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Freedom continued….

February 10, 2009

Freedom…..yes,yet another post on freedom…:) (and hopefully the last one for some time)
Continuing from what was discussed in the last post as well as in its comments section,I would now like to put forward what I believe in.
First let me get the basic points clear because I am sure, all of us as rational,reasonable citizens of a democratic nation agree on a few common points.
1. Freedom of speech and expression is the right of every individual in India.
2.Each individual’s freedom is limited only to that point where he/she does not infringe or overstep upon another individual’s freedom.

Now the statement given below is also a part of our constitution.
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.

This is where a lot of us have problems.We are not okay with the goverment acting like a big brother and breathing down our necks.And considering how pathetic and self serving the governments in India have been uptil now,this fear is well justified.

If you have time on your hands and would like to read more go HERE
No,this is not an attempt to gain more attention This is simply a tiredness and a refusal on my part to repeat myself over and over again.

Okay, so according to liberal individuals, the Constitution gives us the right to complete freedom of expression and speech,and so we all should have it equally.There can be no curbing someone’s freedom in the name of any issue.
Fine,I agree as I pointed out in the Barkha Dutt case here.
Infact I remember quoting,George Washington
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

Very strong words right?But true nevertheless.The fact is that once we are told to shut up we will be led to slaughter and nothing less.

But now,let me ask you when you cite the Constitution regarding ‘Freedom of speech ‘, why should I not cite this again?
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.
Why?
Why should this aspect of the Constitution remain mute while the one that you decide is okay should be applied?

Please notice the emphasis on reasonable restrictions…
Now the question arises as to who will impose these reasonable restrictions?
Good question.That is what we have to debate and ask each other and ourselves.
WE have to agree on having these reasonable restriction as opposed to the mayhem that is , absolute freedom with no restrictions and hence no responsibility at all.
Granted that Governments have not been very good while practicing out this above statement.

But tell me,when you cite an Artist’s ABSOLUTE freedom of speech and expression ,I assume you are talking of a Perfect State.
Because only in a perfect state can people have ABSOLUTE FREEDOM of expression.

The other argument given to me was that all human beings are artists at the core.That you,or me could at any point start painting/drawing something and we would have complete freedom to do so.

Extending this logic further,I then take it to mean that if all human beings are or could be artists , AND if all artists are absolutely free,then the conclusion would be that therefore all human beings in this world or atleast in India have absolute freedom.

If all human beings have absolute freedom ,then how will you stop the Saffron and pseudo secular brigades?
I now very deliberately say pseudo secular because I do not care who coined the term .I simply call it as I see it.
And to my mind the pseudo secular brigade which stands on the sidelines like an impotent being and watches the saffron brigade create havoc is as much a murderer as the saffron brigade.
The saffron brigades misuse that same right of freedom that you and I ask for.
They run riot on the streets,terrorizing everyone.
So the government should do something right?
Then why dont they?
How is terrorization of women in a city ruled by a saffron party different from terrorization of migrant workforce in a city ruled by a ‘secular’ party?
Both are impotent is it?
And consider the fact that the saffron brigades have been in power for very little time in Independent India’s history,and we still are at the crossroads that we see today.
SO What does that say about the other so called secular parties? The pseudo secular ones?

A most wise friend is absolutely right when he says,

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.

Yes,I completely agree with this statement.
”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?”
Again I am in complete agreement here.
But this absolute freedom is possible in a state where the government does something.Where when a group threatens for something as stupid and inane as the name ‘Billu Barber”,the government takes the goons to task and not merely sits and let things play out as if they are happening in someone else’e backyard.
The saffron goons are always out on the streets,beating all and sundry.threatening bookstore owners for keeping books by Pakistani writers,artists,telling people to change names of shops,telling women to be not too FREE,beating up women,thrashing ‘outsiders’,killing people because they come from another state.

Now the saffron brigade is a goonda and nothing less.ANd it is living up to its name .Behaving like a goonda.

What about the’Secular’parties whom we look up to?
They are supposed to protect us,ensure that we feel safe and THUS guarantee our freedom of expression.
Why are they such incompetent fools?
I know this discussion has gone from being about freedom of expression to one that is about feeling secure and maintaining law and order.

But without the latter how can we have the former?

