Tuesday, October 26, 2010

India and the notion of freedom of speech

Kashmir is a weak pulse for India.  Anything related to Kashmir evokes dramatic emotions among the politicians and the countrymen alike.  It's natural, for we have been hardwired, through education and propaganda, that Kashmir is a matter of pride and honor for us.  True, it is.  But the forced innateness has caused us to be dogmatic and intolerant towards any opinion voiced in favor of separatism. 
I personally am against a separate Kashmir as it is an integral part of India, but at that same time I want to make the point that any opinion in favor of a separate Kashmir should be dealt with politically, rather than emotionally and provocatively. Right winged nationalists, befitting their nature, threaten violence in such cases. 

Such a case is the recent comments by rights activist Arundhati Roy.  She said that Kashmir was never a part of India historically.  These comments were received very critically by the media and the government.  No harm, as a democratic society gives its citizens freedom to be critical of persons and policies, but the threats that have been hurled at her are against the rudiments of the Indian constitution in specific, and democracy in general. 

Government is gearing up to file sedition charges against her, perhaps under public pressure.  What I have to say here is that in a free democratic society, which has pledged under oath while framing constitution to provide the freedom of speech a cover of law, cannot reproach such actions by activists.  They have the full right to voice their opinions and be free from fear, for a true liberal society is the one where it's safe to be unpopular. Threats will only dilute our strong commitments towards human rights and freedom.  I say file charges against her, but not to seek revenge, but only clarification.  She should not be treated with hostility, neither should be Geelani