The necessity for freedom of expression has evolved over time. With avenues of expressing our views and opinions having amplified multifold via digital media such as social networking sites, mobile phones, and Youtube, there is practically no end to freedom as we know it.
With freedom of expression comes immense responsibility, said Shashi Tharoor MP. He personally opposed censorship, but felt there needed to be caution exercised.
He spoke of the anonymity that goes hand in hand with expression online, which although it can be both beneficial, can also be detrimental to society if abused.
He cited the attitude towards north-eastern Indians as a case of how some people can distort information and incite ill-feeling and violence. He was inaugurating the lecture series at the Centre for Public Policy Research at the YMCA International Hall on Wednesday.
Tharoor was accompanied by his mother Lily Tharoor, whom he welcomed with a bouquet as he began his lecture. An ardent tweeter, Tharoor said the social media can be used as a tool for the betterment of society. He cited a case where he tweeted about a girl whose legs had to be amputated when she was pushed off a moving train, for which he received offers from his twitter followers abroad to help out the girl.
He firmly reiterated that while caution should be exercised, it should also not be over exercised. People should not create a false sense of sensitivity for political or personal gain. He cited the current political turmoil with regard to cartoonists.
He spoke of his personal journey with the use of the internet and social media, particularly in the Indian political context.
He made jokes at his own faux pas and of his political opponents and party members, and was met with roaring laughter from the audience. He envisioned all political parties and a greater portion of the public today using social media as a medium of expression in the next 10 years and encouraged the entire audience, particularly the youth, to reach out and make a difference through this means too.
D Dhanu Raj, chairman of CPPR, and K C Abraham, retired professor of Sacred Heart College spoke.