Home » Subject » Essay » JNU Row has opened up the debate on freedom of expression verses nationalism

JNU Row has opened up the debate on freedom of expression verses nationalism- Comment.


"The best road to progress is freedom's road." - John F Kennedy

Freedom of expression, as showcased by Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right of every individual to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Like all other rights this one too is not absolute. It has been chained by such tactics as that of censorship, press legislation, harassment of journalists, bloggers. The utterances ought to be an apple of discard even in relation to the suppression of religious freedom or religious minorities.

Freedom of expression bit by bit enhances the development, dignity and fulfillment of every person. Security and respect from the State is imbibed by the people. In addition such a right lays bare the quality of government. This machinery has not to build castles in the air but to fuse with the aspirations and desires of the citizens. Above all it acts as a catalyst in implementing all other forms of human rights.

Long before the arrival of English in India as traders, establishment of British empire in India and their policy of expansion at the cost of economic exploitation sparked the Indians to revolt against the foreign yoke. Thus the world was acquainted with the Great Uprising of 1857 that had failed miserably because of the suppression and a policy of political seasoned with economic exploitation. This transferred the simmering discontent among the Indians into a powerful flame. NATIONALISM is this flame; the love for one's own country i.e. patriotism. Imagine the burning sensation of this feeling that compelled the people to overthrow foreign domination and set their feet on a free nation.

In a democracy the citizens are blessed to express themselves fearlessly wherein nationalism is a ripen fruit. Most of the times the two are at logger heads. The ultimate result is mayhem within the territorial area slaughtering the innocence of the mockingbirds. Thinking needs courage. Addressing dangerous arguments on an intellectual plane is not meant for a coward or a tyrant. For the time being it has fell on stony ground. The eminent personalities tend to suppress and oppress this sapling from growing into a tree laden with fruits. Fruits that are relished and enjoyed by each of the countrymen. The last resort taken by them is to inflict the charge of 'sedition'. It can be inferred from the present scenario that the sedition law is custom-made to stifle critical opinion or independent expression of any sort.

JNU incident is a testimony to such a mishap. Kanhaiya Kumar, the current President of JNU Student's Union was arrested on allegedly raising anti- India slogans in a student rally. This rally was organized to protest the hanging of a Kashmiri separatist Mohammad Afzal Guru. He was convicted and found to have a hand in the Indian Parliament attack of 2001. The arrest of Kumar has witnessed a resentment. Surely it has coerced everyone to breathe new life into the freedom of expression by placing us in deep water.

Anti national slogans have caught the eyes of the mob. There are countable countries across the globe that allow the chanting of such slogans. Does these slogans have the audacity to pour cold water on the ignited marshal of NATIONALISM?

- SOMA SARKAR