to politics, or religion, it seems, India can't take a joke.