If I do not feel secure,how can I be completely free and creative?
And If I am not secure and I know that other citizens too are not secure and that one work of mine SPECIALLY WHEN IT IS RELATED TO SOMEONE’s RELIGION can make the country go up in flames,then is it not my RESPONSIBILITY TO ensure that my works are created keeping in mind the country’s,MY country’s PRESENT scenario in mind.?

”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.

TRue..absolutely true…
But should I take that to mean that certain creative and artistic individuals therefore should have no limits on their freedom?That they can cite terms like creative license and artistic expression and get away with anything?

I am just waiting for a logical ,coherent argument with an open mind.One which will make me understand the reality in India today .
One which does not speak simply of lofty Utopian ideals of liberalism,while living all the while in a Dystopian country like no other.


Edited to add (in order to avoid further confusion)
Should there be a limit to freedom in India?

IF not,then nothing can be termed offensive or obscene right?
Then why do we have a censor board?(pathetic institution it is, I know,but still one question begets another)
So I repeat why do we have the censor board?


If yes,(that is ,that we should have limits on freedom) then what are the restrictions on freedom that one can be okay with?

Should or shouldn’t there be a system of guidelines in place?
How much freedom is too much freedom?
Who is defined as an artist in this country?(please include all the professions that you think qualify)
Can an ordinary Indian come under the label of an ‘artist’?

When everyone is accountable for their actions,why are artists not to be held accountable?
Their ‘actions ‘are their creative works.So,can they be held accountable for those?

If not ,then are we saying that artists are not to be held accountable for anything?

Should not the artist be sensitive enough to create keeping the sensitivities of a country (one that he/she is living in)in mind?

PLease go here and let me know what you think of this art .
It is fine according to me.I dont understand the logic but well to each his/her own.
It has even been awarded.
But if I were to speak hypothetically,imagine the same art being kept here in India,do you think Indians ,the average Indians are ready for this?
Better yet imagine an artist creating this art in India,a prominent artist.Will it work?
Will everyone be able to see what the prize givers were able to?

You and I might be.But what about them?The Average Indians?
(and please do not revert to the Khajuraho and Kamasutra argument about how our past has been so brilliant)
Yeah it was,but people look at those as temples than anything else.
The society today which goes ballistic when Khushboo mentions virgins and sex in the same breath,is this society ready for it?

Will you stand and protect us from the goons when they go on a rampage?
And if the government should be doing that,then why isnt it?

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Indian Home Maker permalink
    February 11, 2009 12:33 am

    Have to go out just now, I am going to come back and read it. This is a subject very close to my heart Indyeah 🙂

  2. vishesh permalink
    February 11, 2009 12:39 am

    k..first of all I don’t consider them as humans…ya just because they look like us,they aren’t humans..

    Second of all,we all are artist,the difference between people who art within and who draw art is this- beat him/her,kick him/her kill him/her the art and the belief in their ideals and thoughts will not go…

    Art is a representation of our cognition…

    “I am just waiting for a logical ,coherent argument with an open mind.One which will make me understand the reality in India today .
    One which does not speak simply of lofty Utopian ideals of liberalism,while living all the while in a Dystopian country like no other.”

    well when you talk of art and freedom,it is a question of principle….what is happening today is simple,few people are talking us all for a ride…we have the option to kick them out and take the wheel or get down and walk…as it happens in Pirates of the Caribbean,the captain can be told to walk the plank,if he doesn’t have the faith…all we artists are as crazy as Jack..so there captain..

    And it is possible for anyone to get offended by anyone…try stepping into a school anywhere and you will find insults thrown around..and most often than not there will be one particular person who is targeted..thats where it all starts…So to change it all change the way you teach and the values will hold…

  3. Indyeah permalink
    February 11, 2009 12:47 am

    IHM:-I know…:)sure…till later then..:)

    Vishesh:-”k..first of all I don’t consider them as humans…ya just because they look like us,they aren’t humans..”are you talking about the goons?yes,I agree…but they live in our midst…so we have to come up with a way to deal with them…
    If the govt in this country acted as it should then there would be no goons on the streets going around harassing people..

    ”what is happening today is simple,few people are talking us all for a ride…we have the option to kick them out and take the wheel or get down and walk..”

    Exactly my thoughts Vishesh:)but how?how do we do this?
    Why is Muthalik still free?
    IF the state govt is a crappy one,shouldnt the centre intervene?and if both arepathetic then what do WE the normal citizens do?

