Saturday, March 15, 2008

Indian Curbs Freedom of Expression III

I think I should be frightened. India continues to curb our enshrined freedoms on a daily basis. The state is not humane. Instead, it is an authority, no different from our caste system and priestly power that held sway over our fates for many generations (and which still continues to do so).

Our state is turning out to be another of our masters who continues to chain us. We are yet to attain our complete freedoms. Our Independence Movement continues.

Here, in the last few days, the Indian State has curbed individual expression stamping on our freedoms.

In the South, in the city of Chennai, a painting exhibition was organized which displayed art work displaying Aurangazeb ransacking Hindu Temples. Indian Muslims felt infuriated and thought it was now their turn to show how ‘hurt’ their ‘sentiments’ were. Some of them showed up at the exhibition and ensured that it was closed. The Tamil Nadu government proceeded to close the exhibition. The Indian State, as usual, has lent its hand to ensure our freedoms are curbed, all in the name of some inane and vapid sentiment called ‘to maintain communal harmony’.

If the communal harmony is fragile that it will get affected by a painting exhibition, then I want to flush that communal harmony down the drain. I don’t want to be hijacked by fanatics, terrorists, superstitions, blind beliefs and most important of all, human stupidity.

Its high time we stand against all such irrational sentiments that allow the state to encroach upon our rights.

In another case, a documentary featuring the treatment meted out to Muslims in Gujarat was disallowed from screening in Jaipur. The police hounded the director and ensured he left the city, all in the name of ‘maintaining communal harmony’.

The rest of us are just being the silent spectators. We are interested in who the perpetrator is – if it is Hindu or Muslim. We have convenient justifications to explain our apathies. Slowly we are giving up some of our most precious rights, without a voice or protest. At this rate, that day is not very far away when the ‘moral police’ will be knocking at my doors for expressing my views.


  1. well said!!...:)...want to relate an incident which happened to me..[though not so related]...when myself and my friend were posted in the injection room in Victoria hospital few months back a lady[muslim] had come to get pencillin and when we tried to inject her that she just refused saying that this would hurt her religion[since were not of her sex] and objected!!!...

  2. Totally agree with what you said there....doesn't happen too many times :)

    There are too many instances where the state is curbing the people's rights...and we tolerate it!

    What's the solution? How do we get everybody to realize that the rights enshrined in our constitution is sacrosanct and not something that should be stepped on every time a bunch of people make a lot of noise?

  3. What's the solution?

    Roshan, the way I see it, the role of a citizen in a democracy needs to be redefined and rethought. The role is not just to vote once in 4-5 years, but be in constant touch with the elected officials (at local and state level, possibly at national too), interact with them and give them feedback on issues letting them know what's important to you. majority of us won't even be able to name the elected officials at different levels who represent us. And therein lies the problem, and the solution.

    The elected officials are public servants but our collective apathy has allowed them to become masters instead. Time to organize and remind them of their duties and responsibilities. Basically, watchdog groups and grassroots democracy. That means knowing and talking to neighbors and organizing with other like-minded people based on issues. As someone said long time ago, (paraphrasing): the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

    Just a thought.

  4. It has become commonplace for the judicial system to capitulate to "hurt sentiments" of religious fanatics.
    Hussain, Talsima, Mira Nair...

    The judicial system has the responsibilty to uphold secularism. (Today's SC ruling on Richard Gere's case is an exception).

    "Religious sentiments" get hurt only at the expense of tolerance. Intolerance to different views and perspective, resulting in hurt feelings need to be curbed. It should not be the responsibility of the state/judiciary that swears bu secularism, to promote intolerance, but unfortunately that is precisely what they are doing, the promotion of intolerance in the name of hurt sentiments.

    The ironic part is that it is the guilty that gets scot free and the innocent that gets punished.

    No wonder the word secularism itself is being attacked nowadays. The picture is clear, the unwanted hinderance to promotion of intolerance.

  5. "when we tried to inject her that she just refused saying that this would hurt her religion[since were not of her sex] and objected!!!..."

    Somehow I feel this is not what Sujai was talking about. This is at a personal level and as far as I know as long as things are kept personal i.e. within the confines of our homes or our individual circle of activities, Sujai is fine with it prom the pov of governance though personally he may still be against it.

    Sujai, do correct me if I am misrepresenting you.

    ~ Vinod

  6. "we stand against all such irrational sentiments"

    What is the "we" here?

    If it is the masses, it might be a bit naive.
    you compared state to the caste system - i think what you're getting at is the idea of institutions for the masses.

    this is how they work if they'e let on their own, accept it - every one of th. thriving on the fear of displacement and identity of the masses.

    It is the job of the educated elite to guide the masses through manufacture of opinions. French Revolution (Volataire), Cvil Rights Movement - have worked like this.

    Unfortunately, that role in our country has gone to the dogs - the legislators, the media, etc.

    A similar parallel existed in the caste system that dogged us for so many years - the intellectuals, the keepers of knowledge, were the worst violators.

    And in case you're preparing to ask - I am pro-democracy: as a means of inclusion. But no as a means of policy-making. Even Hitler had the broad consent of his countrymen.

  7. Bland Spice, where exactly do you see the checks and controls coming from on those making the policy or driving the policy making?

  8. Sujai Bhai: What do you think about Mahender Singh Tikait talking absurd about Mayawati? Mayawati has ordered arrest of Tikait. Is it same as curbing freedom of expression? Is Tikait allowed to say what he wants and use whatever words he thinks appropriate for SC/ST?

  9. Vinod said - "Sujai is fine with it prom the pov of governance though personally he may still be against it. "

    Kabhi kabhi lagta hai ki - Vinod is sitting inside Sujai's brain. Only you seem to get what Sujai is saying.

  10. Nice joke there, err...(how do I address you?)

    But regardless of whose point it is, do you think there is any merit in it? I'd like to hear your views.

    ~ Vinod

  11. Mr Vi Nod.

    All that you say and Sujai say is absolutely correct. I nod ;-)

    I also wanted to know if you or Sujai have any opinion on Tikait's use of freedom of expression to call UP government a "chamar sarkar".

    Here is the URL ->

    - We Nod.

  12. Hi There, We Nod

    The link doesn't work for me - got a 'Page not found' error.

    I do wish though I could hear your critical side on issues. It has been fun knowing your humourous takes on people.

    ~ Vinod

  13. Chanced upon your blog.
    As a country we seem to view 'our' history and its heroes/ villains in black and white. Hundreds of years after their death, we still identify with them on the basis of region, religion, community, etc.
    And thats just one problem. The mob also robs us of our right to read the books we want, view the paintings we want (think M. F. Hussain)... Its not so much democracy as mob rule. And of course public sentiments are vague and always defensible, as they must be 'respected'... the perfect catch 22- something you cant reason with or debate.

  14. Sujai bete,
    whassup?No article in April!!!Inteha ho gayi intezaar ki!!!Are you OK?

  15. I came upon your blog, when I was having nothing else to do. But since have become addicted to it.
    I have always felt, that our country is in need of a revolution, the kinds of which was seen during our independence movement, where the common people could hear more intellectually stimulating though from the people they held up as ideals than, say what todays idols of the common man have to say. Not that I am pointing at the movi world or, the writers of today. It is just that I wish, there would be more people willing to step down a little from their high horses, and engage the common mans interest, and intellect. Some do, but most dont.(I sometimes think that includes me too... I am not famous, but I would rather talk, where I have a chance to learn, rather than engage the not so interested.)


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