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Art Education in India: ‘Inevitable Transgressions’?

Art and what The New York Times calls its “inevitable transgressions” have provoked the wrath of Hindu radical-nationalist forces, causing a graduate art student at the state-run Maharaja Sayajirao University to be jailed for “offending religious sentiments” as well as an exhibition to be closed down.
Among other works that triggered the furor were:·        a digital enlargement (by this student) of a painting depicting a Hindu goddess-like female form brandishing weapons in her multiple arms and giving birth,·        and another student painting in which a figure of Jesus was placed before a toilet. Reacting against the former student’s arrest, his fellow students mounted a protest exhibition, which the university administration shut down. “They want to control how we interpret our past,” said Parul Dave Mukherji, a former professor at the campus.
Such censorship is, of course, unacceptable, and this attack on students’ work is an offense against fundamental freedom.
But noteworthy, with this case in mind, is the tenacious reach and staying power in universities in democracies worldwide – no doubt in great part due to the Internet – of what Roger Kimball in The Long March has described as the radical, countercultural and emancipationist movement of the Sixties in the U.S.
As Kimball wrote, that ideology, with its proclivity for passing all knowledge and art “through the sieve of politics,” has taken root throughout American education, wreaking “havoc with the authority of churches and other repositories of moral wisdom…the claims of civic virtue and our national self-understanding…”
In the world of art, ideologues of this stripe have often wallowed in vulgar and other types of “transgressive” expression so as to project their political viewpoint, sublimating or indeed abandoning altogether considerations of beauty, technique, and how tradition might contribute to artistic accomplishment.
Can academic art, and higher education itself, in free and prosperous emerging democracies such as India escape capture by such radicals? Is the ritualized and tiresome  “transgressiveness” they purvey – the association of Jesus and a toilet, for example – inevitable, as the Times would suggest? 
This much is sure:  if the universities responsible for educating students instead primarily teach them to be skeptical about, and even hostile toward, tradition, truth, and beauty, such “transgressiveness” certainly will be inevitable.

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