    I agree on all the points that ppl raised…freedom can be absolute but first we have to make our society perfect…
    What are the guidelines for freedom or what should they be in today’s India?Keeping all the simmering tensions and lack of law and order in mind..

  4. nimis540 permalink
    February 11, 2009 1:07 am

    Agreed to every bits..My reponse to this post is my last post..

    Sorry honey,i want freedom from thoughts on freedom.

    My conclusion is that absolute freedom can happen only when people have grown up and learned to beahve well..Till then,we need to keep check of the mass..No questions asked..lol…

  5. Indyeah permalink
    February 11, 2009 1:11 am

    yes Nimmy!:)me too and I have promised myself that this is the last one..:)
    loved the way you summed up things on yours..:)
    i want freedom from this freedom debate too..will go and take a painkiller now I think:D

    ((Hugs)):)

  6. Unpretentious Diva permalink
    February 11, 2009 1:50 am

    Ok let me start pouring up some questions.
    2.Each individual’s freedom is limited only to that point where he/she does not infringe or overstep upon another individual’s freedom.

    You have not provided any definition of Individual freedom yet, how will you define Individual freedom?

    There is ONLY one right possible for any human who takes birth on earth, and that right is “FREEDOM to LIVE”.
    All other so-called rights are just consequences of that.
    Since every person has freedom to live, it means if anyone Physically attack on him, it is against his freedom, and to safeguard his freedom, he has right to oppose the attacker, he has right to self-defense.
    Now to keep living, that person need the freedom to act, that is freedom to work, to create, to change the environment conducive and productive for him.
    That is, he has right to work hard and earn, every man has this right, but it is a consequential right, he need to prove that he has skills to work. he cannot start begging for work, he has to earn it.
    Now since he work, he makes a living, he has a right to save the wealth for his usage at bad times, that is, he has right to save wealth, property. property rights.

    Now since he has property rights (In India nobody has property rights) he can define individual liberty, Individual liberty is a person’s right to live, hence to act, to safeguard against any physical attack, to work and make a living , to save wealth and to have property completely for his own use in whatever way he feel good, without restriction, provided he has earned that property honestly.

    Now the consequential rights, like freedom to speech/expression.
    Everyone in India has right to express, but it should not breach Individual liberty of others.
    That is, you have proper freedom of speech, yet you can not come to my house and start abusing me, if you do so, I may tell you get out of my house (sorry for using the word “you” in hypothetical example)
    You have proper freedom of speech but you cannot roam nude on the streets. You cannot drink alcohol in a garden that is not yours.

    But yes, you can enjoy a striptease party at your own home, or some friend’s invitation home, or at a dance bar where the owner of the bar lets you enjoy striptease for an exchange of rent, he charges and let you and other dance bar users enjoy.
    The person performing striptease has freedom to act, since he/she want to perform striptease, he is free to do so.

    That is, whatever freedom of expression you have is dependent on your property rights, you can enjoy your freedom of expression if, it is on your property or the property which has been provided for you by the owner of that property for usage at some rent.

    About freedom of speech, you can write anything against me or anyone else at your blog, it is your property, can you write that same thing on my blog? No.
    That is, you have freedom of speech at your property.
    Lets say you abuse me on your blog and propagandize against me (sorry for using “you” again I know it sounds bad)
    You can do so, it is your freedom of speech. I cannot restrict you by any means.
    But i can oppose the wrong false charges against me by writing a clarification or opposition to your write up in my own blog.

    That is, if Rushdie wrote something against Islam in his books, he has right to do so because its his property, if someone does not agree with his remarks, they can write another book criticizing Rushdie, they cannot attack on rushdie though, nor government has right to ban Books of rushdie , if government do so, GOVERNMENT IS DEVIL.

    Same way, if Deepa Mehta makes movie Fire, or Water, people can criticize her making another movies or writing against her, they cannot ban her movies though nor can they atttack on her or the cinema halls showcasing her movies. if they do so and government censors her movies or bans them, then GOVERNMENT is DEVIL.
    Government is devil because government did not protected Deepa Mehtas right to property, right to act right to live free.

    But India is rouge and failed state, there is no property right in India hence no freedom.

