'Democracy does not guarantee freedom of speech': Kamal Haasan at Harvard University

Veteran actor and film maker Kamal Haasan speaking at the annual India Conference of Harvard University in downtown Boston said democracy is a work in progress which requires constant vigilance to safeguard it.

Kamal Haasan said freedom of speech cannot be taken for granted. He spoke of the Emergency and "voices silenced in plain sight for the world to see". Democracy does not guarantee freedom of speech, CNN IBN quotes the actor saying at the Boston event.

Kamal Haasan has said he was against the word "tolerance" as he underlined that all communities need to "accept" each other to save the country from disintegration.

Haasan, during a "fireside chat" with students of the prestigious Harvard University, said the country has already lost its two arms — Bangladesh and Pakistan — and all efforts should be made to maintain the unity and integrity of the country.

Citing the example of a sleeveless sweater knit in green thread among other colours, Haasan said, "It (India) is a sweater which is already knit with green thread (among other colour wools). You just can't pull (the green thread). There is no sweater left then."

Democracy does not guarantee freedom of speech: Kamal Haasan at Harvard University

Kamal Haasan. Firstpost/Naresh Sharma

"We have already lost the sleeves of the sweater — Bangladesh and Pakistan (have) gone. It's a sleeveless sweater So let's keep the sweater. It's getting cold," he said amid applause from the young Indian students studying at the Harvard University and other higher educational institutions around Boston including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Haasan's answer came in response to a question from one of the students who wanted to seek his views on voices of intolerance coming from some of the popular Bollywood stars like Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan.

"I am against the word tolerance. You do not tolerate; you accept a friend. Why should you tolerate everything? It is a view either you accept it or not accept it? Why do you tolerate?" Haasan asked.

"Intolerance is there because you are tolerating it. Do not tolerate. Accept the Muslims as your co-citizens. Do not tolerate them. Accept the Hindus (as your co-citizen). That's the problem of tolerant. Accept it (Muslims) because you are not going to take away the green in your Indian flag," the popular Indian actor told the audience.

The intolerance debate had raged in India recently with many writers, artists and civil society members expressing alarm over the issue.

With PTI inputs

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Feb 09, 2016 04:59:11 IST

Also See