HC Deb 11 March 1929 vol 226 cc783-5
1. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Under-Secretary of State for India why a book called "Shiva or the Future of India," by Mr. R. J. Minney, formerly joint editor of the "Englishman," of Calcutta, has been debarred entry into India by the Government, in view of the fact that Miss Mayo's book, "Mother India," was allowed to circulate freely throughout the Peninsula?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Earl Winterton)

The Government of India proscribed the book called "Shiva or the Future of India" because it dealt with certain of its subjects in a manner certain to give great and justifiable offence to Indian public opinion without giving evidence of any attempt to study the subject seriously. In this latter respect it differs entirely from the book "Mother India."

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Was this British writer of some distinction differentiated against simply because he may have given offence to certain Indian subjects, or was it because he also made certain strictures on the Government?


It has nothing whatever to do with giving offence to certain Indian subjects. The book contains passages commenting on the Hindu religion in language of extreme coarseness and grossness which would be offensive to the decent people of any race. Personally, I have read nothing in Miss Mayo's book which would compare with the passages in question.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is the Noble Lord aware that a great many people who have read both these books, including myself, think that Miss Mayo's book was far more severe in regard to these matters?


That may be the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member but I do not think it would be the opinion of any person who read the two books carefully, in fact there is no comparison between them. Certainly I should not like to quote in this House—indeed it would be improper to do so—some of the passages, which exceed in grossness and coarseness anything published in this country for a long time.


Do I understand that the Government of India are going to start a censorship on any book which tries to change the religion of the people of India?


Does the Noble Lord seriously suggest that the book "Mother India" gives any evidence of any serious study of the subject on the part of the authoress?


I think it does, but I am not in a position to offer any literary criticism of either book. I should most certainly have said that "Mother India" was a more serious study than the book in question. The point is that it is open to any person to attack the grounds of truth of any religion, but, if a book of this kind were published in this country commenting on the Christian religion in the way that this book comments on the Hindu religion, I am quite sure that the law of this country would intervene.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY rose


We cannot have a discussion on this question.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

The Under-Secretary has made a statement which is contrary to the facts. Is the Noble Lord aware that Miss Mayo went to India only as a tourist whereas this gentleman held a responsible editorial position in Calcutta for many years?

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