    If M.F Hussein makes some nude pictures of some goddess, hindu fundamentalist may criticize him , nothing wrong in criticizing him in their own books, newspapers, or drwings, make extremely offensive cartoons against MF Hussein its their right.

    But if they attack MF Hussein and government do not save him or bans his paintings, then GOVERNMENT is DEVIL.

    Barkha Dutta has right to express whatever was happening in Taj Hotel without restriction. it was failure of Mumbai Police and ATS that they did not closed the Satelite TV and cable dish connections to Taj Hotel before starting operation it was ATS foolishness but people blamed Barkha Dutta.

    But nothing is wrong in blaming Barkha Dutta, what C Kuntey wrote in his blog against her was HIS RIGHT to criticize anybody in his property.

    Barkha dutta and NDTV were wrong in harrasing C Kuntey and terrorizing him of court actions and libel charges. It was simple wrong action by Barkha dutta and NDTV and should be criticized.

  7. Indyeah permalink
    February 11, 2009 3:30 am

    Unpretentious Diva:-It is okay to use the word ‘you’..:)
    you have given long examples…(all discussed previously)
    yet you have not defined as to how in this country of ours India,(which is not perfect not even anywhere near to being perfect),we should behave and live…what SHOULD BE THE GUIDELINES OF FREEDOM IN THE INDIA OF TODAY?

    LOL@Individual freedom(NO,I am not being sarcastic at all,it was a moment of genuine mirth)becasue you and I both are asking the very same questions and searching for the same answer.are we not?
    Let me just say simply that I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHAT THE DEFINITION OF INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM IN INDIA IS.
    That is the crux of the matter.
    Becasue apparently some ‘artistic’ people have more of it than others..
    the government I have already clarified what and how I feel about them..

    You wrote,
    ”But India is rouge and failed state, there is no property right in India hence no freedom.”
    In a way I agree yet I would not say we are a rogue state or a failed one….those are strong words…we are simply a state that in the majority of the instances is not bale to maintain law and order when it is most needed.and yet so in such a state our freedom automatically becomes limited….

    how?
    Due to fear for life due to blackmail,due to goondagardi

    Hussain cant seem to return to Inida….
    Taslima on the run from her own country and even we couldnt pprovide her freedom…she now lives in a land far away..fears for her life and has had to delete passages from her new book…

    is this freedom of expression?
    this ?When I do draw and write what I want,and then may have to fear for my life and run away from the country becasue the govt cant even do something as basic as provide me with security?

    IN this country

  8. Indyeah permalink
    February 11, 2009 3:33 am

    in this INDIA which seems helpless in the face of goondaism please define the rights of freedom of expression of an individual …
    the term freedom of expression of an individual is itself quite vague in the Constitution of India,hence the debate and confusion

  9. manju permalink
    February 11, 2009 3:35 am

    Very thoughtful summing up of the subject, Indyeah.

    I would also like a break from this subject for the moment so I am not commenting at length.

    I would just like to put forward the thought that there is perhaps no perfect solution.

    Societies evolve, mentalities change, moral norms change. We just have to try to do the best we can to assure justice for all, as a society or a nation, in whatever the present context is.

  10. Chirag permalink
    February 11, 2009 4:57 am

    @Freedom of speech
    I am all too much of this.

    @Indyeah : To me the real issue is as you said is the the pseudo umbrella of rights and freedom we are living under. We are free as long as we don’t upset any neta or religious bozos. We are free as long we are subjected to the virtual silent rules implied on to us.

    but as you said, “Koi, desh perfect nahi hota…”

    Happy that we are doing our bit, and as much as in our powers.

  11. Solilo permalink
    February 11, 2009 5:28 am

    Abhi, I concur with everything you mentioned at Nimmy’s and here. My views as posted at both places also remains the same.

    I wanted a much more unbiased detailed explanation on why it is easier for some to jump and blame ‘Saffron’ when they oppose MF Hussain but my questions about Conversion and Mother Mary wasn’t answered.

    My simple question was would Bishops have appreciated MF Hussain too had he drawn Mary? And would they be called goons too? Also why were those several countries not called fundamentalists when they burned their public property opposing Danish cartoonist? Why is ‘Saffron’ easy target?

    This was never answered and that’s why I left the discussion at Nimmy’s half way with the other debater. There was no clarity in the discussion.

    Other than that as you know you and I and many others have same opinion on freedom. Let me see if I can add more here.

