Lavanya Opines

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Freedom of Speech & Protest

I am very much disturbed at what has happened at Ramjas College. I was very disturbed when Rohit Vemulla killed himself and issue was politicized. Yet I stayed quite. I was very disturbed when Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested for sedition and news reports emerged that anti-national slogans were shouted in JNU campus. Yet I stayed quite. But this time, things have gone too far.

What is wrong is asking JNU student Umar Khalid in airing his views on ‘Culture of Protest’? Present students are the ones who will be shaping the future of this country. They will become politicians, policy makers, bureaucrats, administrators, and so many other types of professional who will have influence of economic and political situations of the country. Whats wrong then that they want to understand different view points from the same people who were condemned for having different view-point?

Freedom of speech is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Why does it had to be wrapped under ‘nationalism’ and ‘united India’ sentiments? Just because I have some negative opinion about what is currently happening in the country, am I anti-national? Just because I see problems in what you are doing and I express my views about the same, am I anti-national? Just because I have different political view and follow different political ideology, am I anti-national? Just because I want to protest against something, am I anti-national?

Freedom of speech is not only right to express one owns thoughts but also duty to listen to others expressing themselves. Then why Umar Khalid wasn’t even given a chance to say his piece before the students. What would have happened after hearing him? A student, who was condemned as ‘anti-national’ for holding protest, wasn’t allowed to put forth his views before students about ‘protests’; and further protests followed to ‘protest’ this outcome. Is anyone seeing the irony over here.

I am totally upset and disappointed with Randeep Hooda, Virendra Sehwag, and Yogendra Yadav. They seem to have forgotten that entire generations got involved in freedom movement only because of these so-called ‘anti-national’ view points. Our forefathers went to jail for being ‘anti-nationals’ so that we could have ‘freedom of speech’. I am disappointed because in your so called ‘knowledge’ you have forgotten what is a ‘freedom of speech’ after all. Or should I say, we will be soon seeing you endorsing some political parties and therefore these jibes are your way of earning brownie points.

DU, JNU, and Jamia are places where knowledge is gained, where the knowledge is tested and validated against present times by discussions, where views are exchanged to create opinions, break them, and again create new opinions. Unless we speak what is in our minds, how will we know what is right and what is wrong? Unless we discuss different opinions, view points, ideologies, how will we become a democracy?



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Is leaving the only way out ??

I read an article titled ‘Interstellar: Magnificent film, insane fantasy’ by George Monbiot in The Guardian, republished in Hindustan Times on November 13, 2014. I haven’t seen the film so i am not commenting about the same. But I am writing about what Mr. Monbiot wrote about which intrigued me. In sum and substance Mr. Monbit wrote that films like Interstellar promote the idea of leaving the Earth and moving to other planet in search of life, but with few select species. He said that such genre is popular because of Technological optimism and Political defeatism. Well, in a way that is true when we see the horrors everyday. But why do we sometimes find that instead of fighting back, leaving is the only way out?

Today we are seeing so much of unrest everywhere. Radical fanatical fundamentalists are bringing hell down on Earth to prove some point. Some dictators want to prolong their dictatorship for life. These are not new things that are happening. But in past, there were people who stood up against them and fought for each one of us. Lincoln stood and fought for making America free from slavery. Gandhi stood by his non-violence principle to get freedom of India. Had they thought of leaving and abandoning their goal, we would have still be wriggling and withering in worst human conditions. History is replete with stories of great personalities who instead of leaving, fought back and brought a change. We marvel at the various feats that have been achieved in those days where technology was not as advanced as today.  If only we could see through the history, we may find problems to our solutions.

P.S.: The article by Mr. Monbiot can be read here

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Reservations were actually to bring the initally left out ones to a podium where they can have a say.But by and large it has become a game of only getting electrole votes. The government should have now started delineating the “reservation” in terms of “certain identities” – religion, sex, caste and region”. Instead it should focus on “qualification”, “economic condition”, “working status”. By and large, a cosmopolition era has begun and is penetrating deep into towns also. Instead, I am well shocked with the “women’s reservation bill” being passed in the assembly. It will lead to dirty politics and mud slinging.