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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Never confuse issues with people

Fight issues – never fight people. That way issues get discussed, resolved or stay in disagreement – but relationships never disintegrate!

There’s an interesting issue out there that’s being handled in a very mature manner by all parties involved. I’ll share it the way I have understood it so that everyone can benefit from the learning the episode offers. Joe D’Cruz is a feted Tamil writer whose first novel ‘Aazhi Soozh Ulagu’ (Ocean Ringed World, 2005) was signed up by Navayana Publishing for being translated in English. The English translation was done by V.Geetha, a noted feminist and transalator, and was due for release in late 2014. Sometime earlier this month Joe D’Cruz announced his support of Narendra Modi’s candidacy for the Indian Prime Minister’s post. Navayana, led by publisher S.Anand, and Geetha did not find D’Cruz’s personal support of Modi in conformance with their own ideologies and so they withdrew their offer to publish the English translation of his work. On the face of it, this may appear to be yet another of those many battles that the publishing world is fraught with. But this one is different because all three parties – D’Cruz, Anand and Geetha – have articulated clearly – and transparently – what their stand on the “issue” is. D’Cruz, on his part, demonstrated great honesty by telling Anand of his decision to support Modi. Anand is crystal clear in his view on why Navayana will not have anything to do with D’Cruz, the writer, anymore: “It is both appalling and disturbing that D’Cruz, who captured the rich and unique history of the seafaring community of Tamil Nadu in an epic tale spanning three generations (in ‘Aazhi Soozh Ulagu’), should call a fascist like Modi a ‘dynamic visionary’. Initially, I did not believe this till Joe told me over the phone that this was indeed his stand and that his decision was personal. However, there cannot be a place for such an author in a political publishing house like Navayana.” Geetha too is blunt: “He is entitled to his political opinion, but I don’t want to be associated with anyone or anything linked to Modi. Modi in my opinion is not only a political disaster, but downright evil. We can’t forget Gujarat 2002—no one must be allowed to, either. I still stand by his novel, which I think is a fantastic saga of fisher Life, and I am sorry Joe has decided to trade his considerable gifts as a novelist for a politics that is fascist and dangerous. I have therefore decided to withdraw my translation.” 

Let’s leave the political reasoning out of this. If we just look at the maturity of each stand, the learning is unputdownable. D’Cruz does not want to compromise his personal choice of ‘Modi for PM’ for the sake of literary success, Anand does not want to dilute his publishing house’s ideology and Geetha doesn’t wish to forgive Modi – and so doesn’t wish to associate with anyone who’s pro-Modi. Even so, neither Anand nor Geetha, questions or attacks D’Cruz’s literary genius or his impeccable credentials as an author. And that’s the way it must be.

Many a time, we tend to confuse issues with people. When we disagree with someone’s opinion, we end up making the disagreement personal. The stands people take often end up starting a mud-slinging match. To the extent that the issue is often forgotten and a bitter, personality clash is what remains. There’s great value, whenever a disagreement surfaces, in defining what the issue or the source of disagreement is. Only then can the issue be resolved meaningfully. People, however, tend to push the issue aside and sulk. Because sulking is more convenient. But sulking causes an emotional imbalance and, at times, is even a burden. You try to be nice to someone with whom you have a difference of opinion only because you don’t want to hurt that person. But do you realize that you are hurting yourself in the bargain? So, don’t sulk – instead, simply say whatever you are feeling about the issue on hand.

Inner peace really means being in sync with whatever you love. It could be about what you love doing or love wearing or reading or eating. In fact, inner peace is also impacted by how you are feeling. Don’t let anyone or anything disturb your inner peace. And one way to protect it is to speak your mind, clearly, honestly, with whoever you have a disagreement with. While disagreeing take extreme care not to attack the person and instead address only the issue on the table. Be wary of being provoked and drawn into a personal slugfest. As long as you keep the focus on the issue – you can be assured of two things. You will be at peace with yourself. And you will not be the cause of the relationship having broken down!

1 comment:

  1. The stand taken by Narayana (in collution with Geetha) publishing house is unpardonable. They had agreed the literary work of Joe DeCruz and not his personal views/opinions. If the book contains anything that Narayana feels objectionable, then they can cancel the agreement. But cancelling the agreement based on the writer's views is goondaism. condemnable. We, readers, expect writers like you, 'to condemn the attitude of Anand and Geetha.