Delhi-based journalist-writer Avijit Ghosh’s book, Up Campus Down Campus, published by Speaking Tiger, was refused permission to be read at the New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan Monday. The book is a fictional narrative set in the 1980s in Jawaharlal Nehru University. The reading session was supposed to be helmed by Ghosh and senior AAP leader Ashutosh.
“National Book Trust (NBT), which organised the fair, offers these book discussion segments and we had submitted three names — Mridula Koshy, Swapna Liddle and Avijit Ghosh. They told us the director of NBT wants to read Ghosh’s book. At the last minute, they told us that Ghosh wouldn’t be allowed to read. We weren’t given any reasons,” said Ravi Singh, publisher and co-founder of Speaking Tiger.
The readings were finalised last month and this particular correspondence took place earlier this month. Ghosh said, “The NBT received the book mid-last week. It was an exchange between my publishers and NBT. It’s a bit surprising… I’m hoping the book was not taken out just because it was on JNU, or because Ashutosh was on the panel. Ashutosh and I were in the same hostel in JNU…”
Ashutosh was contacted by the author and publishers last month. The AAP leader claimed, “On January 3, I got a call from Avijit… NBT had called up and asked them for a copy to review. They sent the book and almost immediately, they called back, saying they’ve cancelled Avijit’s book reading. No explanations…”
NBT chairman Baldeo Bhai Sharma said, “I have not directly dealt with this particular part of the programme, but we do keep in mind that one person doesn’t get too many slots in the schedule. It’s all programme-based and has nothing to do with what it is about, not even if it has something to do with JNU.”