How to get your book banned in India: a step by step guide

If you are an astute observer of the world like I, whatever your religious or ideological affiliation, one thing is obvious: getting your book banned is great for sales.

Lets face it, book-writers are an impoverished lot. Few of them (us?) manage to get any royalties and fewer still can live off them. In the pursuit of making a living doing what you love and in the process entertaining and illuminating people, all means must be considered fair.

Satanic verses by Salman Rushdie List of books banned in India

I’ve been a prolific reader from my childhood and like any other kid who loved costumed super heroes I’ve created a few of my own. I have also  dreamed of becoming rich and famous by writing many a marvelous novel (am working on the ‘writing’ bit) . But my novel has no guarantee of being a hit. Genius is not often recognized in its time. And so like any self-respecting indian parent ( the novel being my child, of course) I firmly believe that one must go to any lengths possible to promote ones child. yes, I am talking about getting my book banned.

After having examined lists of books banned in india like the one at and reading pages and pages of articles written about banned books, I have discovered the perfect way to get my book banned.

Being of big heart, here is the formula in its entirety and explained.

  1. Write a book.
  2. Be very unlucky


  1. Be famous
  2. Write an unlucky book

Sounds simple doesn’t it? It isn’t.

Thousands of books are published in India every year. Other than the english press, we have a much larger press in Indian languages. The interesting thing is, many of these books that are published can be considered obscene, inflammatory, anti-religion, anti-indian etc but very few ever get banned. This is why I say you must be unlucky.
Here is how you go about being unlucky. Important!  You must do all the steps, don’t be lazy, book publishing is not for the lazy.

Step 1

Option 1

Write something that parodies one of the following or
introduces a less than honorable side of them or
portrays in a less than saintly manner

  1. Mahatma Gandhi or a Gujarati historical figure
  2. The prophet Mohammad or the koran
  3. Shivaji or other local historical heroes
  4. Sita and Ramayana
  5. Indira Gandhi or other scions of the Nehru family
  6. Official versions of the wars India fought.
  7. The indian independence struggle.
  8. Narendra modi (Speculative, but I predict a rapid growth in this market)
  9. Sachin Tendulkar (Speculative)
  10. Barkha Dutt /Sagarika Ghose (Speculative, I think the signs are there)

Option 2

Write something nice about

  1. Jinnah
  2. Pakistan
  3. Arundhati Roy or Maoists (Speculative)
  4. Sachin Tendulkar (speculative: if he doesn’t hit 100)
  5. Barkha Dutt /Sagarika Ghose (Speculative)

Step 2

Ensure unluckiness by mailing copies of the book to one or more of the relevant organizations.

  2. Shiv Sena or similar nationalist outfits
  3. Darul Uloom or relevant fundamentalist islamic organization.
  4. Govt. Of Gujarat
  5. Ruling political party or opposition ( no.1 will do, but just to be sure)
  6. BD/SG fan club pvt limited (speculative, soon to be formed organization)

TIP:  Prepare before hand. Start right now and write/speak/tweet about any/all the above, portraying them in a bad light. This will create the right atmosphere for when the book comes along.

Step 3

Be white.

Get your book banned in India

This is an important step, you must be white. Yes, white as in Firangi. If that is not possible, be an Indian who lives abroad. Or get major funding from abroad. At least try travel abroad and speak like “foreign-returned” people. Sure, indian authors have had their work banned, but the overwhelming majority of works that have been banned have had a foreign hand. We in India do not like the foreign hand except when it is giving us grants or jobs.

Interesting historical side-note: If you were writing in the near and pre independence india, your book would have a high likely hood of being banned if it was obscene. Because Indian people must not read dirty stories written by white people. Our own desi erotica industry does quiet a good job, thank you.

Someone has said about Bollywood that it is most important who discovers you, not what they discover in you. The same can be said about getting your books banned.

Laugh at me, but when my alt. history dystopian space opera that is actually a liberal critique of the essential paradigm of partially situated Indian identities which are canonical forms of Indo-Aryan contact, using dialectics of metaphorical thoughts becomes a runaway best seller and gets banned in India, I will have the last laugh. [hint: it will feature Mohammed, Sita, Ayesha, Modi and Gandhi in abstract roles during the Kargil war]

PS: Nilanjana Roy has done a time line of books banned and brought out common threads in the book banning reasons. Banned in India Part 1 and Part 2

Jalliyanwalla Bagh Mein Vasant: A poem by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

April 13th 1919, Amritsar, the city was celebrating Baisakhi a traditional festival on which people celebrate the beginning of the harvesting season by congregating in community fairs. Unfortunately the biritsh had passed martial law in most of punjab expressly forbidding the meeting of more than 5 people. About 2000 people were packed in the garden called jalliyanwalla, in defiance of the prohibitory orders.

