Freedom of Speech v/s National Security

Right to freely express is a gift of the Indian Constitution to its citizens but we have been vandalising it with impunity.

Published: 20th September 2020 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2020 03:46 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes (Express Illustrations)

Right to freely express is a gift of the Indian Constitution to its citizens but we have been vandalising it with impunity. Some of us use it to mobilise support to break India into pieces, trash reputations and vilify the prime minister, governors and justices. During elections, it becomes obscene, with no-holds-barred attacks against opponents. And, when Assemblies and Parliament are in sessions, lawmakers exploit it to sabotage any meaningful discussions. But don’t be surprised.

Forty-six percent of sitting MPs and MLAs face 2,556 criminal cases. You cannot expect them to choose their words with civility.  The filth and venom in exercising freedom of speech in our daily lives is understandable. We live in a deeply divisive democracy where views are bound to be nasty. But when they adversely impact national security, one starts worrying. 

During the current stand-off between Indian and Chinese forces along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, ill-informed politicians, irresponsible journalists, self-serving strategists and retired Army officers have been quick to demand live account of the fluid and highly explosive ground situation. They hold Delhi guilty of inadequate preparedness, shortage of armaments, poor intelligence and bad operational planning, causing loss of territory and precious lives.

They can pat their back but have unwittingly added grist to the Chinese propaganda mill—that Indian forces are weak and ill-equipped and India is bitterly divided on starting a war against ‘mighty’ China at the behest of a ‘war-mongering leadership’, thereby helping Beijing to dig in its heels. 

Fortunately, we have a government that has no ear for free advice based on suspect intent and outdated experience, and is focused entirely on defending the nation. One needs to realise that there is a time for demanding an inquiry and hammering the government on war-related issues. That time will surely come once the current crisis is over.

Even after the unprecedented surgical strikes in Balakot, maverick politicians and mischievous columnists had demanded proof. It had not only helped Pakistan cover up its shame but also forced Delhi to release satellite imageries of the damages inflicted by our forces. Nowhere in the world, army operations are questioned and ridiculed while they are still being carried on. 

The media’s reporting of our submarines, aircraft, missiles, armaments, surveillance systems, airfields and infrastructure is also deplorable. People have actually no interest in knowing about the status of our defence assets, operational details and deployment of forces. They are happy so long as borders are secure. Media needs to seriously reflect whether their information benefits anyone and whether there are any takers of views of its hired panellists and columnists in the government and the forces.    


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