Censorship & Silence in India

24 Feb
  • “The three forces, God, Money, and the State, are using all the force at their disposal, to prevent ideas that challenge their belief, facts that undermine their wealth, and dissent that speaks truth to power, from flourishing. European law—which guarantees free speech but also guarantees the right of privacy—doesn’t help. Nor will most politicians. Only a handful of British parliamentarians have been firm in their support of overturning the libel laws (most would prefer tinkering with the legislation), just as no mainstream politician in India spoke up for Rushdie’s right to visit Jaipur, or speak to the festival through a video-link.

    That’s because India has another powerful force ranged against free speech: the vigilante, who will ransack a gallery, assault an artist, burn books, and attack theatres that show films he doesn’t want others to see. Most gods are happy with that; most people with money, therefore, wouldn’t take any risk; and most politicians jail the artist or the writer for disturbing the peace.”

    tags: free_speech freedom censorship salil_tripathi wp

  • All voices need to be heard. Silence some, you silence others; silence many, and you are left with only a few safe subjects, as the late Behram Contractor, or Busybee, noted about the emergency—cricket and mangoes.
    …At a time when prosecutors are considering charges against four authors and the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival, after the four read from The Satanic Verses, it is important for the government to remember the kind of state it is—letting writers speak, or letting rioters silence others.
    This profound conversation needs to begin. Our being able to express ideas, challenge one another and question beliefs establishes our humanity. Our ability to settle differences by talking through things, by moving away from conversations we don’t like, by being sceptical about claims we disagree with, and by letting others have their say so that we can have ours creates that virtuous circle that restores our dignity. Do away with that, and we belong to the Land of Chup, or silence, as Rushdie points out in Haroun and the Sea of Stories: “All those arguments and debates, all that openness, had created powerful bonds of fellowship… the Chupwalas (those from the silent land) turned out to be a disunited rabble, suspicious and distrustful of one another. The Land of Gup (talk) is bathed in endless sunshine, while over in Chup, it is always the middle of the night.”
    That afternoon it felt like dawn. It was the beginning for all of us to speak what we think, read what we want, and shut the book if it is not interesting. The choice should be ours, not of the state, or men (almost always men) who claim to speak in the name of gods.

    tags: free_speech freedom censorship salil_tripathi friends wp

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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Links


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