Monday, March 14, 2011

Where the mind is without fear

The husband is coming back this week. I have already fixed up our weekend plan – we are going to Tihar Jail and yes we are going voluntarily.   I need to check out the complex, their living quarters (cell sounds so uncool).  Are there any shops there, especially Body Shop? The toilets, I hope they are clean.  I am very picky you know.  I just read in the papers, the government is planning to offer a free stay in Tihar for Bloggers.  Not that it’s a swanky resort but at least I won’t have to pay rent.   I’ll get to eat very healthy food which I might not want to eat at all.  I’ve heard they make you work really hard! Goody! It almost sounds like a health farm.  If only they won’t make me wear that boring uniform with a number printed on it.

You see, our Sarkaar in its humble attempt to become tech-savvy has accidentally stumbled upon a Utopian land called blogosphere.  A strange place whose denizens are free to speak their mind, are quick to point out injustice meted out, boldly express their rage at the sorry state of affairs, they question, rationalize, debate, and worse, spread awareness on the world wide web.   Our Netas are in a tizzy!   I beg to state but this shall not be tolerated. Why don’t we pass a bill in a language that no-one understands and shut them up for over. Let’s create confusion and chaos. Let’s have them cower in fear.  Citizens who walk with their head held high, who dare raise their voice, are a threat to democracy. We don’t want an Egypt on our hands do we?

We are living in strange times. With the advent of economic liberalisation we are zooming in the fast lane.  Our buildings are getting taller, cars swankier and our clothes slinkier.  We huff and puff to Lady Gaga singing I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.  We speak accented English, sip coffee at Gloria Jeans and swipe our multi coloured credit cards at Armani Exchange.

But has liberalization made us more liberal?

Someone somewhere was hounded out of the country for his “blasphemous” paintings.   In a desert country the revered artiste pines for his motherland. 

Someone somewhere just got shot at point blank range by the grandson of ex MLA of Jatavpur. He didn’t like her face.

Someone somewhere was lynched by an angry mob for trying to steal a rusty bicycle.  Our ministers embezzle crores of public money – we tch tch, shake our heads in disgust and crack a few jokes at their expense.

Someone somewhere was dragged out of the bar and beaten up by the watchdogs of morality. How dare the great Indian Naari strut around in jeans, hold hands with a man and enjoy her beer.  Look how education corrupts!

Someone somewhere said it’s fine for young girls to have pre-marital sex and no educated man should expect his wife or girlfriend to be a virgin.  She stirred a hornets’ nest and had 22 criminal cases slapped against her.  It’s a crime to speak the truth.

That someone somewhere could be me next time! 

Thinking India is bewildered, it wants to spread out its wings and touch the sky only to find its wings clipped.  Is the Then India feeling threatened by Now India

We are walking the tight rope between economic liberalisation and cultural fascism.  Immorality, crime, sex, may now be the underbelly of urban existence, yet our policy makers live in a state of denial. Our I&B ministry has blindfolded itself to the notion of reality and goes into overdrive the moment there is a mere mention of sex and sleaze on Television. They are still under the notion that our billion babies and more were hand delivered by storks.   The history of film censorship has been a tortured tale of snip-snip-cut.  The next gen may be using fuck as comma and full-stop, yet the censor board turns beetroot red and beeps it out. Smoking is injurious on screen, Zindagi cannot be saali, a bare back causes outrage. 

We are not free to decide our rights and wrongs.  The state decides for us.  We may be India shining but our government treats its janta as a bunch of imbeciles. The aam-janta needs to be told what to think, what to say and what to see.  Gandhiji tried to show the way through his three wise monkeys – bura mat dekho, bura mat kaho, bura mat suno.  Many leaders thrust their own antediluvian interpretation of ‘bura’ on us, but exhibit selective amnesia when it comes to their own brazen, corrupt and venal deeds that bleed the very nation that they ‘proudly’ represent.   

Our freedom of speech in under threat – if the ITAA 2008 bill is passed, it will be perilous to be right when the government is wrong.  So what do we do?  Is it enough to express outrage, join an online campaign, vent, express our impotent rage?

Let’s not get intimidated.  Let’s keep working towards an India that will be proud of its citizens - Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high.... Where words come out from the depth of truth..... Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way.... Where the mind is led forward by thee...Into ever-widening thought and action...Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
(Excerpts from Rabindranath Tagore’s Sanchaita)

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  1. Excellent... Inspite of all this Indian chugs along. The cultural invasion bit.... its a bit annoying.. but its in the upper crest as of now.. i guess we have enough antibodies deep within our system to resist this malady..

