OPINION

Now You See It, Now You Don't

February 15, 2006
Aditya Kuber

China is censoring everything in sight. Pretty soon, your thoughts could also be censored if you are in China! But the recent ban of certain sites and types of sites by Google (at the behest of the Govt) is a serious attack on the right to freedom. But then, that's the fabric of the country.

To be fair, even in India, is there total freedom? Something as trivial as Valentine's Day is (has been since 2003) under the scanner by local organistions of national stature (yes, I mean that) to "protect" the cultural ethos of the country. What about when these very people are found drinking in the night and creating violence? Isn't non-violence the call from India? Isn't what they are doing against democracy? Ironically, democracy is the tool they use when they want to disallow anything democratic. Belive me, it is as cryptic as it sounds. Can't these groups do anything constructive?

From what I cannot see on TV to what I cannot handle in books and magazines... everything is spelt out for me. Am I really that stupid? And these (or their ilk) are the ones who go about bashing educational institutions like the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute because someone called James Laine wrote something about Shivaji. Would it not be better to prove it wrong than to demolish a heritage building? What did that prove? That we are still a bunch of baboons? No. because, as this author says, most of the people who have acted against this have not read the book. Maybe because they cannot? Perhaps. In fact, this has gone to the extent that an arrest warrant has been issued against him.

While these incidents may be dismissed as stray and the best way to deal with them would perhaps be said to be ignoring them, it hardly serves as a solution. Do I have to think everytime I want to say or do something? And now that the last standing bastion of total freedom - the Internet - is also being attacked, where does one go?

In many ways, India and China are more alike than apart. Unfortunately, these are not the good ways.

Can I write this openly any more? Can I criticise anyone or anything? Will I suffer for voicing my opinions?

Hope not.

Cross-posted on Scribbler On The Net

Aditya Kuber (a.k.a. The Scribbler) thinks he is a writer. Based in Mumbai/Bangalore/Pune, he can also be found blogging at Scribbler On The Net.
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

#1
Lakshmikanth
URL
February 15, 2006
02:06 PM

Aditya,
cannot agree more. Freedom of speech follows absolutely from Fundamental Rights.

its strange why any sect like those 'Prof Hunters', expect that everyone should respect what they hold to be pure. Thats outright stupid.

#2
Aaman
URL
February 16, 2006
12:51 AM

At least we can read you, for now:)

#3
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
03:43 AM

2 points i'd like to raise:

1. freedom of Speech is a fundamental right, but not an unrestricted one, nor an absolute one. You can not malign or offend people and get away with it. people can always sue u , and u r responsible for what you speak.

2. And these (or their ilk) are the ones who go about bashing educational institutions like the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute because someone called James Laine wrote something about Shivaji

Protest are becoming more and more uncivilised, but while one criticise those by hindu fundamentalists, why not criticise those agains t prophet cariacatures, and those by striking AAI workers? Double standards!!

#4
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
03:58 AM

Mayank, if freedom of speech is restricted in any way, its not really 'free' is it? Besides, who is it who will decide whether speech is offensive or not? Anything and everything can and will have offensive connotations for someone or the other.

#5
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
04:06 AM

But maligning is a very clear cut thing, isn't it? If you have got your facts wrong, or are saying things without proof, or perpetualing lies (as Laine was), don't you think action becomes necessary?

And talking about freedom of expression, if its absolute, why haven't Indian media shown the prophets cartoons, and why is satanic verses banned in India?

#6
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
04:16 AM

Is it really? If i accuse X of murder, it will boil down to evidence. But if someone alleges prophet Y of religion X to be a paedophile based on 'facts' evidenced by religion X's scriptures, is it maligning or offending? Is it true or false? Is it verifiable or falsifiable at all?

#7
Aditya Kuber
URL
February 16, 2006
04:19 AM

I completely agree with Mayank and would like to add that the protests around the world against the cartoons are rather silly. Yes, there are religious implications there, but how someone expresses himself is his business. Political leaders time and again 'speak out' offensively against various religions.
What is really amusing about all protests, though, is that someone in say the Middle East is destroying property in his own country to register his/her protest against the cartoons. Whom did the protest really affect? Same logic applies to what happened at BORI. The protestors have eventually hurt their own country(ies).

#8
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
04:33 AM

Mayank, you're confusing "how things are" with "how things should be".
And talking about freedom of expression, if its absolute, why haven't Indian media shown the prophets cartoons, and why is satanic verses banned in India?

This is how things are. BUT, how things should be is that The Satanic Verses should be available freely. MF Hussain should be allowed to paint nude religious figures freely.

#9
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
04:43 AM

No I disagree. Call me old-fashioned, but religion is sacrosanct, and one may criticise rituals and orthodoxy all they want, but has no right to depict others gods in negative light against the accepted norms. Offenders should be punished. however, such potrayal doesn't give any community the right to become violent.

#10
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
04:47 AM

Mayank, religion is nothing but a set of opinions and perceptions in the minds of the religious. How can opinions be sacrosanct?

#11
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
05:03 AM

beg to differ again. These are not perceptions of people, but codes of conduct that are believed to have come down from gods themselves.
Hence for a believer faith is everything.

#12
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
05:09 AM

Mayank, the operative word here is "belief". These are beliefs, but their veirifiability is pretty much non-existent. So why are they sacrosanct?

#13
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
05:23 AM

These are beliefs, but their veirifiability is pretty much non-existent.

I don't think you understand the term 'faith'.

To quote douglas adams, "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
faith doesn't need verifiability, and vice-versa.

#14
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
05:28 AM

Mayank, ever heard of FSM?

#15
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
05:35 AM

lol!
gr8 read but now u r confusing issues. I m not talking about correctness of faiths. All I m trying to say is that all faiths need to be respected, esp. in a multireligious (not secular) country like ours.

U r free to believe what ever you want to, i m free to think whatever i want to, but both of us need to respect each others opinions, even if we don't agree with them.

#16
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
05:39 AM

Mayank, why?
If i believe that pasta is holy, will you respect that? Will you stop eating pasta?

The point is, the number of people believing in something does not testify to its true-ness. Religious beliefs are held sacrosanct only because of the numbers involved. For me, offending one person is no different from offending 1 billion in principle.

#17
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
05:51 AM

Ok, so you don't mind offend one billion people, even if it leads to loss of property, life, and economic progress? What good comes out of such right of expression?

If i believe that pasta is holy, will you respect that? Will you stop eating pasta?

No but i won't make fun of your pasta worshipping habits. Cow is holy to me, i don't eat beef, but I don't stop others from eating it. But i will be offended if a my cow-worship is potrayed in an insulting manner.

#18
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
05:55 AM

Mayank,
Ok, so you don't mind offend one billion people, even if it leads to loss of property, life, and economic progress? What good comes out of such right of expression?

Does my offending them imply that they go berserk? Or does it say anything about their caveman thought processes?

#19
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
05:59 AM

As said earlier, nothing gives people the right for violence. However, since you are a big believer in freedom of expression, even this is one form of expressing one's feeling, are u going to support this?

#20
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
06:13 AM

Mayank, are you trying to equate words to physical violence?

#21
mayank
URL
February 16, 2006
06:19 AM

No, unless u want to consider it that way, but words are equally capable of harming, as we all know, and all I ask is to be judicious in the choice of ones words.

#22
Ambar
URL
February 16, 2006
06:28 AM

Mayank, words are not capable of harming in themselves. Words can cause certain cavepeople to go berserk though. So who is to blame, the words or the cavepeople?

Add your comment

(Or ping: http://desicritics.org/tb/464)

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.






Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!