In recent years America has been thrown into the spotlight for book banning – but it’s a problem that spans across the the globe.

According to WordsRated, it’s India that’s responsible for banning the most books, like ever, accounting for 11% of all recorded bans. And China and Singapore aren’t so far behind.

And despite the amount of attention America recieves for its book banning, especially in regard to the ludicrous (or so the majority of us think) bans of books like the Harry Potter series, North America as a whole has only been responsible for a minority of the worlds book banning, with Asia and Europe leading the way.

Book banning in India

Though book banning in India is still prevalent today, much of the country’s history of the practice can be traced back to the colonial rule of the subcontinent by the British, when books such as Indian Home Rule by Mahatma Gandhi were banned for potentially undermining the British rule.

After India gained its independence in 1947, the country continued to ban books which caused religious outrage, such as when Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was swiftly banned in 1988 following violent riots by those who thought the book insulted Islam.

Books that have been banned in the modern age include The Toyesh Master by Dhundi in 2013 and The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger which was banned in 2015. Both were found to be insulting enough to Hindus to warrant a total ban.

Any books which dare to criticise national hero’s such as Gandhi and Nehru are also quick to be banned. When all of this comes together, it means that India is the country with the most bans of any country – not something you would expect from a democratic nation.

Above: Share of worldwide book bans. Data: WordsRate

Book banning in China

Despite a myriad of changing political regimes in the country throughout history, most leads have encouraged some sort of censorship, with book banning being traced back in the country to the Tang dynasty (618-907).

In terms of recent history, under the nationalist government of the Kuomintang, any left-wing political literature was banned. But this was  reversed when the communists won the civil war in 1950, who themselves banned lots of literature containing political ideas which could undermine their power.

Today book banning remains firmly in place in the country, with books like Jung Chang’s Wild Swans banned for potentially tarnishing the image of Mao Zedong and other political leaders.

Self-censorship is also very prevalent in the country, where publishers remove any references to Taiwan being an independent state or unrest in Hong Kong in order to get their books past the censorship boards.


Book banning in Ireland

Though rare in the country nowadays, Ireland has a long history of banning books which disagreed with the strict religious principles of the country, with books containing references to sex or abortion seen as blasphemous.

In fact the word ‘pregnant’ did not appear in print in the country until 1960.

Though many books that were previously available in the country are now freely available, many books about abortion still remain illegal.

Arthur Barratt

Arthur Barratt

Arthur is a journalism student at The University of Sheffield. As well as being a founding member of BLOT, he has also written for Forge Press, Sheff Central and One2Football. His hobbies include climbing, going to gigs and of course, reading.

Favourite genres: Magical Realism and Historical Fiction.