  2. BRAVO!!!!

    as you rightly suggest it is time for all bloggers to stand up and be counted and to tell the 'law makers' where to get off!!!

    brilliant stuff!!

  3. Gee! Thanks a lot for this great post! How dare the Netas who embezzle crores tell us- the poorest of the poor bloggers to shut up? Is this India or Sand box? Sand box has strict restrictions on bloggers- in fact you have to register online to IT ministry to be a blogger and Govt has the right to block any blog anytime. They are blockers of bloggers! LETS STAND TALL AND SAY NO! NO TO BLOGGING CENSORSHIP! Or do we want India to become Sandbox???

  4. It's really pathetic that the Govt. is afraid of bloggers! They are following the footsteps of their friend lovable China and implicating a the great firewall of china model on us too. If we don't have the right to speak - then whats the meaning of "Democratic - Free India"?

    And if the IT bill is passed, I'm sure that you will be in jail!

    Mayavati will come chasing you!!!
    kyun behen ji ahem Purba ji ??

  5. Brilliantly written.... have given me something to brood over.

  6. I knew you would be enraged enough to vent out ire via a witty yet forceful post...Seems to be a knee jerk reaction of some sycophant babu.

  7. Thanks for picking up the tag Purba. And it goes without saying... brilliantly written.

  8. The ITAA-2008 is not directly attacking bloggers, it's just saying that bloggers are responsible for user's comments on their site.

    I don't think there was a menacing politician sitting in a corner sniggering away as he signed this act. Looks more like a 'one-size-fits-all' shadowy bill that is abstract enough for well-paid lawyers to fight it either way!

    Anyways, right to freedom of expression is a sham. The unwritten rule is that you shouldn't get famous. If you do, shut up!

    Awesomely written!

  9. Cool plan for the weekend Purba. Blogger number 620 ( like Kaidi number 620)!

    Sarkaar is being silly. They need to be reminded of FREEDOM OF SPEECH & EXPRESSION and that we are a democracy. Humble Netas perhaps want to keep a low profile(?). They have enough publicity in the television already and are thus perhaps not interested in becoming famous in the blogosphere.

    oh, I like the pic very much. Goes without saying write up is bravo as always!

  10. Benedict... It is our chalta hai attitude that lets us down. We prefer being armchair revolutionaries.

    magiceye...Everything as of know is so ambiguous. Shudder to think of the consequences if this bill is passed.

    cloud nine...The future sounds scary until we do something to change it.

  11. True Purba, but I would like to say that this will take generations to come and only when we try to think by exercising our brains than agreeing to somebody else.
    I have seen many Indians outside India back out in speaking or discussing about issues we are facing in India. These people are supposed to be "educated"ones. Somebody has rightly said "knowledge and education are not the same". They think its waste of time. I have kind of become a sort of "black sheep" in here just because I speak my mind and I debate a lot. But I still then dont get bothered by these.

    Sorry to disappoint, but we have a loong way to go.

  12. Anto...And you have promised to take care of my PR. Friends, countrymen, this is Purba Ray....oooh what a press conference it will be!

    Prats...It has become something of a hobby for you now.

    Alka...I"ll say lazy. Imagine including bloggers in the category of intermediaries along with ISP's and search engines!

  13. Mayur...I would have written about it anyway. Too strong an issue to ignore.

    Kartikay...Will some Babu please tell me what threatening, abusive, objectionable, defamatory, vulgar, racial exactly means!

    And making us legally liable for our opinions is so unfair. It migh as well buy a duct tape.

    And thanks :)

    Always Happy...Kaidi number 620 indeed :D or was it 420?

  14. Thanks for blogging about this. In no way is this ridiculous bill acceptable. Bloggers need to show a united front and protest against this monumental stupidity.

  15. It was meant to be 420 but you see, i have to be careful now of what i say in the blogworld as soon 'BIG BROTHER WILL BE WATCHING' me! :)

  16. Perhaps Tagore said this more than a hundred years ago, we still not there and actually going backwards...

    I wonder what more than outrage and online campaigns. I guess most do not even realise how this can screw so many of us and our thoughts.

  17. Bhawana....I think this generation is a lot more aware & clued in and is extremely vocal in expressing their displeasure. But agree, we need to do something instead of just debating about it.

    Samadrita....Our freedom is at stake, we all need to come forward and say enough is enough.

    Always happy...Don't let that bother you.

    Siddhartha...Let's not allow them to mess up our minds.

