Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Free speech? Clever cover for India bashing


Hypocrisy of Left-liberal commentariat

Activist-author-anarchist Arundhati Roy remains recalcitrant. On Tuesday she issued a statement, in which, among other things, she “the people of Kashmir live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world”, “the Indian poor pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state”, “pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds”. Curiously, or perhaps not, she claimed “Dalit soldiers” are getting killed in Jammu & Kashmir.

On Sunday, speaking at a seminar on ‘Wither Kashmir: Freedom or Enslavement’ in Srinagar, Arundhati Roy said, “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact.” She said she was proud to associate herself with “resistance movements” across India and counselled Kashmiris to “consolidate the gains” of the recent four months of anti-India agitation. “The power concedes nothing unless it is forced to,” she said, and demanded demilitarisation of Jammu & Kashmir. Then she went on to urge Kashmiris not to join the State police and the Central Reserve Police Force.

Strangely, Arundhati Roy questioned the legitimacy of Kashmiris electing their own Government: “You (Kashmiris) should think how the elections were used against you.” In the same breath she added, “The Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy has not been elected.” Does she then, at least, admit India is the “world’s largest democracy”? Of course not! “India is behaving like a colonial power and suppressing one community at the hands of the other … They are sending Nagas to Kashmir and Punjabis to Manipur.”

The Union Ministry for Home Affairs believes there is sufficient evidence by way of Arundhati Roy’s seditious utterances to prosecute her under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code. This section says:

Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

Explanation 1-The expression "disaffection" includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
Explanation 2-Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
Explanation 3-Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.

The Home Ministry is said to be waiting for “political clearance”. The Congress is believed to be of the view that while a case should be filed against her and she should be prosecuted, Arundhati Roy should not be arrested to avoid “negative publicity abroad”. And what if the courts hold her guilty and send her to jail? What then? Or is the Congress banking on the decrepit criminal justice system to drag the case for years and decades, by when it will be inconsequential whether she is punished or not.

Over the weekend, three distinct viewpoints have emerged. First, Arundhati Roy should be prosecuted. Second, we should ignore her just as others on the lunatic fringe are ignored. Third, she should be allowed to have her say because “freedom of speech is guaranteed” by the Constitution of India. I have already expressed my opinion on the first two points. The last view merits further comment.

Contrary to popular belief, popularised no doubt by illiterate and ill-informed members of south Delhi’s Left-liberal commentariat that rules ‘national media’, freedom of speech is not unrestrained in India.

The Constitution provides for "the right to freedom of speech and expression" [Article 19(1) a]. However this right is subject to restrictions under sub-clause (2), whereby this freedom can be restricted for reasons of "sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, preserving decency, preserving morality, in relation to contempt, court, defamation, or incitement to an offence”.

Arundhati Roy is clearly in breach of these restrictions. Anybody else violating sub-clause 2 would have faced the ire of the state. Second, by slyly referring to “Dalit soldiers” and urging Kashmiris not to join the police and CRPF, she is prima facie guilty of far worse.

That apart, for the Left-liberals to argue in support of free speech is disingenuous. The same freedom is rudely curbed when the Right wants to exercise this right.

As my friend and one of the leading scholars of West Asia, Barry Rubin, recently wrote, albeit in a different context, “Leftist attacks are designed to demonise, destroy and silence … Conservatives have been often demonised and, given liberal suspicion toward that side of the political spectrum, many liberals have believed whatever they’ve been told by often highly partisan and dishonest sources, failing to insist on fair play. Ridicule conservatives and moderate, traditional liberals will accept it without checking quotes, listening to responses, and demanding accuracy”.

In justification of their intolerance, bigotry and belligerence, the Left-liberals say, “We must draw a distinction between ‘hate speech’ and ‘free speech’.” Really? When does ‘free speech’ become ‘hate speech’? When it bruises bogus Left-liberal sensitivities? And, what if I were to insist, for good reason, that Arundhati Roy’s ‘free speech’ is ‘hate speech’ disguised in cockamamie jargon?

