Thursday, January 29, 2009

Freedom of Speech

Today I came across a very interesting article, thanks to @shahpriya. And it worries me a lot, both as a Pro Blogger and a citizen of India because tomorrow the same might happen to me! Who knows, it might happen to you, or anyone else for that matter! And the irony is that it was on 26th January, the Republic Day, on which the voice of an ordinary citizen of India was suppressed. The article raises a question about our right to free speech in this country. And it also raises the age old question, have we really achieved independence?

I have got a few suggestions for both Ms Dutt and NDTV:

1. Are you aware of our Fundamental Rights as an Indian citizen? Do you realize that we live in India, where, according to the Indian Constitution, the Right to Free Speech is one of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed to every citizen of India? If you are not aware of these then you do NOT have a right to be in India.

2. Do you even know what a blog is? Do you think it is just a series of lifeless web pages that you try to spice up by hiring a designer to attract advertisers? Please stop living under the rock. A blog is a place for the Netizens around the world to voice their concerns. You have blogs of your own, it makes me wonder what do you use it for!

3. Do you think it is very easy to suppress the voice of an ordinary Netizen like Chyetanya Kunte just because of the fact that it does not have it's own Political Union to back it up? Think twice. A student journalist James Earl was arrested by Egyptian police for photographing an anti-government demonstration. He just had time to send one word from him cellphone – “ARRESTED”. That’s all it took to get him free. His phone was connected to Twitter, and his words reached his friend in US through that. And within no time they informed the US Embassy, his home University of Berkeley and the Associated Press. And in case you were living under the rock for the past few decades, Twitter is a microblogging service. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the kind of power this blogging media possess.

4. Stop being like an emo kid, coming back from school crying just because someone said something about you. Grow up! A personality as great as Einstein had to face immense criticism in his time, he remained unmoved which speaks volume about his character.

5. If you want US to hear your opinion then you should also be ready to hear from US. If you want US to listen to your criticism then be prepared to hear criticism from US. Journalism is not just holding a microphone and asking stupid questions like "how do you feel about your husband's death?"! It works fine for gaining TRPs (temporarily, mind it), but it takes a lot more than that to become a journalist.

Last week I was reading an article on Amit Verma's blog about how Mint had barred Vir Sanghvi from exercising his Right to Free Speech. In Vir Sanghvi's own words:

I will not write for a publication that censors its columnists and denies them the right to free speech while writing long, impassioned pieces about the freedom to criticize others from the Prime Minister downwards. All of us exhibit double standards to some degree. But Mint's hypocrisy takes my breath away.
But atleast Mint was sporting enough when Vir openly attacked them on his own blog. They did not go to Vir Sanghvi to ask him to delete posts and write apologies. I understand that the verbiage used by Chyetanya Kunte was not quite professional, but who is to decide that? And not always would I like to voice my opinion in a suave manner. So please stop being a bully, be open to criticism. And if you cannot, then stop this farce in the name of "bringing truth on our screen", cause all you would be doing is selling news.

Freedom of Speech had always been under attack from various sources in the past, but it hurts all the more when it comes from people whose battlecry should be Freedom of Speech. So my request to all the Netizens, both from India and abroad, it's time to raise your voice. If you have a blog of your own, then please put up this button on your blog and write a post on this unfortunate incident. Please, spread the word, otherwise, you might be the next Chyetanya Kunte.

Voice your concern, grab this button:
Freedom of Speech Button

8 Comment:


well if we track down the history of press...from the time of buckingham...freedom of speech was always put into question...who is to decide what is right and what is wrong...if something is right to me..it may be wrong for somebody else. blogging is a new genre devoloped thesedays who people voice their own thoughts..whether through write ups or poems.....and such people should be ready for criticism..whether good or bad....
as far as freedom of speech goes....the whole issue has somewhat become very cliched.

Julia Scissor said...

I read Kunte's post too and then read about it's withdrawal. I too would have removed the post had I been in his place. We individuals often don't have the resources or energy to take on media mammoths. Given the snail-paced legal procedure, going to the courts is also not an option.

Julia Scissor said...

Maybe we should a union of bloggers like this one:

Rajtilak Bhattacharjee said...

@Julia Scissor : The Blogger's Unite is quite a powerful medium. But unfortunately, they don't focus on issues faced by bloggers all over the world.

Julia Scissor said...

Why not start our own? I remember a few years ago, a blogger was served a legal notice by the Indian Institute of Planning and Management for publishing an article that rubbished its tall claims. We need to get our act together.

Rajtilak Bhattacharjee said...

@Julia Scissor : Yes, I remember Rashmi Bansal and Mr Ponytail. It's a nice idea that you have put forward, but how do you plan to go about it?

Julia Scissor said...

apparently this guy was threatened with legal action. there is little we can do apart from symbolism, say, sporting badges or buttons on your blogs. Really don't know how to go about it? :p

Rajtilak Bhattacharjee said...

@Julia Scissor : Well, I have got a few plans made based on what you had suggested earlier. Maybe we can talk about it sometime and see if you can start something new for the betterment of the Blogosphere.

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