February 28, 2016

On A Response to my previous Post by Prabhu Narasimhan

Arka – my response to your recent blog. Publish this as my rejoinder to yours if you will.

“What if a group of people started shouting misogynist slogans in a college campus citing evolutionary evidence. Or what about a group of students abusing a particular Abrahamic religion on their beliefs on rational grounds. What about taking this one step further and a group of students actively condoning rapes in Delhi citing idiotic things like women wearing inappropriate clothes and speaking about due process of law being violated in the judgment on Nirbhaya case. Would this all constitute freedom of expression?

As Arka says we as a country have been known as a land respecting a dissenter. So should we allow these above hypothetical protestors their right to protest however distasteful it might be. Or does the Government of the day follow the constitutional process.

In this whole debate, what has been conveniently forgotten is the facts and the law. Whilst the facts may be in dispute in many cases (and here) the law is clear – the Indian constitution allows for freedom of expression. But that freedom is not unfettered. There are a number of limitations – public order is one, sovereignity and integrity of the nation is another. In other words, utterances which can disrupt public order or statements challenging the sovereignity and integrity of the nation is not permitted under the freedom of expression right in the constitution. The sedition law is an additional limb in the IPC – whether utterances which are not constitutionally protected (I.e. seditious statements) should be criminal is another question. There is a rich body of law which sets out when it can be criminal.Supreme Court has ruled that the sedition law is constitutional. Now of course you can differ with the judgment but the Government has law on its side here.

Now coming to the JNU saga which has been hijacked by the left and losers (I.e. Congress Party which itself has a rich tradition of preserving freedom of expression – remember emergency), what is beyond doubt is that pro Afzal Guru slogans were shouted at and slogans challenging the sovereignity and integrity of India were chanted – in fact live on the television studios I have seen students and supporters of the arrested group say as much to that effect. That to me is not freedom of expression. Those are statements challenging our constitution, contempt of court and now I use the term – anti national.

Now what does “anti-national” mean – we the people of India resolved to ourselves and gave to ourselves our constitution. That created in us a nation following a set belief set out in our constitution. Now our constitution does not say we are the best country in the world or that we are superior to others – that is pseudo nationalism and jingoism. Let us not confuse jingoism with nationalism. Nationalism essentially means to protect our values. In an increasingly hostile world, we have to strive to protect our freedoms. I am all for wide interpretation of freedom of expression.

By all means debate intellectually where Afzal Guru case was handled correctly by the court and due process of law followed but do not call the hanging as state sponsored murder. That is challenging the constitutional role of the supreme court. By all means intellectually question the idea of India but to ask for it to splintered strikes at the heart of our constitution and the nation we created ourselves.

Finally, these students whose virtues Arka sings paens of are I do not think very humbly Gandhi shouting slogans against the British – they are shouting slogans against themselves and their own constitution. Fine by me as long as it does not cross certain lines. Public order (aka in my example earlier shouting distasteful slogans against religions etc. In my first paragraph) is not acceptable. Neither are statements challenging the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. To do so is inciting public disorder and challenging the very constitution that gives them the right to express.

The capitalism vs. Communism debate can happen no doubt and bankruptcy of capitalism is exceed by the bankruptcy literally and actually of communism. But that is an intellectual debate.

Psuedo intellectual, pseudo secular are as bad as pseudo nationalist.

Finally, if Kanhaiya and co are right to shout any slogan, surely other extremist on the other side can shout for Kanhaiya to be thrashed and killed. If violence happens in Kashmir because of students flaring up temperature there does not have any causal link surely lawyers beating up Kanhaiya also can claim no causal link against those who shouted for that to happen. Freedom of expression does not extend to inciting illegal acts or condoning them. Any sloganeering against the integrity of the nation needs to be handled sternly where it takes place in Government funded institutions. Modi and his Government have got this one right.

Sent from my iPhone

Prabhu Narasimhan