Freedom of expression

Why has a book featuring a mall been withdrawn by the publisher?

The author of a what could have been a controversial book suggests reasons why it did not make it to bookshelves.

Ghostwriting has taken on new meaning in the strangest controversy to break out in India’s publishing world. A shopping mall in Kolkata is believed to have prevailed upon a publisher to delete references to itself in a book just two days before the launch. Not just that, claims the angry author, the publisher has withdrawn the book altogether and returned her manuscript.

The storm is over Deepta Roy Chakraverti’s book, Bhangarh to Bedlam: Haunted Encounters, which claims to investigate unexplained occurrences, mysterious sightings and apparently unrelated chains of events in different parts of the country and in the UK – not through the tools of rationality, but in terms of the possibility that there are paranormal forces at work behind these events.

The book covers, among others, Lodhi Garden in Delhi, Marine Drive in Mumbai, some popular destinations in Kolkata – sites with allegedly paranormal activity, accidents and suicides. It also includes a chapter on a popular shopping mall in Kolkata, where a number of accidents and suicides have taken place in recent times.

And this is where a controversy has erupted, with the mall in question demanding that all references to it be eliminated from the book. According to Roy Chakraverti, a corporate lawyer by profession and a psychic investigator by calling, who is the daughter of the self-styled Wiccan priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, the publishers obliged by calling off the publication of the book.

Neither the management of the mall nor the publishers responded to our questions. We spoke to Roy Chakraverti on the subject:

What was your publishers’ initial response to the subject of your book? Did they find anything controversial or anticipate trouble?
Initially the publishers were extremely keen, and accepted my manuscript within a day or so. They were very eager to go into this genre. They did not seem to mind anything controversial as long as I signed with them. Even during the making of the book, sometimes when I would ask them whether they were sure about some potentially controversial point, they would insist I go ahead.

In fact, regarding the mall story, they had said they would go to the bookstore in the mall there and ask for a reading of the book!

You are a legal professional. What precautions did you take while writing the book?
I drew all facts from newspaper reports or published material – that is why the book has a very large bibliography. There is also a disclaimer where I have made it clear that the psychic perceptions were my own observations and did not prove or disprove anything supernatural. In addition, I had talked to actual people who had witnessed certain incidents and been there. There were first-hand reports. Moreover, the publishers themselves put the manuscript through two different edits, and three rounds of readings. Their internal team was well versed with it. The manuscript was with them since last August or September. In March, at the time of final printing, I asked whether they would like to change anything, they insisted everything was perfect.

How and when did the publishers tell you about the threat?
They forwarded the email from the mall to me.

What does the mail say?
The email from the real-estate company to the publishers says that they have heard that the mall is mentioned in the book, and they want the name blacked out. They talk a lot about how it is such a big and popular mall, and including the name in the book may scare people and hurt their business.

 

Is there more to it than business interests?
Perhaps. I have often wondered if they are biased against me being a Wiccan. Or is it because I've spoken well of the ancient mystical tradition of the Sufis and a famed shrine nearby. Also, would it have made a difference if a man had written the book?

The story is about the poor workers who had died during construction or even in later years. The management had been criticised for allegedly trying to hush up the most recent and ghastly tragedy of January 2014, where workers hanging up bunting had crashed to their deaths from a height of 60 feet. Eyewitnesses had said that all traces were being removed as soon as the accident happened.


Did you consider deleting the chapter or dropping the name of the mall?
Not at all. There is a disclaimer and I have quoted reports that have already been published in mainstream media. Besides, I would expect the publisher to show some spine. Especially when the author is a debutante and the subject is as sensational.

What is your view on the incident?
The dark energy has its own power. I feel that this fiasco happened because there were one or two political entities in the background, which were afraid of a Wiccan woman gaining popularity. The old witch-hunt continues.

Would this deter you from taking up similar subjects in the future?
I’m writing my next!

Your mother, Ipsita had started her own imprint with the same publishers. What happens to the imprint now?
Ipsita has told the publishers that she is made of sterner stuff than them and has withdrawn from the Dark Rose imprint she had created with them.

 

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.

Play

To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.