‘Was this a question of censorship?’ Noam Chowmsky and Vijay Prashad on cancellation of their talk at Mumbai (Tata) Lit Fest

By Muslim Mirror Staff

New Delhi: The Mumbai (Tata) Lit Fest  cancelled a dialogue with Noam Chowmsky and Vijay Prashad, scheduled for Friday. They were called to talk about Chomsky’s new book Internationalism or Extinction.

In a statement issued on People’s Dispatch, Chomsky and Prashad said that they were informed of the event’s cancellation in a mail. “Then, out of nowhere, near 1 pm Indian Standard Time, we received an email which said, cryptically, ‘I am sorry to inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances, we have to cancel your talk today’,” they said in the online release.

The release further added: “Since we do not know why Tata and Mr. Dharker decided to cancel our session, we can only speculate and ask simply: was this a question of censorship?”

A day before the panel discussion, Chomsky and Prashad said they would start the event with a statement that “makes it very clear how we feel about corporations such as the Tatas, and the Tatas in particular.”

This was in response to a boycott appeal by activists, academics, and artists, urging Chomsky to not attend the literature festival sponsored by the Tata group. “It comes as a great disappointment to us, as the Tata Group has had a long history of forceful displacement, human rights violation, and environmental plunder,” the letter addressed to Chomsky said.

“The Literature Festival and other such events by the Tata Group are evidently an attempt to erase its crimes from the public consciousness — an ideological whitewashing,” the letter further added, referring to the construction of steel plants on Adivasi lands and other alleged human rights violations.

Chomsky and Prashad declined to boycott the festival but said they would begin with a statement about what they think about big corporations.

“We will then continue our conversation about Noam’s’ book, Internationalism or Extinction, making various connections between the general themes in the book and the Tatas,” they said in their reply.

Issues about the Citizenship Amendment Act, Adivasi killing, the industrialisation of indigenous lands and environmental degradation would have been taken up, they said in the statement released following cancellation of their dialogue.

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