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February 9, 2009

”There are two freedoms – the false, where a man is free to do what he likes;
the true, where he is free to do what he ought.
~Charles Kingsley

Freedom…that is the word going through my mind since the past few hours.
A rather interesting discussion has been going on a friend’s blog.One who write fearlessly on diverse issues,specially those pertaining to Islam which she deals with quite sensitively.Thank you for sharing all that you do Nimmy.:)
It was a discussion on her blog that I jumped into with both feet…and with a heart full of conviction ,that I too had something to share.:)
What is freedom?
Freedom can be of different kinds.
Rather than gettting into the different kinds of freedom and all that they entail,I would first like to just share what our Constitution says about this word called ‘freedom’.
The preamble first.

The Preamble states:

The original Preamble to the Constitution of India.“ WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN
SOCIALIST`[Note 1] SECULAR[Note 1] DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity[Note 1] of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY

Please note that,The preamble delineates the basic structure of the Constitution of India. It does not contain laws enforceable in a court but, no law can be enacted or amended in a manner that violates the spirit of the preamble.

The Preamble lays down the most important national goals which every citizen and the government must try to achieve — justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Are you with me till now?:)
Good:)Lets proceed further.

The Fundamental Rights in India enshrined in the Part III of the Constitution of India guarantee civil liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony as citizens of India. These include individual rights common to most liberal democracies, such as equality before law, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom to practice religion, and the right to constitutional remedies for the protection of civil rights by means of writs such as habeas corpus.
The six fundamental rights are:

Right to equality
Right to freedom
Right against exploitation
Right to freedom of religion
Cultural and educational rights
Right to constitutional remedies

Now that we have discussed the rights,of which freedom somehow is always topmost on our minds.It is almost like we are obsessed with it,like we suffer from a paranoia that a little slip and it will be snatched away from us.
That’s good because that keeps us on our toes and is also our duty as a citizen.How?
Lets see:)

AS a citizen, besides the duties of voting,paying taxes,serving in the armed forces when the need arises and obeying the laws of the land,there are other moral and ethical duties too…
1)demonstrating commitment and loyalty to the democratic political community and state
2)constructively criticizing the conditions of political and civic life
3)participating to improve the quality of political and civic life
4)respecting the rights of others
5)defending one’s own rights and the rights of others against those who would abuse them .
Now ,I am pretty sure that all Indians do this rather enthusiastically particularly the second point(though its constructiveness is debatable)

Reasonable restrictions can be imposed in the interest of public order, security of State, decency or morality.

The government restricts these freedoms in the interest of the independence, sovereignty and integrity of India. In the interest of morality and public order, the government can also impose restrictions.

Right to freedom of religion, covered in Articles 25, 26, 27 and 28, provides religious freedom to all citizens of India. The objective of this right is to sustain the principle of secularism in India. According to the Constitution, all religions are equal before the State and no religion shall be given preference over the other. Citizens are free to preach, practice and propagate any religion of their choice.

Please note that the objective is to sustain secularism.

Now of course we all know that no government (doesn’t matter which political party)
does any such thing!
The government merely sits back like a passive spectator and enjoys the show.
If the government did all that it was supposed to do,do you think Babri would have happened?
Wouldn’t all those mad ,crazy kar sevaks have been locked up even before they could reach the city?
But this is India.And as you say there is no curb on freedom.
Do what you want ,say what you want…you have freedom without responsibility,a freedom that is unchecked.
And so it was with the Babri case.Hundreds of goons were let in by both parties….one pseudo secular ,the other a saffron brigade and there was no stopping of the kar sevaks.
Freedom of course.
”What can we do?”,The governments said and shrugged, State and Centre both,each waiting to see how this would play out,each letting this pass in the name of freedom.
Come on,these guys were just assembling in a small town!What harm could they do? They told us.
Well…we saw what havoc they created.
DO you see what kind of madness ensues in the name of liberty?In the name of letting goons run riot ,simply unchecked?

Now,this whole discussion and this rather long ramble on the consitution started as a question that a blogger friend raised which went thus,”I am against moral brigade being the guardian of any religion. Religion should be able to ignore and rise above all taunts and provocations. Otherwise what is the purpose of religion?”

Pray ,let us just pause for a moment here shall we?I would love to know the last time that this ,the scenario above that is,happened.Do tell.I am most eager to hear it.
Actually there were two questions.,that the friend raised.
1)Do you think then that all writers and painters should get prior approval from there self styled saviours of religion?
2)Are their religions so weak and frail that a work of art will destroy it?

We will come to these two questions later.The whole post revolves around them.

But there was another statement.One which I thought tarred us all with the same brush.
Us,the ones who call for some limits to freedom.

”your argument is the typical victim blaming argument of fundamentalists. Then you should not attack rama sena. Their sentiments were hurt seeing hindu girls in skin showing costumes drinking and dancing in bars”

Anyway let’s leave that aside for a moment and proceed yet further.We will come back to these later.

So I say,fair enough and I know this blogger friend knows what he is talking about because I have been to his blog and quite simply I do agree with a lot of things said there….

But,how can one just make a statement, a rather sweeping one at that,that religion HAS to be ABLE to rise above all this pettiness?And that once that is done ,things will be all right?Of course they will be because such a day will never come.It would be a veritable Utopia!

Hasn’t one seen what havoc religions can cause?Then how can one still make this statement?

As an atheist, in so much so that I have been able to understand that word,let me assure you that even religions like Buddhism and Jainism did not appear as if by magic.They were a direct result of Brahmanical patriarchy and suppression in other forms.And look at their state today.One is fighting for survival grappling with displaced refugees,the other is filled with sundry mahatmas and gurus. No religion till now has been able to acheive this feat that my friend speaks of.
No religion has even tried.
Maybe some time in the future, a day will come when religions will be able to rise above all this.
Till that happens ,let us treat religion with kid gloves, shall we?

So much for religions rising above everything.Religions are the CAUSE of all the strife in the world.
A Muslim fights to be a martyr,to kick out all the kaffirs,he follows only Allah,a Hindu thinks destroying a centuries old mosque will bring back his little itsy temple to its full glory,that Rama will indeed smile from the heavens and bless him.
A Sikh thought he could carve out a separate state.

So, I repeat when has religion been able to rise above petty things?

Give me one such example and I will be more than satisfied.
I am all for personal freedom.And I would fight for yours too.

But only if it is justified.You cannot in all justification paint/draw/create an artwork or write sommething that is just a figment of your imagination (as all art works are)but ALSO has the potential of offending someone,or an entire religious community or people of a land.

When you talk of absolute freedom ,please let me intervene and clarify that the word freedom itself is bound within restrictions.Freedom with responsibility.
Freedom with a sense that you are a part of a society ,one that could go up in flames at the very mention or glimpse of your work/deed/creation.

Are they crazy all of them?These people who would give up their lives and kill each other all in the name of religion?Or in the name of a work that simply offends their senses?
Of course ,as any sane human being knows.They are led by mob madness.If they were not,we would have had more people who would be totally nonchalant about what a Hussain draws or what a Danish cartoon represents.

But the reality is not so..
And this is why one has to work ,live,create,draw,paint keeping all this in mind.

Because the moment, you as an artist as a creative soul or even as a simple human being refuse to recognize that others exist and create only for yourself,then you cease to be a part of the world that comprises of other human beings.

And if you create only for yourself as all creative people claim to do,then for god’s sake keep that artwork however beautiful it is to yourself.
Keep it in your personal space.Display it for your visitors,to your friends …heck!hang it in the drawing room,but don’t show it to the world….becasue you never created it for us did you?

If for some reason you do feel the need to put up something kinky or a fetish that you have always had,then as an artist keep it within the confines of your walls.
Or better yet take a look at the society around you and then decide.
If,however you do decide to display this work,then be prepared to wacth madness unfold.
It takes only a spark to set off fires that engulf whole societies.

There is freedom and then there is freedom as a friend most dearest says, and she is right.:)

Freedom in your personal sphere is all fine by me.Even by the law.(unless ofcourse you are running a mafia in your house or making a bomb or two,THEN we would have problems)But otherwise all things being equal I am all for this personal freedom that you crave for.

However,Public space is another matter.Totally different and very,vERY hazardous.
The best of us slip.
How would you like to have a leader one who is very competent ,very able ,very good human being otherwise(he/she never thinks of murdering someone ,has never done so,is not corrupt and is really honest in all his/her public affairs)

BUT,and here’s the catch…this leader you see, is a rather creative person… who likes to paint….
One day he will draw the Prophet having sex,the next day a Hindu goddess would be painted naked engaged in some creative pursuit (all very artistically of course)
But he is also leading the country forward and how!The country is progressing by leaps and bounds.He/she just has this one kink.

Do you see the dilemna here?Now you as a very enlightened soul and being a very liberal minded individual, might still be okay with it.As I am.

But what about the millions of others for whom their gods and goddesses,their religion is the only solace?
Will they be able to understand this ‘Creative freedom’ that you speak of?Will all the progress in the world make them forgive this nice human being?
Would you rather let a country go up in flames so that one person’s creative freedom survives?
Wouldn’t it be better if the person simply realises and becomes aware that people are rather sensitive and could be hurt by what he draws?

I am not talking of any moral poice or any hooliganism in the name of restrictions on freedom.
Freedom is never absolute.There are always conditions attached to it.



Your freedom has to respect the freedom of others,respect their feelings,their sentiments.
Your freedom also has to keep in mind the fact,that your actions no matter how inconsequential,can or might in all probability hurt the sentiments of others.

To quote what I have emphasised elsewhere,
”I fail to see the need why CREATING ONLY A PARTICULAR piece of art pertaining to a RELIGION would satisfymy creativity and nothing less…
WHY?AS an artist is my creativity that limited?Can I only attract attention by drawing that which might incite riots(whether right or wrong)by doing exactly that which I know will result in a loss of life?
My duty as an artist is to create,…yes…But my FIRST duty is towards ensuring that lives are not lost,that tensions do not arise BECAUSE of what I create….

I cannot escape the deaths that have happened because of me ,the blood that is on my hands merely by saying that this is artistic freedom….
And in this Dystopian world, Freedom is only judged and allowed to the extent that it does not take yet another life…
The moment it takes another life ,no matter what the cause..
Then the very same creative ARTIST BECOMES A MURDERER.
and no amount of saying that this was done in the name of artistic freedom is going to convince me otherwise… ”

This then was my view.

Freedom with boundaries.

Freedom of expression as it is being practised in India ,indeed has been practiced…is very convoluted in a lot of ways.

I think freedom should have limits and that some people might get offended by what another paints/makes/creates/says,and
therefore the artist/speaker/ should act responsibly.

Responsibly how?Well by choosing a subject that he/she knows will be beautiful ,creative and not offensive.
I find it very difficult to believe that the only subjects that inspire and are left in this world are all offensive or controversial.
Why can you not pick another ‘inspiration’?
I know it will pain your creative heart so…but please do try it for the sake of humanity,so that people dont burn embassies and go on rampages.
Mad all of them ,I know,but please do bear with the ignorant souls..

Now,Based on this belief of mine I was asked that it must be then okay for me to let go of the Shri Ram Sena goons??
Because you see I unlike others do not club people or incidents under one umbrella or group,nor are my definitions binding and tight knit..

What did the Shri Ram Sena do?
They were beating up girls because they did not like what they were wearing and what they were drinking.
To me this looks like a clear case of human rights violation.
I don’t know what it looks like to you.
The girls were in a personal space.They were enjoying ‘THEIR’ personal freedom,one which was not in a public domain.
They were in a space where other like minded individuals were sitting .
It was these men who barged into that space and then claimed to have been offended(offended enough to beat them?)