  18. in case in case in case.. this bill gets passed, I would be the first one to start RDB/NOKJ types dharna on India Gate.
    am sure there'll be no dearth of participants, bloggers or not.

    one should not take it lightly because this is just an indication of worse things to come. So, strike at the roots!

    btw a flaring post! Kudos!

  19. Blogosphere an Utopia? Are you kidding?
    I donot support restricting freedom but it would be immature to say the people logged in are ruled by a crowd mentality
    SO things may get really volatile here with someone spreading falsities. Some kinda regulation is good...but again there is gr8 chance for it to be misused

    To be frank we are very hypocritical people who tend to go by half baked stories and Indian bloggers are no exception
    Thus 'blogosphere ' may nt be a safe place after all

  20. Oh this is a way to promote friendly relations with China… If China can do so in the name of internet security threat so can we…! Illogical India


    Shall see you at Tihar

  21. mepretentious...Yes, simply writing blog posts will not suffice.

    Jon...For me it is and I will not let you burst that bubble. I know if I ever give unverified information, spread falsities my readers will tear me down. We are not a bunch of gullible fools here.

    Pals....LOL this is P2P reporting from Tihar!

  22. incidently its the same 'chalta hai' attitude that I am banking on. There are a whole lot of laws and these laws, to many, are a list of jokes.. and we scorn at law, we break them, we resist what ever tries to bind us... We th3 nation have evolved beyond the law..

  23. Lets take heart in the fact that these days there are campus interviews held in Tihar jails :P If one door is closed, another opens right?!

    P.S > And reading about Tihar, quiet a coincidence we published today an interview of a lady who founded an NGO that works for Tihar inmates :)

  24. each time i come here i admire this blog.. you write so nice.

    WEll one thing you said THat someone -somewhere could be you.. WEll helloooo jolt urself out of the sleep guess what .. its not COULD .. it is YOU.. and ME and every other citizen of my bharat mahaan..

    They are already doing it to us .. when will we learn this .. how long will we keep thinking oh it cud be me .. well I think it already is ME..

    they neta log are taking us for a ride and we jsut seem to be waving and clapping at them .. all this is our fault everytime elections come we SOW THESE THORNS for the NEXT FIVE YEARS with a Smile or mybe a bottle of whisky in hand..

    and this will continue till I beleive all this democratic crap is got rid of, even a HARISHCHANDER when gets elected becomes one of them .. Look at manmohan singh we thought he is so good and blah blah , maybe he does not do any wrong but he is PART OF it and knows so he is equally guilty..

    but then these are my thoughts and my friends tell me I always think weird ..


  25. A very strong post by you Purba.

    I never thought the Right to express oneself was expressed in a healthy manner in India. Each time you speak out, you normally think if you're going to get into some kind of trouble.

    I simply think, this too shall pass.

  26. Nicely written. I am already planning a post on how imprisoned politicians and dons are running their business from prison. eagerly awaiting for the bill to pass.

  27. Very effective writing....bang on.

  28. I wonder if the government is trying to test our general knowledge of what happened in the middle east. Because they should know that revolutions are started out of small silly mistakes of the tormentors.
    Well, I won't go to tihar. I am looking for the whereabouts of notorious famous people like the founders of thepiratebay and wiki leaks and obviously Osama, to take cues on making a mark and then disappearing without a trace.

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  29. An excellent post! Very thought provoking and the reason why I don't bother with newspaper but love to read blogs!

  30. Benedict....Ha! a nation that cares a damn about laws! Loved the logic.

    Lakshmi...With well wishers like you who needs enemies :p

    Bikramjeet...You have all the right to be upset. It's better than having an "ostrich mentality" - bury your head in sand and pretend everything's okay.

  31. Pzes...You nailed it...we worry too much! We rather keep quiet than raise our voice. But then there's a breed that cares a damn.

    Harish...That sounds like an interesting subject.

    Sangeeta...Thank you.

  32. Anshul...Osama lives in a cave and Julian rarely bathes! Please look for better role models :p

    Sunil...Blogs do not have a hidden agenda, we are neither part of a lobby nor do we have political affiliations. What you get here is nothing but the truth.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  33. Why do I have this sinking feeling that the said IT Bill will get passed, come what may. After all, who are the most vulnerable lot today? Are you aware how many of our sitting MP's have been charged/convicted with criminal acts, cases and depravities?

    Excellent post, Purba. Carry on cribbing!

  34. "When you go home
    Tell them of us and say
    For your tomorrow
    We gave our today"

    (This poem is the Kohima Epitaph composed by Major John Etty-Leal and is engraved on the War Memorial to commemorate the men of the British 2nd Division who fell in the Battle of Kohima in 1944.)

    well coming back ,for our netas the motto is " we give our today ,squeeze out for our children and family,for their tommorow and rest of the juntas can look after themselves...."

    what more to say.....
    Purba you have said it all.
    good reading through your mindwords..something differant each page.

