In India, right to free speech is violated four times a week

April 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

At least that is what first quarter of 2014 shows, based on the incidents tracked by The Hoot. The worst part of it is that in more than a quarter of the cases, it is the government and its agencies which are transgressing the fundamental right.

Free speech violation incidents in first quarter of 2014, categorised by source of infringement. Data from The Hoot.

Free speech violation incidents in first quarter of 2014, categorised by source of infringement. Data from The Hoot.

So for all the talk and fear of India potentially turning into a fascist state, following the paths of present Russia and Turkey, one must not forget: India has never been the land favourable to the liberals and free thinkers. Even The Constitution only allows “reasonable restrictions” to be put on freedom of its citizen, but really it is the interpretation of this inscrutable wording that results in conflicts. There is a wonderful essay by Patrick French in a recent issue of The Open Magazine, picking from there:

The difficulty with the shape that toleration now takes in India is not the theory, which remains admirable, but the practice. If artists are in trouble with outraged members of a religious group, they are at risk. If a film or a book is suppressed for spurious reasons by a politician or a court order, the state will do nothing at all to protect the right to liberty of expression. If Salman Rushdie appears at a public event, no ‘secular’ leader will go near him, for fear of contagion. A supposedly representative Hindu opponent of an academic book will use outmoded and imported Christian arguments against impiety, and ignore the expansive, eclectic traditions of Hinduism—in which devotion is too intense to be troubled by the petty misrepresentations of others.

 

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