June 10, 2011

Freedom and Responsibility - in an Indian context

As students of Civics class in school, we are taught about what democracy means and the true meaning of freedom as envisaged by those who participated in the freedom struggle. I found Civics extremely boring and dry but there is one line that stays in my memory, "..with freedom comes responsibility.."; there is no 'one' without the 'other'.

These past few weeks, this line has been ringing in my ears as I watch news on TV. But since yesterday, this line apparently is considered 'right wing' and if I were to state it in public, I am almost likely to be arrested for being 'not secular' and for curbing the freedom of expression!!!! I am naturally shocked. So, I write this post and request readers to kindly enlighten me. I also have a couple of lines from Gandhi (I think he is still called the 'father of the nation' and I will not have the secularists baying for my blood if I call him so:-)) that I would like to share:

Gandhi explained his idea of Swaraj carefully: "The root meaning of Swaraj is self-role. Swaraj may, therefore, be rendered as discipline role from within... 'Independence' has no such limitation. Independence may mean license to do as you like. Swaraj is positive. Independence is negative... The word Swaraj is a sacred word, a Vedic word, meaning self-role and self-restraint., and not freedom from all restraint which 'independence' often means." (CWMG 45:263-64) He made this comment in 1931, having emphasized this interpretation of freedom since 1909 from the publication of Hind Swaraj. His purpose was consistently to teach this hard political lesson, that freedom demands responsibility, that rights are earned through civic service and the attainment of difficult social reforms.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect."

These are the definitions that I learnt as a kid and believed them to be true. But the distinguished panelists and artists on TV news channels yesterday, feel otherwise. Each one went on and on about how M. F. Husain had a right to 'freedom of expression', as an artist, and the intolerant goons in India drove him out of the country. He may have been the greatest artist from India, but nobody has any right to hurt any section of society, irrespective of the religion he hails from. If it was unintentional, he could have apologised and got on with life... But he chose to be obstinate and later regretted not being able to live in India. I think his life is a perfect case of enjoying the consequences of one's own action.

And needless to say, I am not an artist, or an intellectual. I am an ordinary citizen of India

1 comment:

Meena said...

I do not understand their sympathy at all.

Most of his sympathizers and friends would certainly go abroad to treat their minor health afflictions , as if India is known for its medical tourism for nothing.

All of us know how the rich and the famous flock abroad for treatments. Surely , Husain would have been flown to far away lands too.So even if he lived in India ,the end could have still been elsewhere.