The Offended Indian and Freedom of Expression

Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his latest op-ed Silencing of liberal India discussed about the latest book ban ,Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. 

He says that the argumentative Indian is being replaced by the offended Indian.

Liberal India has been silenced because the one institution that needs to protect it constantly fails: the courts. Civil society and politics have a lot to answer for. But the incentives to mobilise around the banning of books have largely been created by the laws and by the convoluted jurisprudence of the courts. A law that signals that it is open to banning books will incite mobilisations to ban books. If the state gives the category of taking easy “offence” such aid and succour, offence will be easily taken.

His opinion is supported by facts, India is not as liberal as it wants the world to think of it , we have a very narrow minded political parties,more interested in protecting their vote bank rather than promoting the values of constitution . He warns us

But if Liberal India dies, Hinduism will die as well.

the cases are innumerable,M.F. Husain’s paintings, Taslima Nasreen’s novels and articles, Deepa Mehta’s Fire and Water, Jaswant’s Singh’s book on Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and Pakistan’s cricketers playing in India.

people are offended so easily ,99% of them don’t even read those books but they still want them to ban it .  Kenan Malik in his opinion in the Hindu Changing landscape of free speech shares the story of how Ayotollah Khomeini issued his fatwa on Salman Rushdie, for the “blasphemies” of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses  and how this  affair became the most important free speech controversy of modern times.

he says by deciding to not ban the book Peter Mayer the CEO of Penguin at the time realized was what is at stake is

“much more than simply the fate of this one book. How we responded to the controversy over The Satanic Verses would affect the future of free inquiry, without which there would be no publishing as we knew it, but also, by extension, no civil society as we knew it.”

he concludes most wonderfully

It is everybody’s business to ensure that no one is deprived of their right to say what they wish, even if it is deemed by some to be offensive. If we want the pleasures of pluralism, we have to accept the pain of being offended.

the following are the sources from the Hindu archives the sheer number of movie and book bans makes one wonder how liberal is this country ?

The case of Vishwaroopam Ban this Hindu editorial states that Madras High Court in land mark judgement S. Rangarajan vs. P. Jagajivan Ram observes that  it was the duty of the state to protect the right to unpopular forms of speech, the court held that

“freedom of expression cannot be suppressed on account of threat of demonstration and processions or threat of violence.”

also read : Not playing at a theatre near you

How MP’s wasted a day in Parliament on Ambedkar Cartoon issue The comic republic.

SOLI J. SORABJEE on The rising menace of intolerance Freedom of expression will continue to remain under siege unless all groups accept that people can have different opinions and beliefs in a free country.

PRAVEEN SWAMI Using hate to challenge modernism The recent violence over an anti-Islam film is part of a wider clash with the idea of the modern republic.

as Voltaire said

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

this is my stand on the issue , every body should be allowed to say what they want , as a modren and progressive society we should be more tolerant and accommodate all kinds of ideas and opinions.

The Political parties and their supportive groups should not use the books and movies ban as a spring board to launch their campaigns or careers of their heirs . I wish to see that India where the freedom of expression is placed above all narrow interests and the artistic creativity is given full freedom.

Leave a Reply