Sunday, March 8, 2015

My India

India is a country in transition and the society is hopelessly divided into modern, semi-modern, traditional and outright primitive. What is right for the traditional part of the society looks outdated and often embarrassing for the modern part. As modern India grows and starts occupying a bigger segment of the social space there is bound to be friction with the past. The media is seen as progressive and liberal in its outlook and therefore sides with the modern society. Most of the struggle between the different segments of the society is fought in the media spaces. Television news channels provide a glimpse into the many debates and discussions this relatively new democracy undergoes on a daily basis.
The more or less universal condemnation of the censorship moves by the government in the Wendy Doniger book issue, the CBFC chairman appointment and the Nirbhaya documentary case puts media among the progressive forces in the country that are trying to stem the slide into a closed society. China is an example of the effect censorship by State has on the society as a whole. Only the officially approved creative works see the light of day- it can be constricting and controlling the creative outputs. We in India have had a relatively free run since independence. But in recent years the sword of official censorship is increasingly being wielded to support a single idea of India. Gone are the days of celebrating the plurality and the vibrancy that goes with it. Now we are constantly reminded of the need to adjust to the official line, especially on culture.
Where are we headed? Whose idea of India should we accept and follow? What about fundamental rights of the citizens of India and individual freedom? Will they just be confined to history and the constitution of India? Scary thoughts about the future.

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