It is the equivalent of barging into an artist’s house ,his/her personal space ,tear a painting off the wall of his home ,claim that it offends and then proceed to beat up the artist.
Now these men could have registered their protest by filing an FIR ,perhaps citing obscenity and god knows what else,(as others like them hounded Khushboo)but they infringed upon the personal freedom of these girls ,the moment they laid a hand on these girls.

A woman in Pakistan is stoned to death because she was supposed to be having an extra marital affair…
Now you might throw my logic back in my face and say sarcastically that ”oh!but the men were offended by what she did”

I, however, file this away also under a clear violation of human rights .
A life was taken .Period.Who were these men who intruded into her personal space?She did not intrude into theirs did she?ANd yet she was killed.Killed!Do you realize how absurd this looks in contrast to what we are talking about?

I do not see the world in black or white.I see many shades of grey.I cannot make sweping generalisations and put the Danish cartoon and the shri ram sena hooliganism in the same category.
One offended sentiments.
The other was about brutal ,physical assault in broad daylight.
Where is the confusion?

Ultimately all artists create and put their works in the public space for fame/recognition/money. There is no fourth option.
If the artists were truly just creative souls creating for themselves and no other,then they would have kept these creations within the confines of their own house,taking it out of the box from time to time,dusting it lovingly and gazing at it fondly.
But they have to eat and put food in their bellies.Hnece the drama and controversy,for in this world where fame is just a fleeting mirage ,what better way to do it?

Freedom is limited by choice.Choices negate freedom as opposed to, when one thinks, that to have choices is to have freedom.In this case ,that is of India,the choices are rather limited because of the society we live in,choices are usually ‘either’ & ‘or’.

Whatever your personal opinions might be ,the moment you are in the public space,in the public eye,in the limelight ,holding a place of responsibility ,one where a lot of faces look up to you,please handle that responsibility that you have been given with the utmost care.

One has to learn to work within those boundaries.And keep testing them from time to time to see how much can they be stretched.But not at the cost of lives.

I agree with Neitzche when he says,
”Freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves.”
~Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, 1888

But that responsibility if left to each individual to decide would result in chaos.
The government should keep law and order,should punish those who seek to disrupt peace and should in rare cases, decide if a particular work should be taken out of the public arena because it threatens to disrupt the peace and stability of the nation.
But which government has ever done that.?
SO it is back to our own self imposed restrictions and a sensitivity that we have to cultivate.
No moral police is required at all.

”The fact, in short, is that freedom, to be meaningful in an organized society must consist of an amalgam of hierarchy of freedoms and restraints.
~Samuel Hendel

Freedom without boundaries will lead to a society that will be nothing less than dystopian(as it still is)instead of the Utopia that you dream of.

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.
~George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, “Maxims: Liberty and Equality,” 1905
Just one question.
If freedom was indeed intended to be absolute ,then why have all the founding fathers of democratic countries ,left a system of checks and balances with us?
Did they not trust us you think?:D

Of what use is that unbridled freedom that seeks to devour our nation?
Please have boundaries and limits and do not be such a liberal that you forget ,that there indeed are other human beings who do not think such exalted thoughts as you and instead do get offended when their gods are insulted.

MORE ON FREEDOM HERE AND HERE and a very coherent viewpoint HERE
Make sure you read it.Whatever your inclination,it will leave you with something to think about.:)

51 Comments leave one →
  1. Charakan permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:05 am

    Thank you for continuing the discussion.I am too sleepy [230am here] to read it now.Will read and comment later.

  2. Biju Mathews permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:15 am

    Wow! This was long and impressive. The points well put with due diligence. You could easily be a lawyer!

    I really, really hope Muthalik starts blogging and reads this all up.

    God bless and keep blogging!

  3. Indyeah permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:20 am

    Charakan..:)lol!okay!great to know a discussion is on though I am in the nail biting stage now:D
    *oh lord what did I get into?*

    two differing viewpoints and a healthy discussion though I dothink I and Charakan do have a common meeting point somewhere..:)

  4. Solilo permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:42 am


    Just swifted through the post. I will come back and read it in detail then jump right into the discussion 🙂

    I am sure in the end all of us will see each other’s view point. Our means are different but the aim is same.

  5. Sagarone permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:51 am

    Very good post, Indyeah. You have very ably made your points. Freedom with accountability, is what I support too. Accountability in the sense that my enjoying my freedom should not cause hurt or anguish to anyone or diminish anybody else’s freedom.

  6. Ajit permalink
    February 9, 2009 1:23 pm

    The most misunderstood and most flexible word in the whole world is “Religion”….

    we all have different intepretations of it and it has caused havoc all over…..

    what you say is right, freedom with responsibility is important, otherwise we are good as animals….
    A great post…. 🙂 made me think, got me confused a bit as well. LOL

    by the way things are going, I am going to start a new religion…. and convert all Indians to it….. then we can live happily with a single religion!!!
    It will have something from every religion and should appeal to the Materialistic world as well… 🙂

  7. Usha Pisharody permalink
    February 9, 2009 3:09 pm

    As Biju Mathews says, you could well be a lawyer [seriously :)]for so well do you present your arguments, and sum up at the end so so beautifully.

    Freedom is nothing but anarchy if one is not responsible and accountable for it. It boils down to things as simple as that. But it sometimes requires and step by step explanation, of the kind, leading one by the hand, and showing things in the light of rationality, to actually make one experience it.

    A very very mature post, that has so many torches shining lights from different angles, and yet giving the subject it’s due spotlight!

    Wonderful work!

    And yes, one needs to draw a line somewhere, when it comes to freedom bashing, whichever, even by bloggers, if their purport is twisted 🙂 🙂 To Equate the Ravan SEna to anything to do with Freedom has to be the limit. As you mention rightly, it is first and foremost an act of a criminal, and then basic human rights violation. Religion comes no where in the picture!

