NOTE : 1000 ODD WORD POST AHEAD 🙂
The latest victim of the very misunderstood system of rights in India is the Freedom of free speech. It is not surprising that the transgressor happens to be NDTV and Barkha Dutt, which is appalling and at the same time completely expected. I mean the media with their very twisted and very liberal interpretations of the laws and constitutions of the Republic of India have almost overtaken the Supreme court in explaining what each right means and how our freedom of rights should be put into use. For all their criticism of the self policing by the Ram sena and other extreme religious groups, they have fallen for their own grandiose verbiage and have managed to create their own morality. As generalized a statement as this might be, my irritation and displeasure is targeted primarily at those few channels which have built an empire and have become these huge corporations that have managed to hold some kind of soft power in the governmental institutions, the very same they are supposed to report on objectively and have crossed the line to the point where their reporting no longer educates the public, but infuriates a majority and no longer is unbiased and non prejudiced. This is actually a bigger problem that it might seem. For bloggers whose rights are being violated, a system exists which makes their voice heard and through which they and the rest of the blog reading world come to understand the action and the consequence and the blatant violations and plagiarism that takes place. it is, however essential to understand that the bloggers who seriously blog about the government, the media and the various ills and goodness of the society are but a small drop in the electorate ocean. More than 60 -70% of the voting population in India are the poor and the illiterate and the rural population who thanks to the prodigious spread of television and multi lingual news channels, rely solely on channels like NDTV and IBN for their daily news. Their news comes either from these channels or from a local paper read aloud in a corner ‘chaya shop” The suffer doubly. Very rarely are they educated about what their rights are, what they are entitled to under the Indian constitution, the fact the 113 of the members they elected to the Lok Sabha are criminals or the fact that they can actually question their local representative and understand the civics of the Indian government. I am sure half the urban population have little idea of this either. The Indian constitution is one of the strongest and most liberal constitution ever written and the fact that it is open to amendments and also gives various faiths a ground to stand on and express their faith without the fear of being arrested makes it one of the most unique constitutions in the democratic world. The pitiable part is people rarely take time to understand it, listen to proper interpretations of it or put it into action. Rights are always violated, the election is always derailed and every law and by law bent and stepped upon. Due recognition, however has to be given to the Supreme court which has managed to bring perpetrators to task when given a chance, but chance is what remains elusive.
There is however, one thing that has to be kept in mind. A lot of bloggers have compared the Obama election to a golden age and have bemoaned the lack of such a leader in India. The truth is democracy and the American constitution is no perfect either. I have been a student of Politics and a teacher of Racism and Sexism in the US. I know for a fact that minority rights – the rights of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and Native Indians have been violated time and time again. This is also the country where in two consecutive elections, the votes of whole states where not counted properly and where minorities are repeatedly barred because of some technicality or other from voting. This is the country where Native Indians are absolutely at the bottom of the barrel, where infant morality rate is the highest in the developed world and where education is extremely class oriented often leaving a huge chunk of the population behind. There are also criminal elements within this system…case in point Blagojevich, who is the fourth of the Illinois governor to be found guilty of corruption. The previous governor is in Jail right now. Bush was not the only president who interpreted the constitution to suit his purposes, every government has done it. Corruption here is rampant too. Corruption here just means lobbying agencies give trips to Bahamas and Maldives as opposed to grass for cows or fodder for goats. One Black man does not automatically erase the eons of violations against the black people or his election immediately does not usher in a golden age. For all their talk about separating religion from politics, the government – even now sponsors a faith based initiative to aid some people and the president’s faith and his belief in God plays a very intrinsic role. Explains why so far only one roman catholic has ever been elected and why for every inauguration, a pastor publicly prays. India is better that way, the faith of the prime minister or president rarely matters. The democratic system in India does have room for improvement, but comparing it to a system which has so far not elected one woman and took 400 years to elect a minority, where there has consistently been less that 50% voting as compared to more than 75 in India and still follows some archaic election methods does not do us justice. Elections held with very little hitches for a billion people is surely much more complicated as is ruling a billion people with more languages than states and more religious beliefs, all of which can be publicly displayed.
Yes there needs to be changes. No system can survive be it governmental or religious without adapting to the beat of a nation and without altering itself to accommodate newer ideas and ideals. All this was identified by Kings like Ashoka, Akbar, Philosophers like Vivekananda, Al-biruni and by leaders like Ambedkar and Abdul Kalam. Change has been part of the fabric of India long before. We just need to make it a much more active part of politics and that can only be stated by people taking politics seriously and educating themselves about Indian civics and Indian constitution. Change is what we bring in, not something we can expect to be showered from above.