FREEDOM OF SPEECH
By Mohan Shenoy
     India is a vast country with many
languages and cultures and over 1.2 crore
population. There are many religions and
sects and multitudes of traditions in different
stages of evolution. In the first few centuries
after Christ there was more influence of
ancient scriptures both from the West and
the East. Greek, Roman, Egyptian,
Byzantium, Chinese and Japanese cultures
had influences the thinking of Indians and
affected the administration of the different
kingdoms. The laws of the land have gone
along with the changes that occurred in the
thinking of the wise men with the effect that
crime and punishment differed. Christianity
and later Islam made enormous changes in
the path that the people took in their lives
and old ways were making space for new
ways of civilian duties and responsibilities.
               One of the important concepts
was independence of the people with
regards to their beliefs, rights to work and
earn, to get justice in a humanitarian
manner and to get to be considered
innocent until proved guilty, in any activity.
There arose the concept of democracy as
against autocracy. Both Communism and
Capitalism proclaimed democracy as their
preferred way of conduct of administration.
Capitalism gave vast rights to the people
including ownership of property especially of
land, business, intellect and finance.
Communism on the other hand considered
all assets of the country as belonging to the
administration and the benefits of labour of
the citizens should be distributed equally to
all.
               India is a socialistic country
wherein the principles of capitalism and of
communism are balanced by taking a middle
path. Whenever the administration wishes to
carry out a project for the benefit of the
citizens the rights of the individuals would
be compromised. For example if a house
stands in the way for building a road, then
the administration has a right to demolish a
part of whole of the house even if the owner
of the house is unwilling. In this socialistic
pattern of society democracy is vibrant. The
Constitution of India is a document which
guides the administration and provides both
right to personal property and also
independence in private life of the citizens.
               Democracy in India is the new
religion and overrides the rules of Hindu,
Sikh, Jain and other Indian religions.
However, the people following Christianity
and Islam are given special status so that
they are allowed to adopt the rules at their
religion in their lives. This creates
discrimination against the Hindus, Sikhs and
Jains. Even then the election of members of
parliament, members of state assemblies, of
local bodies etc., is common for all religions
with equal opportunity for their followers.
               One bone of contention is the
interpretation of freedom granted in the
Constitution in various activities which may
affect the life of the citizens. How far can the
administration tolerate protests and
agitations?
                Protests take place in the age-old
forms such as slogan-shouting,
placard-waving, dharna or sit-ins, fasting,
looting, arson, stone-pelting, shooting
fire-arms, etc., and the police are called to
prevent damage to public property and
incidents of injury or death to individuals.
   Even though there are guidelines and
restrictions imposed by the laws under the
Constitution individual incidents are not
entirely a repetition of the past methods. If
a citizen opts to draw pictures  that are
intended to damage the reputation or
cause severe injury to the beliefs of
another individual in his home in private
and not displaying the pictures in the
public then his act may not be considered
against the law. But if he choses to
display such pictures in public and people
who suffer injury to their reputation or
beliefs can file cases against the culprit in
a court of law.                         
     This is the realm of freedom of speech
and the extent one goes criticizing basic
national symbols such as the flag,
anthem, and festivals would determine if
one is an anti-national individual. Not just
the individuals that speak against the
country but also the groups of people who
organize anti-national activities have to
face the law and get punished. The
punishment prescribed is so ruthless that
it deters repetition of the activities by
others.
      If an individual says that Kashmiris
deserve Aazadi in the present situation
then he is speaking against India. If he
had said it inside his home privately then
no one will object. But if he gives a
speech to that effect say in a classroom in
a school or college then he is liable to be
booked for sedition. Kashmiris are
claiming different things depending upon
the region they live in  If they are living in
the Valley there are a larger number who
may want to secede. But those living in
Leh or in Jammu regions are not
interested in secession from India. In any
case Kashmir is an integral part of India
and therefore the wishes of a few people
living in the Valley can not be fulfilled.
     There are people who want freedom
of speech to be extended to even those
people who say such things as Aazadi be
given to the Kashmiris. It is not clear what
their motive is because they know very
well that Kashmir can not treated
differently any more than what is
prescribed in the Article 375 of the
Constitution.
    The Congress government preaches
pseudo secularism and easily
misinterprets freedom of speech. After
misinterpreting the meaning of democracy
at the beginning, the pseudosecularists
go on towards the end to accuse the state
governments of mishandling the case of
the wayward artists and thinkers. The
democracy which they talk about is not
true democracy but a democracy in which
the lunatic artists and thinkers who
habitually offend the Nation or the Hindu
community are allowed a free hand.

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YOUR CHOICE
Adyar Gopal Parivar
Freedom of Speech
KNOWLEDGE
LET US OPEN UP
ROLE OF RELIGION
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Adyar Gopal and Radha Bai
By Mohan Shenoy
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