  8. hitch writer permalink
    February 9, 2009 6:05 pm

    The matter of the fact is these sena's are not opposing pub culture…

    no no…

    what is evident is they are trying to control women…

    If they want to oppose pub culture why not beat up all the men too who frequent these pubs…

    request all to stop calling these swines moral police..

    they arent they are just publicity seeking perverts, the more limelight they get the more weird & outrageous they become…

  9. hitch writer permalink
    February 9, 2009 6:07 pm

    Freedom to my naive mind is doing what I want as long as I am not harming or offending others.

    I am almost a non religious man, but if tomorrow I were to take up Christianity or be a Muslim it should not be any one else’s business.

    We still have a long way to go before we actually become free.

    Constitution is framed but not implemented…. unfortunately

  10. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    February 9, 2009 6:08 pm

    This is a very thought provoking post. Freedom, liberty…nothing is absolute…they carry with them the burden of reciprocating social responsibility. That is something which is not understood across the spectrum properly. You have spoken well, spoken honestly and spoken responsibly. Hope some of our leading lights read what you have written and learn.

  11. manju permalink
    February 9, 2009 6:41 pm

    Indyeah- w+ll researched and well- written post.

    “Religion should be able to ignore and rise above all taunts and provocations. Otherwise what is the purpose of religion?”-
    I would like to answer this if I may-

    In my opinion the purpose of religion is not to rise above all taunts and provocations.

    In my opinion the purpose of religion is to show us a way of living that will enable us to have a clear conscience.

    Followers of any religion are ordinary people who want a way of life that enables them to do something positive in their lives.

    Any religion, as far as I know, lays emphasis upon duties as well as rights. We are far too quick to forget that.

    As for the Ram Sene- why it that considered representative of the Hindu religion?

  12. Charakan permalink
    February 9, 2009 7:29 pm

    Indyeah, let me start the debate again,
    You said about the Mangalore pub attack
    “It is the equivalent of barging into an artist’s house ,his/her personal space ,tear a painting off the wall of his home ,claim that it offends and then proceed to beat up the artist”
    Good i agree. But if the painting was on the wall of a private Gallery and they do the same thing you blame the victim, the artist.That is hypocrisy.
    Now look at an imaginary situation. You are the person who decides what hurt hindu sentiments and what do not hurt the hindu sentiments.
    You are watching a film in which a christian actor acting as a hindu priest spits on the hindu idol. Will it hurt the ‘hindu’ sentiments?
    A painter draws a hindu temple showing devotees consuming alcohol infront of it.Will it hurt the hindu sentiments?
    Will come again to comment later.

  13. nimis540 permalink
    February 9, 2009 7:32 pm

    Hey hey,this is a great post..Some thoughts..First of all,i would say that there is some inconsistency in whole. The intial thoughts on Hussain and all is based on that they hurt others sentiments.

    True,agreed..What about work of Taslim,Lajja,and a book(forgot its name) based on inside stories of women abuse in Saudi kingdom .Both of these were banned,in the name of hurting sentiments of both nationalists and religious people.Now that both these books have lot of truth inside them,should they be banned,simply for the sake of satisfying my ego?? now,who sets limits here?

    Secondly,when you tal;k about Sri RS,you said that it is fight against human rights,one’s persoanl space. This is crazy discussion,but there is no such thing as absolute personal space.We don’t live in islation,but move collectively in what we call society.Am i right ot worng? Now that we live in a society,don’t we have the responsibility,like what you said -freedom with responsibility,so that we don’t miuse our personal freedom.

    As like the example you said about religion,the same logic holds tru here too honey..Drunk people have no control over mind and body,and they make problems not only to themselves,but also to people around,don’t they? A drunk husband is excercising his freedom of expression,is he? He has the right to use his personal space,and as a human,he has the right to get drunk..But when he comes home and beats his wife,has his alchocolism
    affected another person’s personal space?We are not living in Utopia where one gets drunk and still ahve full control over mind and body.Now we say ‘Drink in limits’..Who sets limits here??

    You and me (i said so bcoz your thgoughts are exactly mine)contradict each other in two instances-but you justify one as responsible expression,other as human right,but is there really a difference between both?

    Now you ask me what my stand is,lol,i don’t know..I am confused… But i appreciate and i loved your have written exactly my thoughts..But as i said,there is some contradiction in our thoughts..

    My head is burning and expelling fumes 😦

  14. Nimmy permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:13 pm

    In no way am i against pubs or any sort of recreation..I am against stereotypig oubs as Bars where people come to drink alone..

    But the problem here is,as per a report in TOI,the legal age to go to a pub is 25(assuming that people grow mature by 25),but currently,60% of pub goers are below 25..Now one may argue that we have the freedom of right,ever since we are born into this world…But what should be done when minors go to pubs?Do they have the maturity to make choices,responsible choices? So now,who makes choices for them?When parents do it,obviously by preventing them from going to pubs,are they infringing kid’s personal space and human rights??

    the more we talk of this,the more complicated it is,…

  15. Nimmy permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:17 pm

    Many days back,we had a news on police raiding and arreesting many boys and girls from a luxury pub,i thik Shakti kapoor’s son was invloved,and later it was found that most of them were using drugs..Nevremind,but why didn’t anybody come out in support of those boys and girls for excercising their freedom of personal space and human right to enjoy..

  16. Nimmy permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:18 pm

    My thoughts aren’t organized..I am just thinking aloud..Do correct me if i am wrong..

  17. Nimmy permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:24 pm

    Sorry for commenting again and again..

    We can see lot of contradictions around dear..For instance,the name barber in Billu barber is seemed offensive by some people ,and SRK has removed it from the title..Now tell me how jsutified is that..Shall i call barbers,hair-cutting specialist?or cutters?

