A variety of opinions, views and acts are the central point of discussion in the name of freedom of speech in India ever since the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) came to power at the centre. In essence, it was a shock to the vested interests involved in subversive activities against the people and the nation. This government was unlike the Congress government under which exercise of the government authority by a minority of interest groups for their own growth at the cost of the silent and timid majority of the people created the impression that India is a banana republic ready to be grabbed by anybody who could practice deception, corruption, violence, dogma, inducement, allurement, jargon, rhetoric, foreign money, external influence, blackmail, wealth and wine to easily rule India again. They were not wrong as the Congress misrule of more than 50 years only validated their perception. It was the time when the majority of the people suffered the maximum, especially losing faith in the nation, people, civilization, culture, philosophy and beliefs. It created an unequal situation where some people exercised excessive freedom to say or do whatever they wanted, while those exercising minimal freedom of speech were furiously resented in a well orchestrated manner.
The media has not only played the most irresponsible part in creating such an ugly situation in India but carries on its negative activities unabated. It (newspapers & TV ) has never acted as an independent fourth limb of democracy in India. It has always acted partisan, maligning everybody speaking for and on behalf of the people or the nation. Partly it is due to its upbringing in the English environment. They are an anglicized lot. This section lacks in-depth knowledge and interest in Indian languages, texts, thoughts, traditions, customs, mores, taboos or practices. It thrives on some superficial idea about the English culture and tries to superimpose it on the Indian people without thinking even for a moment whether it is appropriate or inappropriate for them. But these media persons are able to speak the English language faster and more fluently than many Englishman. That gives them the easiest way to capture the news market and convert the status of the Fourth Estate into a thriving industry. It has no qualms of conscience in hitting left & right the majority of the people. It promotes hate speakers, jumps to the support of the most pernicious speakers, condemns neutral views abusing its monopoly of the media, gives sermons to whosoever does not agree with them, interpret ideas like the freedom of speech according to their own convenience, contributes to intellectual confusion and creates anarchy for selling sensational breaking news.
Does freedom of speech mean one can say whatever one wants to? Does freedom of speech mean abusing anybody? Is freedom of speech the sole right of a minority? Does it mean the majority has to suffer the non-stop onslaught of the minority in the name of freedom of speech? Is the freedom of speech of one different from the freedom of speech of another? In a clash between the two groups, who intervenes? Is it right to put in place necessary laws to regulate the freedom of speech? If there is some law in place, is it not the duty of everyone to respect and obey it? Do the professors or students in a university enjoy greater freedom of speech than an ordinary citizen? Is it freedom of speech to act as an agent of an enemy alien? Does it qualify to be freedom of speech to condemn the country for restrictions on anti-national activities at the behest of an enemy country? Can it be called freedom of speech for the intellectuals (real or assumed) to use undignified, intemperate, and vituperative language for the Head of the State, Head of the Government or other organs of the state like the judiciary, army or federal bank? Unfortunately in India, intellectual abuse of the children, adolescents and the youth has been the prime function of the political parties for furthering their agenda. The newspapers help them in disseminating foul ideas, foul language and foul action plans. Freedom of speech is extensively used by all of them for achieving this goal. This sly approach to impressionable minds makes many of the street children called “urchins” whereas the well educated well fed well spoken of the leaders and the elite become gentlemen and ladies to shoulder the onerous responsibilities of “political leaders” for serving the poor, especially street children! How do these politicians change their colours can be gauged from the fact that they are talk of the poor before elections but serve only their near ones after forming the government (chunaav ke pehle garibi chunaav ke baad karibi ke or chunaav ke pehle garibon ke chunaav ke baad karibon ke)
In effect, it is an attempt to beguile the young and distract them from seriously pursuing their studies. A half educated person makes a better party worker. Cast in an agitator’s mindset, s/he can contribute to instant strikes on university campus, where even imaginary restrictions on freedom of speech can be cited as curtailment of students’ rights and be given a spin by the content starved television channels followed by newspapers. The rest can be done by the social media cells of the political parties and their student wings on the campuses all over the country. What more can any political party ask for than lawlessness and chaotic situation in society?
In the name of freedom of speech, the very identity of the nation can be questioned, its constitution condemned, its government threatened and its territorial integrity and sovereignty challenged. Active participation of university professors, domestic and foreign, lends special charm to such agitations and makes hero of the student leaders. None of these students ever reaches the top position in her/his party. The performance of young spokespersons on the television proves only one point that the intellectual integrity of brilliant students gets terribly corrupted so fast in a political party that they seem to have bartered away their freedom of speech for ever for that insignificant political office. It makes one cringe to see even women performing that way, because a family or society is doomed if its women lose moorings or integrity.
