Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Essay on Indians Have Spiritual Liberty but no social Liberty

Essay on Indians Have Spiritual Liberty but no social Liberty

Liberty in terms of spiritual liberation from the cycle of birth and death was a key idea in Indian thought. Individual liberty in social or political society was foreign to classical Indian mindset. The idea of liberty came to the fore of Indian thinking with the encounter with the modern West. It was first epitomized by the intellectual contributions of Mahatma Gandhi for political liberty. Gandhi's idea of liberty was framed in the idea of 'swaraj', a multifaceted concept of the utmost importance in his thought. Swaraj, literally meaning "self-rule," was also used to signify national independence and the political, economic and spiritual freedom of the individual.

Liberty, another word for freedom is an essential concomitant for development and growth. Nonetheless, just to get liberty is not enough, in how we use it lies at the essence of achievement by liberty. Liberty wipes out inequality from the roots of the society. However, even after 70 years of Independence, Indians don't really feel truly liberated. They are living in a world where they are forced to stand for National Anthem at a movie theatre, they are told what they can or cannot eat what they can and cannot see, and what they can or cannot speak. Dissent, especially in the university space, is being curbed and sloganeering and flag rising have become tests for nationalism.

On the contrary, religion has long been considered the central motif of Indian life. India, a multi religious, multilingual and multi-racial nation, has dependably delighted in the vital solidarity of society in the midst of diversities that kept her kin joined together. It is a boundless nation where individuals of various spiritual mindset and groups live one next to the other.

The Article 26 of Indian Constitution gives freedom to manage religious affairs subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any other section thereof has the right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes and manages its own affairs in matters of religion. However, this provision is only valid for Indian citizens. India is a place that is known for religious or spiritual diversities. All the significant religions of the world, viz.: Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism are found in India.

India enjoys an image of ancient civilization with spiritual values. There is no country in the world like India when it comes to cultural and spiritual diversity. Every state has something unique to offer to tourists. From Himalayas in the north to the coasts in the south, from billion dollar buildings to poverty stricken slums, India makes a perfect destination for those who seek exposure to world's biggest and successful democracy. But India and Indians are often ridiculed and embarrassed by other nations for its filth and religious hypocrisy. Nowadays, India is too sensitive a country to discuss religion. The word itself brings various emotions like hate, sexism, superstition, irrationality, etc. in everybody's mind.

Yet, India has mostly had a religious culture, where ephemeral material pleasures such as sex and wine which are detrimental to our quest for lasting peace, have not had a place of respect that they occupy in materialistic societies. Albeit religion, in India, has achieved what common people have failed to, like employment and humanism. Right from the Kanwariya yatra, to sound of prayers over loudspeakers and religious processions every now and then, religion is becoming more of a nuisance in everyday life; yet raising a voice against this becomes a matter of pride and hurts the sentiments of millions. Indians willingly turn blind to such predicaments as it will be considered ungodly act. But, when it comes to social matters, Indians have the habit of poking their nose into other's business.

Social liberty and equality are complementary to each other so that both should maintain their vitality. The Constitution commands justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as supreme values to usher in the egalitarian social, economic and political democracy. Social liberty, equality and dignity of person are corner stone of social democracy. The concept of social liberty which the democracy of India engrafted consists of diverse principles essential for the orderly growth and development of personality of every citizen.

The beauty of living in a democracy is the freedom which comes with it. People should understand that everyone is different, especially when it comes to the social or moral aspect and nobody should be judged for that. However, moral policing is becoming a very predominant phenomenon in India, For example, Valentine's Day always creates a fuss in India. Certain political party workers threaten and beat up girls and boys ahead of this so called "Western Culture Day"; they raid shops and burn cards or even threaten to marry off couples seen together on Valentine's Day.

In another incident, few girls from Mangalore were suspended from their college because a picture of them with wine and beer bottles went viral on a social app. Furthermore, the Indian government ordered a ban against 857 porn websites in August 2015. It was seen as a downright act of moral policing all over the world. In March 2015, local authorities in the Malda district of West Bengal cancelled a women's football match because the local people of a religious community objected to women playing sports. All these and many such incidents stand witness to India's loss of social liberty.

India once had a proud heritage of free speech and open discourse. Unfortunately, during British rule much of this was lost and India has still not recovered. India is in the throes of what author Salman Rushdie rightly said a "cultural emergency." Writers and artists of all kinds are being harassed, sued and arrested for what they say or write or create. The government either stands does nothing to protect freedom of speech, or it actively abets its suppression.

Furthermore, recently the government has cast a watchful eye on the Internet, demanding that companies like Google and Facebook prescreen content and remove items that might be deemed a disparaging" or "inflammatory," according to technology industry executives there. In India today, it seems, social liberty is itself an atrocity. A film, for example, might pass the Censor Board, but then be summarily banned by a state government. That's what happened with many films such as "Vishwaroopam," a Tamil spy thriller released worldwide -- but not in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu; “Aligarh", the story of a gay professor teaching in the Aligarh Muslim University faced protests from both the Muslim community as well as the University; "Udta Punjab”, highlighted the drug nuisance in the state of Punjab, saw huge outcry from natives of the state. This limited social liberty is not just confined to movies but to other domains of expressions as well, such as art, literature, music or social networking. World renowned artists and authors such as Salman Rushdie, MF Hussain, Wendy Dongier and James Laine faced ban on their work in India.


India cannot hope to be a true democratic and free society until it firmly protects the right to social expression. Without an unqualified constitutional amendment that guarantees this freedom, the country cannot fairly claim to be the "world's largest democracy." Indians must understand that free speech - the right to think and exchange ideas freely - is at the core of the democracy they cherish. If the former is weak, the latter cannot help but be as well.

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