Thursday, August 20, 2009
Our Pseudo Democracy
There's never a dull moment in India's political arena. Jaswant Singh's new book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence has invited the wrath of his own party men. The BJP promptly and ungraciously booted him out for airing his views on Jinnah and the partition, as well as some unflattering comments on Sardar Patel. Having condoned Varun Gandhi's inflammatory speeches against a minority community and now kicking JS out for what they deem "pro Jinnah" views, just what sort of a 'secular' message are they sending out to us voters? JS (whose previous books have courted controversy too) remains unrepentant, questioning the right of people to impose shackles on free thinking. Good on you, JS!
While the party can rightly justify their actions to some extent by saying that JS's opinions are not in keeping with the party's ideology, there is absolutely no justification for imposing a ban on the book in a few BJP-ruled states.
The last time I checked, this was a democracy ("the world's largest" as we take pride in trumpeting). As citizens of this supposed democracy, don't we have the right to freedom of expression? Doesn't it also give us the freedom of choice? I can choose to read the book or not. I don't need someone dictating what I should or should not read. I have the right to air my plentiful opinions but I definitely do not have the right to impose my views or restrictions on another individual.
Besides, how will banning the book in a few states, stop anyone from buying it from elsewhere? And then there's always Amazon, just have it shipped right to your doorstep!
JS is likely to have the last laugh. He remains a Member of Parliament, and can probably laugh all the way to the bank thanks to the free publicity that a couple of ignorant, rigid party leaders gave his book. Everybody loves a good controversy. That in itself is a fantastic farewell present.