  12. Usha Pisharody permalink
    February 11, 2009 5:54 am

    Underscore what Nimmy says… we have all the words, ideals, and everything in place. Now we need to grow up!

    But yes, to repeat what I had already said earlier, freedom comes with responsibilities, the way I see it!

    Awesome posts, Indygurl… esp the research and the passion, the way they have come together 🙂

  13. Indyeah permalink
    February 11, 2009 11:16 pm

    Manju:-Thanks:)
    lol!I needed a break too:)
    ”Societies evolve, mentalities change, moral norms change. We just have to try to do the best we can to assure justice for all, as a society or a nation, in whatever the present context is.”
    Beautifully said:)
    I just get mad at the hypocrisy and two facedness of it all..different standards for everyone?Why?

    Chirag:-YeahI really get mad too…All we can do is do our bit in any way possinble…and by being peaceful:)yeah yeh desh perfect hoga …..dheere dheere:)

    Solilo:-yeah I agree with you..:)we both agree 🙂
    ”This was never answered and that’s why I left the discussion at Nimmy’s half way with the other debater. There was no clarity in the discussion.”
    yeah thats why I left too:)

    but we should never be quiet and take this kind of BS from ppl….we should keep our opinions on the table as respectfully as possible…and if the other side doesnt get it…well…its a free country..:)hugs:)

    Usha:-:)exactly Nimmy has put it really well..and you toofreedom with responsibilities….:).
    :)Thank you..:)for sharing and writing as much as you so..:)((hugs))

  14. freespirit permalink
    February 15, 2009 12:00 pm

    I cannot comment on the freedom to tell the truth, for then who is to ensure that the truth is indeed being told. However, as far as works of art go, creation itself is not offensive. However displaying that same work of art to the public may be offensive. Again there will be questions, but I do not think that a work of art created without ill-intention will offend the sentiments of the majority. Anything may be deemed offensive, however does it hurt because somewhere it’s true, or is it because one is simply insulted that anyone would degrade and desecrate that which is sacred to her/him? Creative licence means responsibility and the answer to the limits of freedom lie in the above question, somewhere…

  15. Indyeah permalink
    February 15, 2009 6:22 pm

    freespirit:-*applause*and bravo for an answer thats well balanced and one which does not take any sides,but simply seeks to try and see what is the solution…why are the problems cropping up?

    yeah my views on telling the truth are the same…
    Freespirit….keep thinking,keep writing,your comments are thoughtful and show that you have pondered on the subject for a while..:)

  16. Indyeah permalink
    February 15, 2009 6:25 pm

    you are right creation itself is not offensive…and neither are works which are made without any ill intention…
    ”because one is simply insulted that anyone would degrade and desecrate that which is sacred to her/him?”

    yes,this is the main issue…at the heart of it all..

    ” Creative licence means responsibility and the answer to the limits of freedom lie in the above question, somewhere…”
    yes,yes, and yes….

  17. September 25, 2010 7:07 pm

    OMG, tht’s a deluge of posts! 😀 i will take some time to read and comment.. in the meanwhile, how have you been?? hugs

    me- I was updating the categories on all the posts and all of a sudden they are popping up on readers everywhere(I knew it but forgot)been okay. (((hugs)))back:)

  18. September 26, 2010 11:24 am

    “Reasonable”, who will draw the line.As the situation stands, it is either the babu or the neta will interpret the meaning.
    Each one of must be given full rights of expression but, with responsibilities attached to it.
    me- Agree completely with your words.

  19. October 6, 2010 12:43 pm

    you wrote so much suddenly? anyways you have raised some very valid questions here to which i dont think i have an answer to right now…the society gets the government it deserves and its people like us who make it to the government too..so its a kind of self imposed restriction at times, if you see 🙂 like it or not
    me- arre na! I updated categories on many posts and then they showed on all readers as new. 😦
    Glitch with WP. This here is pretty old. reg the post and your point I like what you are saying:)

  20. October 18, 2010 7:45 pm

    I’m back here after loongg! But I love your spirit. I love how you fight for India in your own little way, you’re a revolutionary.
    And yes, food for thought…
    Very disputed subject. I am actually trying to think of something, but I’m so confused as to what I believe in…
    me- welcome after long.:) Thank you. as long as its food for thought, the work’s done:)

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