Freedom of speech is the most valuable aspect of any strong and living culture. India is a country whose citizens have always enjoyed freedom of thought and expression and speech. It lost it when it lost its freedom itself. The Kutub Minar in Delhi, opposite the JNU, is a living testimony to the savage violence to the right to freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of worship when Kutubbudin Aibak, a slave of Mahamud of Gori left behind by him as a regent after defeating Prithviraj Chauhan, the king of Delhi, demolished more than 27 magnificent Hindu and Jain temples and built the minar using the debris. The iron pillar near the Kutub Minar is a marvel of the metallurgical prowess of the Hindu India as it has not rusted even though exposed to elements of nature. It was the grand pillar on which was hoisted the flag of a grand Krishna temple or Shiva temple as the place is near to the famous Kurukshtra. The height of the minar indicates that Kutubbudin was spurred to raise the height of his memorial higher than the temple post. The votaries of freedom of speech can never understand such a barbaric onslaught on freedom of speech and expression in creating magnificent structures in red stone and white marble as those 27 temples demolished by Kutubbudin Aibak to construct in their place such an ugly structure. It demands advance research in architecture and engineering of the temple building in ancient India. The Sun Temple at Konark, The Khajuraho Temples Complex, the Dilwara and Ranakpur jain temples, the temples in south India and the Maurayan creations of Didarganj Yakshi are testimony to Indian achievements in art, culture, architecture and beautiful temple building. History of that barbarity has partially repeated itself to some extent in the barbarity of the ISIS which all of us have silently witnessed without knowing how to end it. Even then, political parties like the Congress and the communists use the ISIS to intimidate the people of India in the name of freedom of speech. In present day India, there is no bar on anybody’s freedom of speech. The left parties, however, don’t allow other students, professors or visitors from the media or civil society to address the students on university campuses like the JNU, Jadhavpur University in West Bengal or the Hyderabad University. The leftists have promoted the cult of violence in India, especially in universities and colleges. They have been copied by others. Dissent and different points of views are meted violent treatment leading to death or serious disability. But there is justice for the victims of such acts if court of justice is approached. There is not one instance of denial of justice to anybody since 15th August 1947 in India. Those unconvinced are invited to cite any incident with full details to update their knowledge.
A valid question may be asked: if it is true that there is no bar on freedom of speech in India then why is there so much being said about it in the media? As detailed in the foregoing, it is a political agenda after the BJP formed the government and Narendra Modi entered office of the Prime Minister of India. He has upended the functioning style of the previous government of the Congress Party when he declared immediately after taking over as PM that he would neither act corrupt nor allow others to do so. He said it in Hindi and for the impact of the expression it needs to be reproduced here: “naa khaaungaa naa khaane doonga”, which was just the opposite of “khaao aur khaane do” (meaning eat and let others eat). He has proved by his subsequent functioning that he really meant it. That has upstaged thousands of agents of forces inimical to India and the majority of its people. These agents have been indulging in a vilification campaign against the prime minister. Freedom of speech is just one pretext. They started by roping in the literary awards winning writers to return the awards in the name of growing intolerance but licked dust when these so called writers were jeered by the people as those who had either bought these awards or got it as a measure of loyalty to the ruling party. They collected a lot of muck, including their friendly journalists of the press and television. It frustrated them terribly. Then they fell back on their tried methods of student agitations. Thinking that professors enjoyed great social respect and public trust, they made academicians to give statements that there was no freedom of speech in India. Unfortunately for them, they made a grave mistake in choosing the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) professors, who hardly fit into that description. The students they chose have made a mess of their political agenda by overshooting limits of public discourse and intellectual debate. These students, abetted and aided by their incompetent professors, converted the campus into a place in Pakistan by raising anti-India slogan and threatening to dismember the country. The professors displayed utter lack of knowledge and responsibility by making silly comments, thrilled by the presence of the captive audience, which encouraged them to talk like the several anti-India elements making fiery speeches against India from the Pakistani soil. This is not freedom of speech. They do not get paid heavy salaries to make such a fool of themselves publicly. In the privacy of their home, there is no objection to even this kind of madness, as there is no restriction on their remaining unclothed.
How does it matter if one believes in God or not? How is it anybody’s concern whether one follows one or the other religion? But nobody has the right to interfere with another person’s private affairs. To make it a right to freedom of speech to attack someone’s private affairs is not freedom of speech. All those foreign forces who were busy exploiting the freedom earlier now know that their unlawful activities must cease. There is no bar on their lawful activities. Do they enjoy that level of freedom of speech in any other country? Are they enjoying that level of equality in matters of thought, belief and expression anywhere else? They should be thankful to India for that level of equal treatment and freedom. There is no other society than the Hindu society which is so liberal, open and accommodating in the world. The world must recognize it and contribute to make it stronger. India neither seeks to extend its geographical territories nor increase its numbers by inducing others to join its population. The violence that the world has been witnessing since the First World War is the direct fall out of the unethical ambitions of nations to expand their geographical boundaries or populations.
It is time for the world to appreciate and acknowledge the values of the Panchsheel Doctrine of India so as to make the world a place to live in peace, happiness and harmony like a global family. The choice is of all those votaries of freedom of speech. Nobody should try to intimidate India in the name of freedom of speech. The next wave of attack on India’s liberal & open society will come not from one cult but a combination of cults who are mistaken to treat India as a market for all their foul ambitions beneath the veneer of freedom of speech. India is awake and strong enough to defend herself.