The "F" Word...

An All Girls Rock Band in Kashmir is silenced by the atrocious claims on some religious leader, Tamil Nadu government puts a ban on the release of the movie “Vishwaroopam”, the Ashish Nandy FIR on what he expressed in Jaipur Literature Festival 2013, another Rushdie-banning bickering, the want for ‘The Da Vicni code’ to be banned in India by Christian groups and frequent cases of Facebook-arrests are all examples of how the freedom of expression is being curbed or more rightly, being kept under a siege in the current scenario in our country. Looking at the recent developments and ongoing embroilments, the new forbidden “F” word is undoubtedly “FREEDOM”.

Due to domineering social groups, a spineless government eyeing for vote banks and an innocent public, the problem of this siege has been exacerbated. The Palghar incident where Shaheen Dhada was arrested and mentally tormented for weeks by hooligans and policemen alike over something that she had written as her personal opinion, due to lack of immediate action, clarified legal forces and misleading laws. Vishwaroopam was banned under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers the government to issue orders “in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger”. If that was a case of nuisance for the government and if that was urgency then I feel terribly sorry to say, that we are being run by corrupt cabinet, guided by orthodox laws and lead by mindless people who are not able to identify urgency.

Media faces censorship, movies face ban, literature faces FIRs, cartoonist faces harassment and all that we are left with is a Constitution that provides an “absolute freedom of expression with some exceptions”. If our government and the political party in power really believes that all above cases were under “exceptions” to absolute freedom, then there also have been enough incidents lately that have endangered the “security of the state” (Reference: Akbar Owaisi), threatened our “Friendly relations with foreign countries” (Reference: Honourable Ministry of External Affair), crossed the limits of “decency and morality” (Reference: Digvijay Singh on his sexist remarks) which are all provided as cases of exception to Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

The sad part is that Kamal Hassan agreed to carry out the cuts in the movie Vishwaroopam as demanded by certain Muslim groups. It is not a settlement but surrender by the producer of the movie albeit for pragmatic reasons. However it does lay down a bad paradigm because it concedes to certain intolerant groups demanding a ban, a veto or appellate power over the decision by Censor Board. 

 A liberal democracy is the one where all groups of the country can accept the fact with dignity that people can have different opinions, beliefs and ideologies and have equal right of voicing them without a fear of legal penalties and social harassment. However our country is at a stage where each and every expression is viewed with acrimony and dudgeon and there are immediate obstreperous demands of ban or arrest. You never know which Facebook status of yours might affect a certain social group and the next time you check, you might be in prison.
Our government has very effectively kept up with the changing times and before being active on the social media themselves, they have started placing internet bans and social media censorships by keeping a tab on everything that is being written or shared on the internet. Against such infringement and invasion, there have been some very strong voices which have been raised effectively, one of them being “Save Your Voice” campaign by Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and journalist Alok Dixit, opposing the Information Technology Act of India and demanding democratic rules for internet and social media.

Basically, the point is that any Digvijay Singh or Lalit Modi can say anything anywhere without facing any legal action, which clearly proves how money, power and position work in this country since ages. We are all a helpless crowd. The rich and the powerful are now striking back even harder baffled by the Internet Democratisation that has brought together the youth of India. And the Youth of India is now raising a strong voice, which is loud enough to reach the people sitting at the very top.


Post a Comment