Thursday, April 15, 2021
Home Opinions Why the greatest icons of free speech rights in India have always been Hindutvavadis...

Why the greatest icons of free speech rights in India have always been Hindutvavadis and not ‘liberals’

Liberals truly believe that 'Hindu majoritarianism' is a bigger threat to liberalism in India than Islamic extremism. Therefore, in order to oppose Hindu centric politics, liberals made a deal with the devil.

AAP MLA Amantullah Khan called for the beheading of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati on Twitter due to alleged critical remarks the latter made against prophet Muhammad. At the time of writing this, the tweet had still not been deleted despite the platform’s pompous boasts of stern action against incitement to violence.

At the same time, there’s a conspicuous silence among journalists in the mainstream media regarding the violent threat that was issued. Whether we agree with Yati’s comments or not is irrelevant, incitement to violence is not acceptable under any circumstances. When it is an elected representative engaging in the same, it is even more troubling.

The episode, once again, brings to the fore the troubling aspects of Indian liberalism. Liberalism in India, unlike in the West, has been the strongest advocate for censorship, not free expression. Liberal icon Jawaharlal Nehru was the one who was responsible for enacting a law that all but ended free speech rights in India.

Thus, India is in a unique situation where free speech icons traditionally have been non-liberals. Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati may not endorse absolute free speech rights himself but the concerted incitement of violence against him for exercising his free speech rights has, nonetheless, turned him into an icon for the same.

Something similar had happened with Kamlesh Tiwari as well. Tragically, he had to pay with his life for his comments critical of Prophet Muhammad. On that occasion as well, liberals were hesitant to condemn the murder unequivocally and instead chose to downplay the threat of violent Islamic extremism.

Even when Kamlesh Tiwari was alive, he was jailed for the same comments. And he was imprisoned by a party that has complete support from liberals.

All of this just reveals that advocates for free speech rights are a microscopic minority in the political spectrum of India. There is an unspoken agreement across the political spectrum that absolute free speech rights is not conducive to the cultural realities of the country.

Liberals in India swear to have a commitment towards free speech rights but their conduct leaves little room for doubt that by free speech rights, they mean only the freedom to denigrate and insult Hindu Gods and Goddesses while censoring criticism of minority religions.

Hindutvavadis, on the other hand, have only now begun to have a say in the corridors of power but they recognise that absolute free speech has no major support in the country. But even so, they never advocate violence against people for speech alone.

In India, we have constitutional safeguards and limits to freedom of expression and it is these tools that Hindutvavadis use to combat speech they do not agree with. Liberals demonise Hindus for utilising the constitutional tools made available to them by liberals themselves while they justify the use of mob violence and terrorism by Islamic extremists to oppose speech they do not like. It is quite the spectacle indeed.

Thus, it has always been the case that icons of free speech in India have traditionally come from the Hindu spectrum of politics. Even prior to the advent of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in national politics, it was the likes of Arun Shourie and Sita Ram Goel who led the fight for free speech rights.

Sita Ram Goel had trouble finding publishers for his book where he documented extensively the threats of Islamic extremist and the atrocities committed against Hindu Samaj. ‘The Calcutta Quran Petition’ remains one of the greatest contribution towards free speech in India. Until his last day, he remained strong in his commitment towards his ideals and yet, never did he receive an ounce of support from liberals in the matter.

Arun Shourie, too, was sidelined and demonised for his commitment towards the same. He wrote blistering critiques of liberal heroes and remained at the forefront of Hindutva discourse. But it was only after he jumped ship politically did he receive recognition for his contribution to public discourse.

It is truly a testament of the nature of Indian liberalism that there has truly never been an occasion where they have unequivocally supported free speech for anyone. When the Charlie Hebdo massacre happened, when the world united to condemn the violence against cartoonists, Indian liberals were at the forefront of victim blaming because the cartoons mocked the prophet of Islam.

Again, more recently, when Samuel Paty was beheaded in France, Indian liberals only paid lip service to prevalent sentiments but were extremely quick to return to the familiar trope of Muslim victimhood.

It is undeniable that Hindutvavadis may use caustic words to oppose speech they do not like, and use constitutional tools for the same purpose, but there has never been an instance where they have advocated the use of violence to achieve their end.

It is for this reason that those who have become the symbol for free speech rights in India have never been from the liberal end of the political spectrum. There is shrewd political reasoning behind the same as well.

Liberals truly believe that ‘Hindu majoritarianism’ is a bigger threat to liberalism in India than Islamic extremism. Rahul Gandhi captured it perfectly when he said that ‘Hindu extremists’ are a bigger threat than Jihadists. Therefore, in order to oppose Hindu centric politics, liberals made a deal with the devil.

Thus, we have a situation where liberals remain silent on Islamist atrocities on free speech while being careful not to offend Islamic sensibilities. At the same time, they use every opportunity they can to insult Hindu sentiments.

When the plank was abandoned by liberals wholesale, it was only natural that it would fall upon the Hindutva faction to carry it afloat. And thus, after all these years, we have Kamlesh Tiwari and Yati Narsinghanand who have becomes symbols of free speech rights in the country.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

Related Articles

Trending now

Chhattisgarh: Families of deceased COVID-19 patients will now have to pay Rs. 2,500 for “storage” and “carriage” of the bodies

After fixing rates for treating moderate, severe, very serious COVID-19 patients, Chhattisgarh introduces dead body handling charges

CNN hoped for higher Covid-19 death toll, hyped pandemic deaths to improve ratings, technical director admits in Project Veritas leak

CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester went on five Tinder dates with a Project Veritas agent where he made the revelations.

Pakistan on the verge of civil war as it bans TLP for violent protests over the arrest of its leader and Muhammad cartoons in...

Pakistan Government has taken the decision to ban Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) for their violent protests in the country

Hindu leader in Panipat explains why he thought it is necessary to come out in streets in support of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati

A Muslim mob came face to face with Hindu organisations who carried out a sit-in vigil in support of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati

Amdavad Municipal Corporation introduces ‘drive through’ RTPCR testing as COVID-19 cases surge in the state

First ever drive-through RTPCR testing centre opened in Ahmedabad, Gujarat as the state battles Chinese coronavirus

UP govt ramps up measures to fight the resurgent COVID-19 outbreak, airlifts 25,000 doses of Remdesivir using govt plane from Gujarat

The Uttar Pradesh government is working on a war-footing to blunt the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak

Recently Popular

Mayor Sadiq Khan vows to bring the Indian Premier League to London to boost his reelection chances: Details

London mayor Sadiq Khan promises to bring the Indian Premier League to the British capital as part of his reelection campaign.

CNN staffer reveals to Project Veritas spy how they ran pro-Biden propaganda to get Donald Trump out of office

CNN Technical Director Charlie Chester went on five Tinder dates with the Project Veritas spy where he ended up making the damning revelations.

Missionaries converted over 1 lakh people amidst the pandemic, claims to have planted more churches than all the 25 years of their work in...

Missionaries claim they used the distress faced by poor people during the lockdown to convert them to Christianity and build more churches

COVID-19 outbreak: Maharashtra to get 100 MT oxygen from Ambani owned Reliance’s Jamnagar plant

Urban development minister Eknath Shinde said that Maharashtra will receive 100 MT of oxygen supply from Reliance's Jamnagar plant

What happened in Chhabra after Hindu man was stabbed by Muslim men: Call for peace, attack on a Hindu the next day and more

On April 12, the administration extended curfew for one more day at Chhabra, Baran district in Rajasthan after the communal riot

OpIndia Exclusive: Tata Communications suffers data leak, hackers claim to have sold access to company’s servers, over 50GB data still up for sale

As per two posts by hackers on a hackers' forum, they have gained access to Tata Communications servers and sold them.
- Advertisement -


Connect with us