Image credits: Christal Ferrao

Freedom of speech and expression

Freedom of speech and expression is not just a modern day practice, but rather a dedication to the martyrs of the then freedom struggle in the country that lost many lives so that this freedom could be achieved. It is a part of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.  This essence of democracy calls for free debate and discussion to enable citizens understand issues around them.

It is like an encouragement to enable an artist generate a plethora of ideas without fear. It invites performers from their respective domains to bring to the forefront a huge array of perspectives that could serve to change the policies and practices of a country. This could be well seen in films made by filmmakers like Rajkumar Hirani, Prakash Jha, Kamala Hassan and certain others. They have gone by the actual role of their art to not just be one to ideate but also profess an ideology of being anti-establishment so that one side of it does not only receive the selective light, but every side so that it can be seen in totality and developed if seen as faulty.

But questions and faults are not easily digested. Hence, in the recent past, this glorified freedom has taken a back seat. Censorship and politically supportive pieces have become a celebrated priority.  “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” said George Orwell.

Hence, irrespective of the content and favouritism, it is a need to shape public opinion in society. There are debates and discussions, documentaries, investigative developmental journalism and citizen journalism that have emerged in the post-modern times so that all views are amassed and presented. The citizens of a country can then take a stance based on it and contribute to effective governing of a country. The right to information, anti-corruption campaigns, gender sensitisation and scams in various areas in society are some talks of the town that emerged in the light of it.

On one hand it is these criticisms that help the politicians to improve their functioning processes and mend the system accordingly; on the other hand it could benefit the political climate as in the case of Donald Trump, who after so much criticism from the media still managed to be elected as the President of USA.  It also helps people improve or sort out the differences of the nation if an individual is given to make a point that could transform into a standpoint in the future.

It also calls for the need of people of a community or culture to examine their practices of a society as seen in works of Perumal Murugan and Salman Rushdie. It also makes people think about the way they actually view society as seen in paintings of MF Hussain. But many times it is the artist that is questioned and not the issue. Only certain people like Khushwant Singh with his then column and Cyrus Broacha- Kunal Vijaykar with their television show through satire have not been victimised for their free expression although they have been criticised quite often for it.

A free mind and world is like an open chamber of new thoughts and ideas. It helps writers, artists, thinkers and decision makers to explore an issue by looking at a canvas of views and take a stance on various issues to facilitate effective functioning. Hence, there is a need for freedom of speech and expression.

Feedback welcome!