General Dyer, who later said;

I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing but they would have come back again and laughed, and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself. –

ordered his brigade to open fire at the unarmed gathering.

The garden is surrounded by walls and has only one narrow entrance and so served as a death pit with no escape from the machine gun fire that followed the orders.

1579 was the body count by the civil surgeon.

In the memory of this incident, Subhadra kumari Chauhan wrote this touching poem.

यहाँ कोकिला नहीं, काग हैं, शोर मचाते,
काले काले कीट, भ्रमर का भ्रम उपजाते।

कलियाँ भी अधखिली, मिली हैं कंटक-कुल से,
वे पौधे, व पुष्प शुष्क हैं अथवा झुलसे।

परिमल-हीन पराग दाग सा बना पड़ा है,
हा! यह प्यारा बाग खून से सना पड़ा है।

ओ, प्रिय ऋतुराज! किन्तु धीरे से आना,
यह है शोक स्थान यहाँ मत शोर मचाना।

वायु चले, पर मंद चाल से उसे चलाना,
दुःख की आहें संग उड़ा कर मत ले जाना।

कोकिल गावें, किन्तु राग रोने का गावें,
भ्रमर करें गुंजार कष्ट की कथा सुनावें।

लाना संग में पुष्प, न हों वे अधिक सजीले,
तो सुगंध भी मंद, ओस से कुछ कुछ गीले।

किन्तु न तुम उपहार भाव आ कर दिखलाना,
स्मृति में पूजा हेतु यहाँ थोड़े बिखराना।

कोमल बालक मरे यहाँ गोली खा कर,
कलियाँ उनके लेये गिराना थोड़ी ला कर।

आशाओं से भरे हृदय भी छिन्न हुए हैं,
अपने प्रिय परिवार देश से भिन्न हुए हैं।

कुछ कलियाँ अधखिली यहाँ इसलिए चढ़ाना,
कर के उनकी याद अश्रु के ओस बहाना।

तड़प तड़प कर वृद्ध मरे हैं गोली खा कर,
शुष्क पुष्प कुछ वहाँ गिरा देना तुम जा कर।

यह सब करना, किन्तु यहाँ मत शोर मचाना,
यह है शोक-स्थान बहुत धीरे से आना।

Many died to grant us freedom, let us be careful lest we live ungrateful to their sacrifice.

Jai Hind.

From the Archives: The New East India Company

Published on The Blog Of Dysfunction on September 18 2008

Indians of any background should have reason enough to celebrate their historical or cultural association with Nagarjuna’s penetrating philosophical arguments…Maitreya’s searching questions, Carvaka’s reasoned skeptisism, Aryabhattas astronomical and mathematical departures, Kalidasa’s dazzling poetry, Sudraka’s subversive drama, Abdul fazal’s astounding scholarship.. or Ravi Shankar’s and Ali Akbar Khan’s music, without first having to check the religious background of each

Sen, Amartya,The Argumentative Indian (Penguin Books 2005), p75

Among the many good habit I am nurturing in me of late is reading books about India. This stemmed from the realization that for someone who claims to be a patriot I know pathetically little about my nation.I began with “In Spite of the Gods by Edward Luce” and now am reading this delightful book.

Dr.Sen is a genius and a scholar sans comparison, yet his language is engaging and easy arguments to understand. One of the essays, from which the above quote comes from, examines the Hindutva movement very closely, and in the wake of the renewed violence against minorities in the country, this passage is particularly relevant.

The unfortunate truth is that in the name of “true Indianness” the proponents of the militant Hindutva movement (and those of other religions) are just peddling fascism, and are using the tactic the British East India company is famed to have used to rule India; “divide and rule”. Our colonial overlords were driven out amidst united slogans of “quit India”, I think it is time the same happens to intolerant and militant religious fundamentalism, be it of any religious conviction.

mażhab nahīñ sikhātā āpas meñ bair rakhnā
hindī haiñ ham, vat̤an hai hindostāñ hamārā

Religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves
We are of Hind, our homeland is Hindustan.

Quit India Hate mongerers!!

Jai Hind