    In my thought,the end point is what Charakn said,if we start setting limits,everbody will push their agendas into the system,and finally freedom will be in Guantanamo jail..

  18. Solilo permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:35 pm

    Abhi, First let me applaud you for a well researched and well presented post. I know exactly where you are coming from.

    I don’t know which ones to quote from your post because I have to say so many things so I would just say that I concur with you at every point.

    Now I will just say things in general. For past 50 + years we have seen India going through many changes and then come 90s and emergence of religion and caste based parties. Any reason why it caught the momentum? Yes! People felt stifled under one single govt. for too long. They needed change and most started seeing right through the pseudo-secular party. A party whic thrived by fooling the minority.

    What does the religious and caste based parties do? They follow the same rule as the pseudo-secular party of ages and manipulate people the same way. The division was created eons ago it just go flared. Both parties face of same coin. There is no lesser evil. Both devils.

    It has become a fashion these days to bash up anything remotely connected with Hinduism and give an excuse of years of suppression. How can anyone be suppressed for years under pseudo-secular govt? There were no Saffron brigade then. Was there? Violent acts have no excuse. NEVER. If violence was an excuse then we would be seeing Kashmiri Pandits too terrorizing people. No one cares about them in India anymore. Not Saffron, Not Green, Not Red.

    While agitation against MF Hussain is easily attributed yet again to ‘Saffron’ brigade no one I see speaking about the violent response to Danish caricature of Prophet. Why did MF Hussain chose to draw only Hindu goddesses in controversial positions with animals? Why not Mother Mary or Prophet? What would have happened to him then? Would Bishops have joined hand to praise MF Hussain had he drew something about Mary? If they proptested would it be still call…I don’t know which color to atttribute here..Saffron and Green are already taken.

    MF Hussain would have met with the same treatment which the cartoonist got. Buses were burned and shops were ransacked in Pakistan and other Islamic cities protesting the cartoon. Most people reacted because it was against a religion which has large number of followers. Why weren’t they termed as goons or Islamic fanatics? Why when it comes to opposing MF Hussain’s TRP raising drawings, it is easily termed as RSS goon attack by the pseudo-seculars? I am no RSS supporter and I am not a pseudo-secular. I am a citizen of the world who hates this hypocrisy.

    How much freedom is too much someone asked? I will give a simple example. When I wear jeans or shorts or drink I am not hurting anyone but when you see an artist who is a responsible citizen of your country just to flare up the sentiments purposely draws objectionable picture pertaining to one single religion, it is a freedom too much. You talk about Ajanta nude pictures. But then that was in the past. In the past we have done and witnessed so many things. Are we going to take all those further?

    One can be agnostic but there are others who are religious. Why did the whole world react to Prophet shown as gay? Wasn’t that freedom too? In my opinion again NO. Again many agnostics have no problem but there are others who are religious and for them Prophet is a messenger of god.

    I see that the ones who speak about keeping religion above everything are the ones who make flaring statements to create more religious disharmony. Well! I can choose to ignore them so I do.

    People can see right through pseudo-secularists and they will be shunned just like the goons RSS/SS and all their cronies.
    Immediately after 26/11 a friend told me let us see what Muslims say now and I asked why Muslims? Whole of India got hurt and few fanatics are not torch bearers of Islam religion. Sure terrorist use Islam and Jihad as an excuse to all attacks but that is their low mind thought. No sane person would buy that. Why should only Muslims speak up? All of us need to. Just like that I feel immensely hurt when every goon attack in the name of Hindu god is suddenly made a big issue by these pseudo-seculars who are mum about terrorist attacks, mum about Missionary conversions (a must to be part of their charity is to convert to Christianity a type of soft terrorism where you don’t hurt people but manipulate to convert). The only reason is TRP raise.

    They know this sort of bashing get maximum applauds. They are no different from these goons. Both aren’t even looking at actual picture here. One uses religion to beat up people and another uses religion to spit their own vendetta.

    The goons or pseudo-seculars care no hoots about harmony. That’s why instead of seeing the real issue being addressed you see a propaganda to flare up people belonging to different religion these days. Well! You may get some TRPs but you can’t fool them all for long. The reason why the political structure in India changed is also the result of this pseudo-secularism.

    In the end I would pay attention to people who I believe really have secular thoughts or who have balanced views not the ones who are ready to jump the gun to raise their TRPs by appeasing some people. People can see right through you so shun your hypocrisy pseudo-secularists! I IGNORE you.

    Would you like to build a strong nation bringing everyone together or you prefer to bring up old issues and keep creating the indifference in the pretext of being a secular? Which one do you prefer? How long will this slapping game continue?

    I slap once and you slap twice so the game continues.

  19. Solilo permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:39 pm

    Abhi, When I started typing I just kept on pouring my thoughts on many things I see these days esp. on blogosphere.

    In the end as I will say The price of freedom is high. Use freedom to unite people not to instigate. You dig up past..remember another can do the same. The blame game never ends.

    I have nothing mroe to add here. Thanks 🙂

  20. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:44 pm

    Wow Solilo…that was one powerful outpouring, the kind that will never find space in mainstream media…this is the power of blogging in full flow!

    Nimmy, you too have raised a lot of very important points and clearly have a very unbiased, balanced and mature head on your shoulders.

    This discussion has got its soul…

  21. Solilo permalink
    February 9, 2009 8:57 pm

    Another thing I wanted to add is when we talk about outdated practices in one religion like Manu Smriti which we discussed on IHM’s blog, it is to bring change. Not to get stuck in the muck. The bad elements from all religion MUST go and speaking up against it would only bring good to humanity.

    But a caricature of religious belief is about money and power. One earns popularity by doing that. It doesn’t help anyone. You draw blasphemous pictures hurting sentiments and fill your pockets. You must notice that most art forms these days be it movies or drama manipulates the religious sentiments of people. The gain is entirely there’s. No use to common man.

