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    Is Liberty of Speech A Distant Dream In India? On The Occasion of 151st Gandhi Jayanti: Sujata Salvi+

    Published on October 2, 2020

    by Sachin Murdeshwar

    Mumbai: The Indian constitution has laid down fundamental rights for each citizen. Along with other rights, freedom of speech is also included in it. One will be able to openly express his opinion with few guidelines. Articles published in the newspapers, advertising, media reporting, social media, movies, and debates are a medium of doing so but let’s not forget that we are not allowed to misuse any of the platforms by spreading false information or rumours. But, is freedom of speech there?

    Before Independence

    Life in India before independence was miserable. The slavery laid upon us was brutal. The intense desire to be freed and break the chains of slavery led to a huge movement of independence. Soon we became independent. Independence – a single word with many meaningful dimensions. A word that we live, breathe and express. We are the lucky ones to live in the most populous democracy. Its history that liberty did not come easily to us, many laid their lives – leaders, freedom fighters, patriots fought till their last breath. Therefore, today we see India as a nation which can exercise self-government and sovereignty. A famous phrase quotes, “With freedom comes great responsibility”. 

    The Current scenario

    The article 19 gives freedom of speech and expression through which you can express your belief, opinions and views. But there are some guidelines such as it shouldn’t be a threat to the security of the nation, no incitement of offence or defamation, and go against the existing law. With freedom of speech there is responsibility too. One will have to exercise his/her right cautiously. 

    But, when it comes to women, are they devoid of their rights? It seems that freedom of speech remains a distant dream for women. Women are being ill-treated, victimized and this may continue. Women will also be mercilessly trolled on the internet. After all, being women they should be ready to face it at every stage, right? It is rightly said that a freedom of speech is a double-edged sword and may cut if not handled with care. But, who will bear the brunt of it? Of course, women! Today, not only celebrities but many women have been targeted on social media and a foul and filthy language is used to address them. Why aren’t people who abuse by choice been put behind the bars? Does this right differ from person-to-person? Not only this there is misogyny and sexism too. Even though there is a law, women are being bad mouth regularly and those who commit this crime are not even penalized. Even though we have got freedom there is no change in the attitude. There is lack of awareness and consciousness. Feminism still has miles to go.  

    Another incident is of Civil Rights Prashant Bhushan, who was convicted and fined by the honourable Supreme Court. Bhushan was fined Rs 1for his tweet against the judiciary. So, the question arises that where is democracy now? Do you have a freedom of speech? Is this a death of democracy? Do we need to reform the laws? 

    Awakening 

    Thinking about the very first statement in the article, is the misery gone? Are we being slaves of our actions? Do we justify the freedom given to us? Liberty of speech and expression in today’s age is considered as freedom to put forth opinion of an individual regardless the responsibility towards the society. In the haste of benefitting from right to speak and express, we blunderously are seen misusing it. The difference between India then and now is that in the later we are slaves of our actions. Actions which may cause harm to the peace and harmony of the society in a way which we never might have imagined. We as responsible citizens of a democratic nation should take this duty on a wider scope of protecting our future generations from being mislead by the freedom endowed to us. 

    Long live Democracy! Long live Liberty!

    Author Profile: Sujata Salvi holds an engineering degree from Pune university. She started her career as support engineer and now leads an IT organization as a COO. Through her writing she puts forth the journeys of common man’s life with authenticity. Her writings capture the changing dynamics of life in todays language. With a dynamic perspective Sujata is trying to capture all possible aspects of life through her writings in fiction, nonfiction, drama, literature, etc. She is following her passion to write and is set on a journey to explore the bright side of expressing.With writing she also adores reading.The writings mostly contain the emotional and sentimental front.

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