Saturday, March 18, 2006

More Freedom of Speech and Expression

Time and again, I've ranted and ranted on my blog about why individual freedom is the most important aspect of a true democracy. For those who came in late, what I mean is that creating an environment where the freedom of an individual to rise to their potential - irrespective of gender, caste, race, financial status or religion, and one where polite dissent is encouraged, is the most fundamental aspect of a democracy.

On both these aspects, India fails quite miserably at times. For an instance of what I mean, see this story:

A young Muslim girl from one of Kerala's districts is learning classical dance. And is pretty good at it too. Her parents support it as well. But meanwhile, we have the local demagogues who have ostracized her family because of this.

So, what we have is a classic example of the conflict between the right of an individual to lead their lives and the power wielded by society. Fortunately, this time, the right of the individual seems to have the upper hand, but it is anyone's guess as to how long that'll last. And where are the 'guardians of public interest' now? Why are they silent? Why is Brinda Karat, who frets and fumes on women's rights, silent when faced with a real-life issue?

Before you think I am a different kind of (anti-Muslim) demagogue, let me clarify that I feel the same way when young friends are beaten up in UP parks, or when couples taking a walk in a park are harassed by the police, or when girls are killed to 'defend family honour'. My point is simply this - if the right of the individual is subjugated to the brute force of society, that society is not democratic.

Which, unfortunately, still holds for our dear own India.

No comments: