Friday, February 5, 2010

India is a Democracy… Really?

I am sure all us Indians have heard that our nation is a democratic nation, and freedom of speech is one of our fundamental rights. But in the wake of the recent controversy wherein Shahrukh Khan voicing his opinion on the non-selection of Pakistan players for the forthcoming season of IPL, did not go down well with the Shiv Sena, the essential question arises: Are we really a democratic nation in a true sense?

Shahrukh Khan criticised the recent exclusion of Pakistani cricket players from the IPL tournament, and said he wished Pakistani players were playing in the forthcoming edition of the cash-rich tournament. He probably made the statement merely keeping in mind the game and its requirements, and not in an attempt to malice his nation in any way.

Threatening his with consequences, Shiv Sena spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, said, “If he has courage, let him take the players… Shahrukh Khan talks about Pakistani players, if he has courage let him take them, let them play, we will see what is to be done then.”

[More at : Shiv Sena threatens Shahrukh Khan for “supporting” Pakistan players]

But obviously, freedom of speech and opinion is something that the Shiv Sena has probably never heard about. That would explain their ruffian like behaviour in a supposedly democratic country like India which apparently has a government in place which is too much of a wimp to stand up to such blatant violation of basic fundamental rights that our constitution entitles each and very citizen of this nation to.

Why cannot SRK have an opinion and voice it? Why is he asked to apologize for merely exercising his right to freedom of speech? Why is he told that he is in Mumbai and not Pakistan and thus every word uttered by him should be pro India (or rather Maharashtra) and anti-Pakistan. I do not intend to defend Pakistan here in any way. By all means that nation is probably going to the dogs. However, SRK’s statement was with regard to a universal game of cricket and not apolitical.

Banning his upcoming movie ‘My Name is Khan’, burning posters, organizing rallies against him, can only be classified as ridiculous and juvenile behaviour, in my opinion. As far as I am concerned, this is not only about SRK. SRK, in this case, happens to represent every citizen of this country out there, who is now scared to speak his mind for fear of irregular behaviour he/she might face as a consequence from the Sena. SRK should not apologize merely for speaking his mind, voicing his opinion. As long as there is nothing anti-India in his words, I believe he has no reason to apologize.

According to me, his opinion does not reflect his apathy for the victims of 26/11 as is being said but merely sympathy for the good players in the Pakistani cricket team who have been excluded from the tournament.

However, what needs to be seriously pondered over are the questions: How democratic are we? Does the sacred document of this nation, our Constitution, hold no more value? How free can our speech be?

Do we need to seek permission for freedom of speech now? Is our country regressing instead of progressing?

Think, reflect and worry. We need to!

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