  35. A very intense blog from you & very true too.. Lets give Netas a run for their money, by we (youth) joining politics.. Here's my post on that topic:

    - Raghu

  36. umashankar....If cribbing could help I would perfect it into a form of art.

    RK...We are becoming selfish. We are willing to sacrifice someone's tomorrow for our today.

    Raghu...That's a wonderful thought.

  37. While you check the living quarters out, find out if there is any possibility of getting adjoining ones. the government is right. We are a bunch of irresponsible kids and need to be kept in line lest we become 'insolent'. Loved the underlying rage and the soft packaging.

  38. The post has left me brooding to the point that i do not know what to comment. It will be a biig blow if such a bill gets passed. Cultural invasion, cultural erosion is happenning at a speed of light. Honor killings, rapes, murder are like a normal thing now. Corruption is like the mother of Indian politions. The language is being taken away and people rarely know their mothertongue.

    Yes you shud actually go to Tihar jail..hehe. It is actuallyan eye opener. I went to Alwar prison for a week continuosly for intervieing the undertrials and the result was an eye opener.

    Btw talking bout the cultural invasion, i wud like u to read my post. Comments wud b luked forward to.
    You have earned a follower!

  39. Some people blog..some people do..some people walk free and sit in parliament after murder...and some end up in tihar jail for uncommitted crimes..
    when you are there in tihar..look for Manu Sharma, A Raja etc..they are all celebrities..and make sure you come back fast, and dont become a permanent resident of the Delhi Hilton

  40. A wonderful post on the topic which is giving bloggers sleepless nights. Bravo!

  41. Zephyr...And since we always have opinions aplenty, both of us might end up at Tihar together! Now you are tempting me.

    Red Handed...Enjoyed reading your post and thanks for following the blog :)

    menon...It is the hypocrisy that infuriates me. One set of rules for us and another set for those who govern. Aren't we all supposed to be treated as equals in a Democracy?

  42. That is one hell of an intense post Purba.

    No wonder the government is trying to sort up things around here :D j|k.

    On a more serious note, there has been mixed reactions from the blogosphere over whether or not there should be Do's and Dont's here too. Maybe you could do a poll here on your blog to see how the response is.

    P.S. Your IT Bill Link is not working.

  43. If this line 'Someone somewhere was dragged out of the bar and beaten up by the watchdogs of morality' refers to the Muthalik story in Mangalore, there is an interesting epilogue to it. In kerala, the very next year after this Mangalore attack, a group of youngsters formed a gang by name 'Srikrishna Sena' to counter Muthalik's 'Sri Rama Sena'. They announced they will stand guard to all love-couples who would be 'passionately loving' eachother in the overgrown bushes of the north kerala beaches.

  44. Abha...Yea soon we"ll be giving tips on gardening and childcare.

    Doc...Personally I am against curtailing of our rights. We have the right to express our opinions and be free to criticize the government. We need reforms...we need action.

    The link is working now, thanks!

    Joshi...LMAO...And what an apt name Sri Krisnha...It's all about loving, sharing and caring....

  45. i have been having major arguements about this with a lot of fellow bloggers on this subject....rite now iam not very popular...

    there was someone saying that this law will make us 'responsible' bloggers...what is that? we will start wearing condoms on our fingers while we type anything about sex?

    I dont understand..

    i do realize that people in power will always fear free speech...and i really dont understand why anyone shud be concerned about this since an uncontrolled medium like the internet will probably be the only place where we can hope to hear people saying the truth without fear...and i feel thats such a beautiful thing...

    maybe we can send them pictures of fingers in condoms of all of us...

    imagine the publicity...hey, this cud be a gud thing after all.

  46. So you are sure you'll end up in Tihar.Most of us would.I would sincerely like to know what they categorize as inflammatory/derogatory?And between Purba don't worry you will have fellow bloggers for company at Tihar.

  47. Hi! I understand where you're coming from. i used to think like that before I left india. After spending a couple of years abroad, I fell amidst the chaos there are some things very right about India and one of them is the freedom it offer.s True you may be crticized and even lynched for speaking the truth, but atleast you can speak the truth. i know very many highly developed first world western countries where people are just not allowed to speak their minds or their opinions just dont matter..India is imperfect, but it is a true democracy in that sense

  48. tys...Exactly you cannot tell us what to think and how to feel. Ours is the voice of reason, let us express what we feel.

