Citizen Madhav: Travels with an Engineer

Posted on April 27, 2006



shortcut talks to madhav kakani, chemical engineer and world citizen

Let’s start with the serious stuff  –  we know what Danes think about the cartoon crisis, we know what
Americans think by and large, and we certainly know what the Arab world thinks of it. You’re an Indian living in Copenhagen, what is your take on it?

India is very multicultural, essentially we all get along, unless there’s political incitement that fuels discord and violence. I, along with other Indian and Pakistani friends, think it was stupid to publish it, it reflects ignorance. "Freedom of speech" as a justification is not enough. And in any case, if you do publish potentially incendiary material, you have to accept the consequences. The response in Denmark was very defensive, there is still only a rudimentary understanding of how a globalized world works – Denmark is not used to being in the spotlight and certainly is not used to widespread criticism of its values. But today what happens in a small country can set off a powerful chain reaction.

I read in a newspaper poll that more than 50% of Danes think the cartoons should not have been published. In the end it is a matter of judgement and in this case, a lack of judgement on the part of the editors. That said, the punishment – the firebombing and death threats – certainly didn’t fit the crime!

I’m fairly sure that most of the violence was orchestrated by the respective Arab governments. Many in the Arab world are dissatisfied with their corrupt, ineffective regimes and the governments just gave that street anger an occasion to vent. There’s a good thing to all this though, which is that all sides are now more aware and will think twice next time.

Read the full interview