    In my opinion freedom which brings human closer is the right kind.

  22. Solilo permalink
    February 9, 2009 9:05 pm

    @Mr. Sharma: Trust me many people want to say the same thing but remain PC not to hurt anyone. I have tried that too but there are times when you need to speak up when you see hypocrisy. Bring on a balanced view and then we can talk is what I believe in.

    If one chooses to be biased then I have no argument for or against it so I choose my freedom to ignore it.

    There is a reason why I wrote

  23. Quirky Indian permalink
    February 9, 2009 9:23 pm

    @indyeah: A very passionate post, and I’m afraid that if I get right into it, the comment and reactions to what I say will be longer than you post.

    I agree, freedom should be accompanied by responsibility. However, the responsibility can never be ‘forced’. If I were to give my position in one line it is this: Your freedom of expression has more value than my right not to get offended.

    I might disagree with your statements, your books, your drawings, your views. But I cannot deny you the right to have that freedom. I might not allow it on my blog (because that’s my property), but I will never question the freedom you have to put it on yours, or the freedom of other people who show the stuff on their blogs/newspapers/channels.

    Freedom of speech and expression can never be compromised. Because once you compromise and give in to one pressure group – however loud or violent their methods, or however hurt they may be – you have opened the doors for everyone else to come in. And that is the end of freedom. Yesterday it was Rushdie, MF Hussain, Taslima Nasreen. Today you have objections to Water, Fire, Deshdrohi, the term “Slumdog”, and the the term “Barber”. Tomorrow it might be something equally stupid. Once you give in to one group, and compromise, what reason can you give other groups? That their offended feelings are not good enough? Where do you draw the line?

    Every freedom, every liberal principle derives from the freedom of expression. Take it away once, and you are already rolling downhill towards intolerance. India is a prime example.

    And for all those who are offended: please don’t watch the films, read/buy/gift the books, view the cartoons, see/buy/gift the paintings, or put up links to those on your blogs. But you can’t stop the person from his right to have that opinion, and the rights of others to publish or display it.

    For example, you may choose to not to publish this comment. You have every right to do so, as it is your blog. But I have every right to retain the views that I do, and express them freely on my blog, or on any other platform that might allow me to do so. Ditto for Rushdie, MF Hussain, Taslima, Danny Boyle and the girls who went to the pub in Mangalore.

    Because the moment the state upholds the right not to be offended over the right to free expression, it is just a matter of time before Magngalore happens. Please remember that.

    Quirky Indian

  24. Vinod_Sharma permalink
    February 9, 2009 9:27 pm

    I had written a post in 2007 about how increasingly intolerant we were becoming. Some of us may want to read it

  25. Quirky Indian permalink
    February 9, 2009 9:28 pm

    @Solilo: “It has become a fashion these days to bash up anything remotely connected with Hinduism and give an excuse of years of suppression. How can anyone be suppressed for years under pseudo-secular govt? There were no Saffron brigade then. Was there? Violent acts have no excuse. NEVER. If violence was an excuse then we would be seeing Kashmiri Pandits too terrorizing people. No one cares about them in India anymore. Not Saffron, Not Green, Not Red.”

    Bang on. There are idiots in every religion. All need to be taken to task. We cannot justify violence in the name of “suffering and exploitation”, because every such act can claim this kind of root cause. Who is anyone to judge that one cause, or one ‘historical ill’, was greater than the other? Any kind of violence cannot be justified.

    Quirky Indian

  26. manju permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:45 pm

    @ Quirky Indian-“Take it away once, and you are already rolling downhill towards intolerance. India is a prime example.”

    Maybe you have forgotten all the
    Middle-east countries, China, and Russia, etc.? 🙂

    I consider our record for tolerance to be quite good in comparison.

  27. nimis540 permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:57 pm

    IJndeyah,i hope you don’t feel bad about my comemnts..I am not criticizing,but just thinking loud,my thoughts are messed..I think we need to ahve a general code of freedom of expression so that it doesn’t depepnd in individual likes,which can go to any extreme..

  28. ruSh.Me permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:57 pm

    I don’t believe in God..and I also know that with the sole exception of the United States, the MOST RELIGIOUS countries of the world are the LEAST DEVELOPING ones..

    Violence is the easiest means of protest because anything else requires sacrifice.. It needs patience and guts to talk to people and make them understand your view point.. Had Sri Ram Sena taken each girl to her family, and told them that “Your ward exposes herself and drinks! Do something about it??” What would have the parents done?? Nothing, I know what to do with my daughter. Thank You!! Now get lost!!

    Was it about ill-effects of alcoholism?? NO.. It was about defaming Indian Culture, which BY THE WAY is no ones personal property!!

    I drink, I have sex with my bf, and I am not married.. Does that make me interfere in anyone’s freedom?? How does that make me a culprit..?? I know the cons of alcoholism.. I know I can get pregnant if I don’t use any protection..

    People care more about others spitting on an idol, but don’t even blink an eyelid if they, themselves spit and litter on the streets!!!

    A Brass idol, who isn’t aware of being spat upon, we, in-skin-and-blood get so hyper!!
    What Hypocrisy!

  29. Quirky Indian permalink
    February 9, 2009 10:58 pm

    @Manju: You’ve got it wrong. The countries you mention never had freedom. We did….we started with an ideal. And then we ran it to the ground. And where is this tolerance you speak of? Did we see any in the Mangalore attacks? In the attack on Taslima in Hyderabad? In the vandalism over James Laines’ book?

    Sure, our record is better than the Middle East or China. But is that what we have come to? That we have collective orgasms because we are better in comparison to the Middle East? Is that your benchmark? That in itself proves my thesis!

    @Indyeah: apologies for hijacking your comment-space like this.

