[Reader-list] Freedom of Expression my foot!

S.Fatima sadiafwahidi at yahoo.co.in
Fri Aug 31 23:18:23 IST 2007

Dear Rahul
Of course I am not in favour of somebody's freedom of
expression which puts the national security at risk. I
would certainly not like an action which helps in
sinking the boat which I am also riding. But the point
is, who should decide what is a security risk? A
statement which is a painful truth for someone could
be a security risk for others. 

To extend your analogy a little, if the oarsman of the
boat decides that a few travelers are his enemy and
tries to push them into the water, there will be a
clash where the victims may try to throw the oarsman
himself into water. Of course the other travelers who
are not aware of the origin of the clash will declare
the victimized group as their enemies and so on. Thus
it becomes a conflict. I know it’s a childish analogy
but the reality is much more complex. Each one of us
is living with our own versions of history, and that
decides our definition of nationhood and patriotism. 
No Indian (or human) today will say that he/she is not
victimized by somebody/something or the other.
Everyone's (hi)story is important. It’s just that the
state has the power to legitimately suppress other's
version of the history if they want to. And that's
where my problem lies with the nationhood and the

I fail to understand what you mean by the "essential
nature of the state" and why is it over and above
everything? What if it hurts me instead of
safeguarding me? What if this “nature of state”
discriminates against a certain group of its citizens
because of sheer sectarian prejudice or simply
corruption? Ultimately the “nature of state” in its
practical form is nothing but a bunch of civil
servants, MPs, judges, soldiers, cops - do you think
all of them are angels from heaven? (I am not denying
thier sacrifices in running the country and saving us
from all the dangers, and so on). But do they follow
the constitution as perfectly as required? And forget
about national security and defense – have they
provided clean water, sanitization, basic health,
education, roads, housing, employment, and food to
everyone? Is the “nature of state” above all these
essential duties? Why shouldn’t someone become
Naxalite given the current nature of state?

It doesn't matter how clean and perfect our
constitution is, or what our fathers of the Nation
dreamt about. What matters is how is the state
treating its people? (Of course its reverse is also
important). But I or anyone else who faces injustice
and partiality will have a shaky belief in the state
and nationhood. In any case, most of our middle and
lower-middle class today is so helpless, frustrated,
and tired that they don’t give a damn to nationalism.
The only people who are happily patriotic are some
nicely employed or filthy rich or the NRIs. Don’t you


--- Rahul Asthana <rahul_capri at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Dear Sadia,
> Sorry for the belated reply.I guess I could not
> explain myself clearly.Kshmendra has articulated it
> better than me.Anyways,I will try once more.
> To take a rough analogy;all of us are traveling in a
> boat.It does not matter really how we evolved into
> it.The boat should prohibit any activity which may
> sink it,isnt that logical? 
> Lets take the matter of Kashmir out of this for a
> sec.Right now,lets just focus on this:Whether it is
> justified by a nation to ban any kind of freedom of
> expression on any pretext.You obviously think there
> should be no checks on the freedom of expression.I
> would say,as I did in my earlier email,that anything
> which is contradictory to the essential nature of
> the
> state,should be banned.I gave the example of Iran.I
> will give one other example.Lets suppose there is a
> monarchy in which there is hereditary
> succession.Suppose someone starts preaching about
> democracy in a monarchy.So yeah they will be jailed
> etc.Its only after a revolution,civil war etc that
> one
> can change the essential nature of a nation state. 
> Lets come to India now.Its a secular democracy.Now
> the
> founding fathers of the nation wanted it to be
> so.Lets
> consider two imaginary scenarios and you tell me
> where
> freedom of expression will lead to in that
> scenario..
> 1. BJP-RSS-VHP  talk about making India a hindu
> state
> and start giving inflammatory speeches about
> muslims.
> 2. Chief of army staff writes a book on the corrupt
> politicians and argues how dictatorship is good for
> India.He starts holding meetings and tries to build
> a
> consensus that civilians are not fit to rule the
> country and military should take over.He even starts
> ad campaigns on TV.
> I could give several such examples.The steps to my
> reasoning is..
> 1.Anything which is contradictory to the essential
> nature of state;the state will not provide a
> constitutional procedure to let that happen.
> 2.The only way to bring about that kind of change is
> civil war\blood shed.
> 3.If freedom of expression is provided in such a
> scenario,it could lead to violence and in the
> extreme
> case the change of the essential nature of the
> state.
> If we still do not agree that the nation is
> justified
> in curbing the freedom of expression in certain
> cases,please let me know what you think.
> You have talked about nation and constitution not
> being divine ordained,of course its not;but I did
> not
> get your point.What are you trying to say?Are you
> pointing at the Caliphate and Shariat in place of
> nation and constitution?If you are then again I
> would
> say;the secular democratic nation of India should
> suppress your freedom of expression.A secular
> democracy is what I was born into and this is how I
> want it to stay.Please note that this is not a moral
> judgment on your stand,its just that I have chosen
> my
> side.
> You have also talked about"the current version of
> nationalism being full of gas" I totally agree with
> you.Nationalism to me is first and foremost an idea
> that gives us certain freedoms,protections and
> basically enables all of us to peacefully
> coexist.Beyond that,I have no use for it.I am not an
> "India Shining" or "mera bharat mahaan" kind of
> patriot.Its not a judgement on those who are, but I
> just want you to understand where I am coming from.
> So I would support full freedom of expression on
> anything that can be achieved without violating the
> essential nature of the state.Even the constiution
> is
> open for amendment.But the essential nature of the
> state is not.
> If there is anything else I have missed,please let
> me
> know.
> There is the specfic matter about "self
> determination
> in kashmir".I will post on that later;time
> permitting.
> regards
> Rahul
> --- "S.Fatima" <sadiafwahidi at yahoo.co.in> wrote:
> > Dear Rahul
> > I don't agree with you on this. Where has this
> > concept
> > of Nation, Nationalism, Rashtra come from? Was it
> > there in our country 100 years ago, or 300 years,
> or
> > 2000 years ago? Has it been mentioned in any
> > Shastras?
> > I don't think so. It has been implanted into us by
> > the
> > colonial rule. While we continue to reject so many
> > things as "foreign" we have happily accepted this
> > concept as it suits our ends. Why?

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