Indian politics of bans

India is an independent democratic country; still the freedom of speech and expression is highly restricted. When it comes to the banning of multifarious things like films, exhibitions, books and plays, India seems to be the harbinger of the democratic world. So many artworks, which just could not be published or shown because some or the other group of people had some problem with it. The kind and the level of restrictions that are put on the freedom of speech and expression in independent India are highly disappointing.


Freedom of speech in India has never been an unconditional right, there has always been some or the other restriction imposed on the expression. India nurtures politics of bans and to understand India, it is imperative to understand the geography of various bans in India. Politics in India only prepares the framework in which the bans operate but does not justify the reason for the implication of a particular ban. Usually, political organizations and governments defend their decision by saying that the text or some sections in a book are highly offensive for some communities or regional groups and it can lead to communal hatred and violence.

Some instances reveal that the books were banned because they misrepresented India and Indian policies. Whether it is the nation or some communal group behind the ban, the bottom-line is that these bans have trampled individual liberty. The frequency at which bans are imposed in India, it seems India is absolutely out of step with the rest of the liberal world. Moreover, India has failed to guard individual liberty of its citizens in terms of freedom of speech and expression.


India needs to have a sustained debate on this subject and the only way to protect the freedom of speech and expression is to cultivate a judgment. By this, we mean that people need to learn the difference between critique and insult, so that they do not get offended. Similarly, one need to learn that you cannot expect everybody to accept your viewpoints, and you also cannot accept everything what others believe. Therefore, even if some writer represents his belief about a community or a religion in his book, there is no need to feel exasperated about. This mentality could change the nature of the mob and eventually the bans will be uplifted and no more bans will be put again.

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