    Quirky Indian

  30. vishesh permalink
    February 9, 2009 11:27 pm

    a billion comments ran through my mind…but let me put it in a nut shell

    truth is not the end but means to an end…

    man’s work is to break inability, to achieve it or not is destiny…

    The only justice is poetic justice.

    It is all a test of integrity…

    The thing is beyond it all these people kill their inner voice so as to live a responsibility less life..

    I can express whatever i want to…but if i offend someone,then I am not in a country in which i am accepted and i would promptly move away but if the world doesn’t agree with me i myself will blog up my work,to preserve it…

    It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong,but you need to be sure,it is a test of your integrity..

    And about the violent world you mentioned…

    Animals are born to survive,
    Man is born to live…

  31. manju permalink
    February 10, 2009 12:08 am

    @ Quirky Indian- Yes we had freedom, and we had it because we were a Hindu-majority secular nation. And freedom for all was more or less protected.

    Now we are an aggressively secular nation. And that means appeasing the minorities. The way the Antulays do. I cannot believe that the minorities want to be favoured in the way his type favours them.

    This leads to swings by extremist Hindus like the Rama Sene in the other direction, and so on.

    BTW, I agree that we should not pat ourselves on the back by comparing ourselves to lesser nations. You are right about that.

  32. Indian Home Maker permalink
    February 10, 2009 12:21 am

    Brilliantly written post Indyeah, now I know what they mean when they talk of writing from your heart 🙂

    But I am very vary of limitations on Freedom, because for one thing, who draws the line? Who decides how much is too much?

    And secondly how do you maintain these boundaries?

    We have seen who has the maximum Freedom of expression in recent past?

    No it isn’t MF Hussain or the man who posted a film on Gandhi on You Tube, or that Danish cartoonist or Taslima Nasreen or movies like Water and Fire or our Fashion Shows. The ones with unlimited FREEDOM are our various Senas.

    Taliban also has a lot of freedom to express their angst and hurt sentiments!

    In fact they are the only ones who seem to have all the FREEDOM TO EXPRESS THEIR hurt sentiments AT EVERY STROKE OF BRUSH OR PEN OR EVERY SWIRL OF FABRIC (or lack of it).. at every inch of skin displayed, or every sip of wine sipped or words spoken and maybe soon of blogs written …?

    I know you may not agree Indyeah, but I fear that if freedom is controlled, it will not be that of the powerful Senas and goondas and political parties, it will be OUR FREEDOM.

    So give me some cartoons, books, paintings, irreverence and films any day 🙂

    And I really liked Quirky Indians comments here, and kind of totally agree with them.

  33. Indyeah permalink
    February 10, 2009 12:42 am

    whoah!!so many comments
    I am really in it…:D
    back after a long productive day after sitting with the brains behind the 14th feb march…off again due to a prior commitment…:)
    see you all in a few hours..:)

  34. Indyeah permalink
    February 10, 2009 4:18 am

    Hello everyone!:)
    Can I answer some questions and put forward my Point of view in the next post?In a few days..

  35. Charakan permalink
    February 10, 2009 8:33 am

    I am back. I am happy that you found my comments in Nimmy’s blog thought provoking enough to post here about it.
    At the same time I am saddened that in this so called’liberal’ blogospere such confusion still exists about an artist’s freedom of expression.
    We were talking about artist’s freedom for expression right?

    why there should be a confusion?
    A modern State in the 21st century should ensure such freedom.
    Suppose if you are offended by the work of an artist,your sentiments were hurt. Then you can write in the Press,your blog,in the opinion book left open in the Gallerry, email the writer/painter etc etc.Or you can just ignore him/her,ask all your friends and family members to do so and even put some notices asking people to boycott him/her.Or you can hold a peaceful dharna [ofcourse only after getting prior permission from the police] in front of the artist’s house or Gallerry.All such avenues of protest are there,so why you worry?
    Now if a cinema in which Doctors are shown in a very poor light my sentiments may be hurt.Should I try to burn the cinema hall? If one of my colleague try to do the burning I will prevent him.I will tell my colleagues just ignore the film.
    If a defamatory report is published about me in a newspaper I wont go and thrash the editor because in a democratic society I know I dont have that right to do that.But I may sue him in court. At the same time I will always support and campaign for freedom of the Press.
    Imagine I am a Painter,a Muslim.I admire Hinduism very much because of its plurality,and the respect and freedom it gives to painters and sculptures.I visit Khajuraho temple and find many sensous sculptures of men and women in different poses of sexual activity including a few with animals.He realises how uninhibited is Hinduism in celebrating the beauty of human body and love. He is inspired to creat a painting about Hinduism with nudity in it.
    Those who are uninitiated about Hinduism [but who believe they are the sole saviours of Hinduism] are hurt.They have seen and heard about hinduism only from their pracharaks and from mega serials on TV.This pracharaks know only about post 18th century Maratha brahmin hinduism.They are taught from childhood at their shakhas that in 10 years Muslims will outnumber hindus and they will kill all hindus.So they were constantly under vigil with a stick to protect hinduism. But they cant see any Muslims attacking Hindus.Now how can we become the saviours of hindusim if there is no such attack? They see the painting,hurts their sentiments and attack the painting with venegence. Now they proclaim that Hinduism is saved, gets more votes and attain power, their ultimate aim.
    Why they did not protest peacefully? Their ideology has no such thing as a peaceful protest.
    Almost the same thing happens in all religions where fundamentalist forces hijack the religion and its followers to achieve their mean and selfish goals.They instil fear of riots on all peace loving citizens so that their aim is attained. So the victim the artist is turned the villain.The responsibility of riots is not on those who did it but on the artist.What a hypocrisy?

  36. Charakan permalink
    February 10, 2009 9:54 am

    The sad part is that freedom for expression in India is getting restricted day by day.Many films,books,Plays,Paintings,artists are offcially or unofficially banned.. It said that fascists always targets the artists first because they are the most vibrant part of the society and the most difficult ppl to get to fall in line.[as it happened in Germany].They know that the lay public will not bother about artists.But finally when they come for you ,you will be alone.

