Where does the freedom stop?

The recent events and the subsequent controversy which followed post the arrest of the (now) popular cartoonist – Mr. Aseem Trivedi, and the peaceful protests and demonstrations that have been repressed all over the country, is something which throws open many open questions, some of which we might not even want to answer. So its only natural that they are not even allowed to be asked.

The national integration of India has been a subject of intense debate, one which questions the ideas of forced nationalism and dominant belief in the Indian state. I better dare not express my own opinion, for I might be possibly charged with sedition as well; my association with working in the development sector might even earn me the tag of a maoist commander – who knows! But as far as recorded history goes, one which is accepted and approved by the intelligentsia of this country, India was never one nation – neither was Hinduism a proper religion. Both developed as dominant ideas briefly after the Muslim occupation of the sub-continent, and more so in the British occupation of the region. With these developed the interest to look at the history and culture of the ‘country’, which was still difficult to determine in terms of geographical boundaries. Nevertheless, the nationalist leaders made it a point to unite the country – with a call to a shared history and culture as the rallying points for national integration. The people then responded positively to this call – and we now have India, as well as Pakistan. Leave alone all that, that’s just history right!

With the increasing instances of arrests made on charges of sedition and conspiracy against the state (thousand of unreported cases usually don’t even find mention – to merely preserve the sanity of the statistics), it usually makes me wonder what the Indian state actually wants from its people. The commitment and loyalty of the people is unquestionable – you have already put people behind bars or killed them in ‘encounters’ if you felt they were planning to overthrow you. Some people accuse the government of being against the poor and deprived in the country – what is there is accuse? What do you want to gain out of accusations? The entire way the political and economic elite in the country collude with the giant corporations around the world – building nuclear reactors and forcing ‘free’ electricity down people’s throats is too visible to be mentioned as state oppression. As long as all this does not happen in our backyard – its always fine. I believe as long as this spirit is common in the Indian people, we will remain together as an unbreakable country. This has increasingly become the common spirit of the Indian ‘aam aadmi’. We indeed need to be proud of this – finally we figured out something as common culture!

People cry hoarse over freedom of expression being curtailed under oppressive regimes. When we studied the history of mighty emperors – it was not a period of modern democracy. Yet we were somewhere made to believe that the people were all happy and prosperous and when these mighty regimes declined, it was also because of social and economic problems. Look up any basic textbook of ancient or medieval Indian history, these are the major lessons from history. Do we have analyses of the freedom of expressions then? I am not sure. It is because constitutional law had still not come in place. And when these laws finally came – all people breathed hope at last. Modernity had finally arrived in India, and we wouldn’t go back to all the archaic laws we had – as the British told us.

We better make use of the sacred document called the constitution of India that the founding fathers gave to us – to guide us in our lives and not keep locked somewhere. The state seems to be the miser who is dying of hunger but still keeps all the wealth locked up inside a safe while he could have bought food and still save himself on time. Use that big document – don’t auction its guiding principles to the highest bidder to fill your own pockets. If you have chosen to completely ignore it, then better throw it away so that common people are not left with any hope of justice in any way; so they can easily die in silence. But as long as this document is there, and the rule of law prevails, and democracy prevails – this cannot happen, and should not happen. If you cannot write or draw or act or read anything which makes you able to criticize the state, and point fingers at the ones who do wrong to our country – then it is nothing but anarchy. Don’t ask me, I am a big fan of anarchy. But before I recommend that, I will first need to ask all the great people in the country for that. They need to approve and orchestrate even that!