I am scared. Sh** scared. As a young Indian, I truly believe in the idea of India as enshrined in the constitution. But I feel scared for my freedom. Every now and then, I witness a development which is a blow to my freedom of expression and free speech.
I cannot have a discourse on Kashmir, I cannot convey my views about political leaders while they indulge in plunder, I cannot forward emails I want my friends and colleagues to read, I cannot openly critise government policies if I have a better alternative, I cannot even make an attempt to correct wrong perceptions. Correcting them involves discussion involves free flow of ideas involves dwelling on crucial and sometime sensitive issue. But the chances are that the moment I do one of these, I will be labeled as a traitor.
I am scared. With developments in sectors such as education, defence, science and engineering, we are also witnessing changes in the way we communicate. There is communication sans barriers that makes redundant the laws and regulations which govern traditional media.
New media is a different beast and needs handling of a different kind. Not the kind devised by the ruling government. New media throws new challenges to the government which is supposed to come up with ways to regulate it. With every such challenge, the government has two options: To win over those citizens who are users of new forms of communication or to treat the country as a school where pupils are punished for not following the decorum. It is clear that the government has chosen the second option and in the process, has lost the confidence of many youngsters.
I have not seen the British Raj. I read about it in my history textbook. But I don’t think it would have been different from the current Indian scenario but for the fact that at that time those calling the shots were not Indians.
Tribal folks, untouched by the sins of the modern world, are uprooted from their lands to make way for giant industries and/ or energy plants. Ministers who cut deals with industrial houses have no time to talk to its people. Those running industries have no money to give to displaced villagers. They are simply abandoned as if they never existed. Frustrated, when they take up arms, they are called anti- national.
Here I am not putting names to the states, villages and industries because the story is same across the country.
I have not studied law. I am not an authority on what is wrong in our laws and which of them needs a review. But I exist in society for which these laws are made. As a social creature, I am scared of my future.
I am scared as my idols are changing. I grew up reading books and watching films on independence, Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar, Jai Prakash. For many years, these I thought highly of these figures. That is changing now. My heroes are changing. My new idols are Arundhati Roy, Dr Binayak Sen, Balbir Krishan, Faraz Ahmed and Aseem Trivedi.