    Love the finger in a condom idea.

    Blue Lotus...My point exactly...define in clear words what
    inflammatory/derogatory actually means.

    confusedyuppie...It's only when we are allowed to participate, our opinions taken into account, will our nation truly evolve.

    Perhaps you are right...Look how they are out to finish Assange.

  49. Brilliant post!!! Loved the way you ended it... I agree, bloggers should not be intimidated and we should all write against it and if there are any other protests, we should join those too.

  50. Well-written, Purba ... Long live our freedom!

  51. I like the word "impotent rage" - it's so perfect. What else can we other than gruntle ...

    This is the kind of material NOT ALLOWABLE by any one on the net:

    harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, blasphemous, objectionable, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libellous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever; (g) causes annoyance or inconvenience or deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of such messages or communicates any information which is grossly offensive or menacing in nature;



  53. kudos to u for writing such an intense post.
    i hope people take some lessons from it...someone has rightly said 'all good things are wild and FREE' dare they think they can snatch our freedom to express?
    I m doubting is implementation but what frets me is the silent yet static fear in the minds of some. who will subconsciously be curbing their voices from now on!


  54. Your anger in the article is palpable and infectious. Government has made a mess of whatever it has taken upon itself and it now wants to regulate the Internet which hitherto has been the last bastion of 'free speech'. I'm hopeful that this will remain a pipe dream for them.

  55. IHM...I am surprised many think we will benefit from such a regulation. True, some bloggers have strong opinions which may not always be correct but it's up to us to decide.

    A gag is the last thing we need, blogosphere will never be the same again.


    Flawsophy...Haha....our virtuous Netas :D
    The brazen, the corrupt will give us lessons on mortality.

  56. subtlescribbler...We should not get intimidated - that's what they want don't they.

    Sanjay...I liked how you put it - Internet the last bastion of free speech.

    It's the government that needs reforms. Clean up your own mess before you preach what's right or wrong!

  57. Hmmm... Maybe I should go and check out the Arthur Road Jail here in Mumbai.

    So typical of the knee jerk reaction of authorities, who feel threatened.

  58. When they are unable to control the media, now they are trying to corner bloggers. But, I am sure they can not bring back 'Emergency' days again.

  59. Tagore;s poem sums up everything. We should hold our head high and enjoy our freedom!

  60. I have had these thoughts for a very long time now. The bill, if passed, would be an outrageous way of shoving their power down our throats. The government and people who are known as the 'beloved' moral police have a lot to learn about right and wrong. Since when has becoming a modern society become illegal. What they don't and can never understand is that the cultural changes that are happening in and around the country is because the country is developing. To stop one would be to stop the other. They go hand in hand.
    As for the censor board, I have not seen a bigger bunch of hypocrites.
    Awesome post, Purba di. Someone had to write this.

  61. Being a teenage girl for a long time in this era, I have faced a billion accusations piled up by the very people who I would call hypocrites; and this country, caught between the web of confused traditions and staunch ideas of modernization only make us doubt our mere existence.

    Excellent write-up. Kudos.

  62. Purba, i believe we should raise this topic and object to the core. Freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under constitution, restrictions on bloggers is draconian, when advertising is manned by Advertising council, Lawyers are monitored by Bar council, Medical practioners are monitored by their council, similarly Blogging has to be monitored by council of impeccable integrity like NRN, Deepak Parikh etc. Please join Nixxon @ Twitter and Facebook to join the protest being speared headed by blogadda

  63. 101/100, this is one that stands alone article. very very well written.
    extraordinary talent emerges here.

  64. Sudha...I think it's sheer laziness on part of our policy makers. The one size fits all bill that clubs bloggers with telecom networks, internet service providers, search engines, cyber cafes etc....

    SR... They wouldn't dare to! That one mistake haunted Mrs G for life.

    sanjeev... We are as free as we feel.

  65. D2..A new thinking India is emerging, you cannot stifle it. Let us be part of that change, let us feel proud of our nation.

    Enchanta...The conflict between Now India and Then India.

    Deguide...It is our fundamental right - you cannot snatch it away from us. Will definitely join.

    Pramod...We need to be firm in our conviction that we shall not be intimidated.

  66. Agreed! And you know what is really funny? While the censor board bleeps out 4 letter words, it happily allows lyrics in movie songs that are practically language porn! These become tools in the hands of sexual harassers on the street who are affectionately referred to by our society as "Eve Teasers"! It's this double standards that totally befuddles me.


Psst... let me know what you are thinking.


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