We could also ask whether those who have suddenly become vocal in protecting unrestricted 'free speech', which rests on the principle of absolute freedom to say anything, irrespective of consequences, had been equally vocal in protecting Varun Gandhi's right to say what he is alleged to have said (he says the tape was doctored; the issue is in court) during last summer's election campaign.

Arundhati Roy claims to be speaking for ‘justice’. There can be no justice till such time India is burdened with a flawed system based on the notion of laws being equal for all but privileges being different. The laws which she is accused of having violated shall never be applied to her because she belongs to the ‘intellectual elite’, the club of English-speaking professional dissenters who thrive on media publicity, who are feted by the commentariat, who are promoted by foreign media keen to portray India as a banana republic. Yet, the same laws are applied to others who are less privileged than Arundhati Roy and her gang of cheer leaders.

There is merit in the argument that nothing should be done to help Arundhati Roy achieve her goal of being seen as India’s Liu Xiaobo. There’s nothing she would love more than that and the adulation which would follow.

Yet, it rankles that she should listen to the grasshoppers sing while others serve time for offences far less serious. This is neither just nor fair. It’s definitely not my idea of justice.

What do you think?

29 comments:

My Two Cents said...

I agree with your friend Swapan Dasgupta on this one. Society must ignore her provocations. If she is arrested or otherwise prosecuted, that will give her too much publicity. If/when she is produced in court, she will say something so outrageous that their lordships may book her for contempt of court as well, and that will give her even more publicity.

I said on your blog sometime back that she is the Gloria Steinem of our politics. She will fade with time, but as a society, we should be patient.

Mehul said...

Absa-tubely!
And yet, the Indian Govt is justified in biding its time to build a case before it moves in on Miss Roy. That is one of the hazards of dealing with media-savvy manipulators - you cannot afford to react to them; they need to be cornered carefully.

Anonymous said...

Actually, beyond these constitutional clauses, if anyone (citizen of India) demonstrate anti-India characterics must automatically be punished.

The nationalists and patriots must need to asser more in a country like ours where loose liberals and splitists enjoy the Rock star status.

theone said...

Also saw Mr. Shanti Bhushan arguing in IBN channel that Roy is just proposing a peaceful way to solve the issue by allowing the people of kashmir to separate from India!! Why cannot such people separate themselves from our country. Government can atleast cancel their passport.

Govt can leave the big fish for whatever fear they have, but prosecute with vengance the small fish like the guy who organized the symphosium, at least he can get some real taste of revolutionary life. The Roys dont act alone, they have a support structure based on people working under the guise of low key activists and that needs to be demoralized. Dont torture but apply the law and let them also have some fun in jails and courts.

Siva said...

Ignoring her is the best thing to do....otherwise she will get what she had desired. By going against her we are trying to give her more popularity which is otherwise down.

I am Right said...

Yes sir, I completely agree with you. However, there should be different strategy to deal with these kind of anti-social and anti-national elements. strategy should be subtle but a master stroke. I seriously doubt whether she is eying on Nobel "peace" prize.

sunaath said...

This learned fiction-writer has no idea of facts of history. Kashmir was ruled by a great Indian like Harshvardhana whose empire extended upto river Godavari. Another great Indian from Kerala, i.e. Shanakaracharya founded a `matha' in Kashmir. All these Kasmiris inherit the same Indian blood. But, they are blinded by religious fundamentalism. But, what is wrong with Arundhati Roy? A desire to be in international limelight at the cost of her nation and the truth?

Pradeep Doda said...

What is said in this article is what happens everyday in all sphere of life.Law is differently applied ,it is never same for rich/politicians and poor.Govt of the day decides where and how to use/bend /change the law depending where and how his interest is served.There is no rule of law in our nation anymore.Nobody is worried about law.
This is well known,and now Aam Adami is looking for ways and means to stop this misuse .We need articles to guide us as how we can do this and not inform us of one more case where law is misused/not used or used selectively to help powerful /connected people.

Vivek said...