    This is my last comment in this whole issue.If I hurt the feelngs of any one of you I apologise.This is My Take on the subject.Every one can have their own opinion and I will fight for your Right to have your own opinion
    Good Night

  37. Indyeah permalink
    February 10, 2009 10:25 am

    have gotten realy tired and rather exasperated by the efforts ot explain again and again…
    no not here but on a friend’s blog

    Please read that …for the meantime..

    later I will get back with a post on the questions raised here specially by quirky Indian ,which struck me as the most sensible and
    I agree with many things..however none of us are coming up with a solution to India’s PRESENT secnario…
    a post later and that will be the last of it(hopefully)becasue I yearn to go back to my usual posts:)
    will come with an open mind and will hope that all of you do the same…
    till later then…

  38. Indyeah permalink
    February 10, 2009 6:56 pm

    Solilo your argumenents are pretty valid…but people would rather be politically correct in India…
    As you said

    also this I understand,”In my opinion freedom which brings human closer is the right kind.”
    But apparently when ppl are talking of one person’s creative freedom its like telling the rest of humanity to go take a hike..

    Bang on!”I think we need to ahve a general code of freedom of expression so that it doesn’t depepnd in individual likes,which can go to any extreme..”yeah that is required…a code so that no one has absolute freedom in the name of creativeness

  39. Rakesh permalink
    February 12, 2009 8:24 am

    Sorry Indeyah but your argument appears flawed. At a lot of places you contradict yourself and immediately try to remedy it by using the same argument again and again.

    I guess, Everyone repeat everyone, even creative people should have the freedom of expression. Those who are offended just should not read/see or tread on that ground.

    Once you bow down to the demands of a mob for restraining creativity on the argument of sensitivity, suddenly everyone starts becoming more sensitive and that leads to more curbing of freedom.

    I guess your argument even in favour of honouring freedom is not that great. Going by your argument, it would be fine if a prostitute conducts her business in the confines of her own home??? Those who are offended won’t visit her?

    So I guess, you shouldn’t try and justify something which you personally believe in and try to prove that it is the most right thing to do.

    Everyone has a personal choice to agree or disagree to something so exercise that choice but I’m sorry, I do not agree 🙂 No offence.

  40. Indyeah permalink
    February 12, 2009 8:42 am

    Rakesh:-:)none taken:)

    When you say a prostitute conducting business in her home,isnt that illegal in India?
    doesnt matter where she conducts it,its still illegal…(its another matter that governmenst look the other way when it comes to redlight areas..(why not make them legal instead of the farce?)

    ”Going by your argument, it would be fine if a prostitute conducts her business in the confines of her own home??? Those who are offended won’t visit her?”
    I really didnt understand the second part of your argument..ofcourse ppl would visit her…but thats hypocrisy for you…
    Going to a brothel which shouldnt be there acc to the law..thats India for you..
    also Would love to know where I contradict myself…:)

    and also a second post on this is here

    as well as a rather ridiculous debate is here..

    ”So I guess, you shouldn’t try and justify something which you personally believe in and try to prove that it is the most right thing to do.”

    But as you said its a democracy surely:)and I surely have full freedom to not only air my opinions but also convince others that I may be right:)
    only through words of course..and if you notice there already are quite a few who agree or rather I agree with them/…:)

    also I agree somewhat with what Quirky Indian says but not with what another person said..The power of words and see..QI makes sense..

  41. Indyeah permalink
    February 12, 2009 9:08 am

    and also besides knowing where I contradict myself would also love to know which argument I use again and again?
    also in today’s India how do we deal with hoodlums?:)

    and oh yes!do feel free to take your arguments to Nimmy’s (2nd link)blog..she has far more clarity than I have..
    and If you would really love to discuss this then why not have a psot on it on your blog?:)
    trust me this is not sarcasm but a genuine request which comes out of the tiredness of having debated this same point for three days/posts..and more..(which you will see for yourself after reading the three links)also Charakan the one who holds the same viewponit as you do apparently would love to hear from you…he is a friend but unfortunately a few of us got offended..

    Also please read the comments on all three links/posts…
    quite a lot of us hold those views that you seem to dislike…..No offence:)

  42. Indyeah permalink
    February 12, 2009 7:05 pm

    Nimmy the ‘ridiculous debate’ is used for the debate and not for your blog..:)

  43. ves21 permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:14 am

    Indy, I put a post on my blog about museums. I don’t approve when I am not allowed to see paintings. But… Guess it won’t correspond to your view or …? care to comment.

  44. Indyeah permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:29 am

    :D..nah!nothing of the sort..I read it and loved it too ..:)..just that came out of a rather long discussion on freedom a few days back and got pretty tired of it…so avoid it like hell these days..the discussion that is..:D..okay coming over to yours…:D..but dont let the discussion get too cerebral k?:D

    I am way too tired after the last one..:)

  45. Indyeah permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:59 am

    writing it here coz there’s a glitch with blogger and I cant seem to post comments on yours…neither is there any email given

    wait for some time and I could comment on yours…and if you can please remove the word verification that would be great coz that is what seems to be causing the problem..:)

  46. March 7, 2010 2:38 pm

    Congratulations on a very logically argued and well presented post on a subject that will continue to be a matter of debate and discussion in any healthy democracy. How much of it is good enough – both in the private as well as public space, is a matter that everyone has a opinion on – as is evident from the various comments here. My mind is too full to comment right now. Would read this post, and all the comments again, before I comment – many points need to be addressed in my brain first. Thank you Indyeah for raising this issue, and giving us all some food for thought, specifically for open minds, like you mention.
    me- Thank You Sir.
    Though I fear sometimes the fonts have just become very erratic.

    Would request you to read Nimmy’s first post too Sir and the comments on it.


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