I think this entire issue of Arundhati Roy is much beyond the general filth that the Left Liberal establishment in India typically vents out verbally or displays it through their respective areas of specialization (read Politics,Art,Activism & TV Channels etc)
I think Arundhati has a goal in mind for herself and she is relentlessly pursuing it to the best of her ability.
Suppose if there was a mad man roaming on streets and harassing commoners. Would it be wise on part of the common man or even the police to go to the mad man and ask him “Hey mad man, why r u doing this madness???? or for tat matter seeking a political party’s help to get the mad man to stop his madness or lets say publishing a preventive advertisement in Newspaper for people to be cautious about the activities of the Mad Man. Coz then again a lot many people would come to know that there is a mad man existing.

The only solution for the problem would be put the mad man into a mental asylum and get him treated or at least let him be there.

Arundhati Roy is “ARUNDHATI ROY” because the media gives her the space. This lady is very desperate to go to Jail, more so after the Chinese fellow got the Nobel prize recently. I seriously think that instead of arresting her, it would have been wise had the media single mindedly “blacked her out” from TV channels and space her out from Newspapers. I am very sure she would become an even bigger “Arundhati Roy” if she is arrested and we would have to see her pictures all the more and hear her stories more and more. She would walk out ultimately and would be granted the image of a “Martyr” and may even go on to get the Nobel Prize after that for which she is very focussed.
Finally the BIGGER question that needs to be answered is “What kind of a country are we? What are our Priorities?? What are our tolerance levels??? Whether India as a country is even willing to implement its constitution and rule of Law on its elitist “5th Columnists”???
Only if media stops showing her on TV completely and flashing her comments, she is too small to be even called a “Problem”
CHEERS!!!!!!!!!

Vivek Acharya.
Kolkata.
@BluntyCorner on Twitter

Manohar Seetharam said...

I think it wouldn't be wise to arrest her and allow her to gain more space and bandwidth in the public discourse. People must take the initiative and organise large scale protest meetings against her and publicise those events. Kashmiri's must be told that the Indian public is sympathetic to their greiavances about governance issues but associating with naxal sympathisers will only be counter productive.

On a larger issue about left-liberal thinkers and speakers I feel that the conservative school of thought must also speak about justice and deprivation issues and have an independent take on these issues and not merely stay confined to opposing the left-liberal thought process.

Kiran Kumar S said...

The real agenda of Arundhati could be to become India's equivalent of Myanmar's Aung Sun Suu Kyi.

Get arrested for #Kashmir & win Nobel!

I listened carefully to her entire speech at Delhi via Youtube & posted dozens of tweets on Twitter. She has exceeded all standards, even the ridiculous levels of anti-India rhetoric of left loonies.

Yes, please arrest her, but not let her take advantage of that during Obama's visit to force Nobel committee to gives their 3rd most undeserving Peace award after Arafat & Obama.

prashhanthkpp said...

Cannot AGREE with you more Sir. There is an obvious disparity at the level of freedom of speech one can and should make, from person to person. Hate speech does not dilute its menace when spoken by A.Roy and becomes venomous when Varun Gandhi or Narendra Modi speaks out. Constitutional rights of citizens should not be preferential or circumvented according to the whims of the incumbent government.

Manish Tiwari's abhorrent defense of A.Roy's speech and his Government's lackadaisical approach in initiating action that demands such an insulting crime only proves beyond suspect, especially in the international forum, that India can be brutally attacked from within.

To me, she should be punished. Her arrest and imprisonment should hardly have any consequence on the interlocutors' assignment. If they do attach significance to comments emanating from a worthless bohemian, that spells disaster.

Thanks for the constitutional insights Sir. Excellent, if I may say so.

JayKumar said...

Suzzane Arundhati Roy is more a frustrated women than an intellectual literary figure as media and some persona from same literary projects her most of the time on TV screen day and night.

She is worried more for not providing enough food to poor or poor don’t have cloth to wear she is in state of frustration just because South Super Star Rajnikanth who don’t even look good, has un even eye shapes, don’t have 6 pack, can’t even speak fluent English compared to what JNU and Delhi University product speaks, works with Beauty pigeon “Aiswarya Roy Bachan” and is making money across the world and people recognizes praises him as a “King Of Film World” compares him with Big B and not her who has won world best literary award “Booker prize”. Even Rajni’s visit to Bal Thakrey and saying he is like “My God” would have added more “Garam Masala” to her frustration.

She might have seen on TV set that techies in Bnaglore paid 5000 to 8000 Rupees to get 1 ticket for his latest movie “Robot” and “Enthiran” in Tamil same scene was seen across all Hi tech cities of our country Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune but same techies don’t bother to buy her book which she wrote and got rewarded. She might be running out of money as she might be not getting royalty from publisher any more for her book sell. Her awarded book cost hardly 595 Rupees then too no one seems to be interested in purchasing her thoughts an ideology.

continued....

JayKumar said...

continued...

She gives example of Dalit soldier’s dead body lying on garbage in cudalore in
Tamil Nadu what she was doing then why she didn’t raised her pitch against state govt after all ruling party in TN is Dravidian party once Justice party of India who pretended to the nation that they are messiah of Dalit then why such un usual scene is seen in Dravidian state.

To stop Kashmiri Pandit from raising their voice in New Delhi they employed bouncer from pub and beer bar in the name of university students.

Leftist intellectual are in demand in foreign varsity for their Anti-India stand but we don’t want them to spread their venom in India.

All she is trying to grab attention of this countries younger generation but she is utter useless women that we young generation will pay head to her nonsensical thoughts and write up she is distributing to people via house of media.

To us Rajni and Big B is like our God and we don’t want a women whose stature is as small as “God Of Small Things”, like her book also she became too small to the people of this country that people started branding her and separatist including house of media as terrorists and anti-nationalists.

This Journalist, leftist and media intellectual will need to work very hard to win the peoples confidence and to resurrect their image moreover will also not survive with out our support also that’s for sure.

Sandeep said...

On the assumption that Ms. Roy has in fact chosen to act as 'agent provocateur' in said speech, one needs to delve further than a bare reading of the exceptions to Article 19(1)(a) of our Constitution and technically examine (i.e. from a legal perspective) whether or not Ms. Roy is guilty of any offense.

You state that the Union Ministry for Home Affairs believes that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute her for 'sedition', whereas this report says the cops believe otherwise (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Cops-face-legal-hurdle-to-slapping-sedition-charge/articleshow/6818916.cms).

The offense being bandied about is "sedition", which she most certainly is not guilty of. I am a member of the legal community and I know there isn't sufficient evidence to allege "sedition". (The linked TOI report is fairly comprehensive on the legal aspects, so I will dispense with backing up this statement, but am happy to clarify or respond to any points you might have)

Shiva Subramanian said...

There's probably enough to enough to send her to jail, but *surely* there's enough to force her to seek treatment in a mental health facility.

This latter choice is a win-win for all.

Anonymous said...

I just love reading all these wannabe pundits seething with envy.

The line and the lie- "Ms. Roy is just some media whore."

The fact- She touches the hearts of millions of people across the world. Due in no small part to the sincerity she has for human causes.

I've read a lot of comments from people from India bashing Ms. Roy that sound just like the right wing nutters here in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Arresting Arundhati Roy is fraught with trouble for India--there are too many white women wannabe radicals in the overconsuming West who would raise too much of a squawk and the nobs in GOI are too noodle-kneed to stand up to them. I have a better idea that will let us relieve our feelings of anger and frustration without the risk.

Why don't we find poor Taslima Nasreen and arrest her for Arundhati's impudent and seditious words? Or, maybe even give Taslima a nice thrashing as well. It is harmless, no one will come to Taslima's defense either in India or in the West, and from what the Leftists and Muslims tell me, it can be quite an entertaining and fun experience for the whole family.

There is precedent for this in our culture--when the Royal Prince of erstwhile Hyderabad state was at school, they sent along a substitute kid who was there only to be thrashed whenever his Young Highness misbehaved. And Arundhati is nothing if not a Princess.

So, Kanchan Gupta, can I count on you to produce Taslima and do the needful as they say back home?

M. Patil said...

Putting AR in jail will boomerang on India and Indians. Instead publicize the fact that she is

(i) Occupying land of Tribals, of whom she claims to champion.

(ii) Being a supporter of ethnic cleansing and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits by her sringent support of Islmofascists like Geelani and Co.

So she is anything but a liberal, she is more like Goebbels. B.t.w does anyone have pictures of her hobnobbig with ISI in PAK?

HyperActiveX said...

When it comes to people like Arundhati Roy and the Thackerays, the Govt. seems to get stuck between a rock and a hard place. Regardless of how many laws they may break, and how often, throwing them in jail could result in more harm than good. Albeit at two different levels, in these two cases.

The other view is to just go ahead and do it, with a "Jo hoga so hone do" attitude - call it ballsy or call it brash. Maybe the time has come to take that view rather than suffer from analysis paralysis.

HinduBengal said...

Arundhati roy can Rant whatevr she wants, but will she ever be concerned of kashmiri pandits
or this incident on Navami (durga puja) in bardhaman,West bengal.
durga Puja Mandap attacked ..... RAF have been deployed their due to muslim rioting.
Even after Deganga Incident The muslims are continously attcaking us in WB

SHEKHAR SENGAR said...

Sir, these intellectuals are good for nothing. Instead of advocating India at national and international platform, they make stories and sell them through their English circle of friends. These symptathisers of Maoism and Islamic terrorism are as dangerous as the Maoist and terrorist are, and thus should be brought to law asap.

Shekhar Sengar
http://saffron-pages.blogspot.com/

Chinmay Kumar said...

Here the thing is not about Roy's popularity. it is truth vs Reality.

her statements are half true half false

Anonymous said...

Kanchanda. I really want to see on a TV show and provoke the pseudo-life-liberal news channels with your arguments. Seems like everyone is championing Ms.Roy's right to free speech. Wonder where they parked their brains when Varun Gandhi was being accused of something similar!!!!

vblord said...

Dear Sir,
If stone pelting mob can sway the weak government in Delhi then if the youths of whole of India start pelting stones at 10 Racecourse or 10 Janpath then they should constitute a three member panel to look after our grievances against the jihadis and secessionist, basically the government is setting a precedent for violence as a mean to get legitimacy

Anonymous said...

to be honest she kind of reminds me of hippies..she talks rubbish & gets away with it..the govt should not arrest her..she will use it to become a hero,india will look like a villain internationally & she will lead to more stupid resistance movements in india..just ignoring is good enough..the same case with zaid hamid in pak..talk stupid but nobody cares

seadog4227 said...

Sic some love-jehadis on her!

Anonymous said...

This is something called Islamic paradox. They want all the rights to "freedom of speech" to masquerade the very idea of Democracy with us. While they want to forfeit our right of "freedom of speech" to question their very fundamentals. The......y want an unquestioned, totalitarian control to censor each and every aspect of our life. They are outraged at each and everything an infidel does. As a matter of fact, as a true muslim, they are outraged at the very existence of infidels and apostates.

With Hindus it is actually the fight of Secularism vs Sharia. Hinduism is secular religion while most of Western faiths are not. West has always seen Hinduism through colored glasses. Kashmiri's Idea of "Azadi" is clearly "secession from India". Pro secessionists like Barkha Haseeb A. Drabu or Likes of Liberal Muslims like Barbara here, want to disguise and misrepresent it to make safe playground for actual secessionists. But it is a matter of faith - the core ideology for them. In the view of its "secular" image, India is always scared to accept the fact that it is Islam vs Democracy. India must understand what is secularism and how one-sided secularism is suicidal.

atulpatankar said...

An ex- MP from CPM barred the show of a play based on George Orwell's "Animal Farm" - read http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5036268, because play was "biased" and "designed at maligning the CPI-M".

If Arundhati were asked to shut up by govt, the leftist would have squealed the loudest. But ask them about freedom of expression in any communist countries – and they will tell you that there is no place for gossip mongers and distracters in the dictatorship of the proletariat. Freedom of expression is just a tool to convert dar-ul-capitalism to dar-ul-communism, and it becomes redundant in a communist state.