Section 124A on Indian Penal Code on Sedition was introduced by the British colonial government in 1870 when it felt the need for a specific section to deal with the offence. It was one of the many draconian laws enacted to stifle any voices of dissent at that time. Mahatma Gandhi was prescient in recognising the fundamental threat it provided to democracy when he called it the ‘prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.’
Few days ago one of the Raiot collective members received a Whatsapp message in Hindi. However, since some of the receivers of this message could not read hindi, the thrust of the threat was not instantly delivered, so it turned into a bit of a failure. But then yesterday, it came to our attention that a few other people- journalists, activists, as well as students – received the same whatsapp-forwarded death-threat; each coming from different numbers originating from different states in the country.
Let us be clear. Much as many of us might enjoy or not like listening to Kanhaiya speak, this is not just about Kanhaiya. Defending his right to speak at DUTA’s ‘khaali thali’ dharna is about upholding the true meaning of teaching and universities, the value of free expression and solidarity, and above all, of democracy, liberty and the Indian Constitution. A respect for these values, for universal inalienable rights, can indeed become the basis for a durable unity among people who otherwise hold widely divergent political views and understandings. This is the need of the hour for popular movements, including the teachers’ movement, in the country. It is a crying need for the teachers’ movement at DU today.
We see dialogue, debate and raising questions as crucial to resolution of Kashmir. If you do really care for ideals and freedoms like ‘right to free expression’ and right to dissent’ than we invite you to join us in asking for the same freedoms in Kashmir.
The decision of the Bombay High Court decision refusing bail to Professor GN Saibaba and issuing a contempt notice to Arundhati Roy requires a critical appraisal
One has to wonder what kept these literary “stars” from this praiseworthy gesture of returning their state-given awards when the Gujarat pogrom was going on in 2002, or against the pogroms that followed the demolition of Babri masjid in 1992/3, or against the genocide of Sikhs around 1984, or heck, against the ongoing genocide in Kashmir or that of Dalits
The Travails of Political Action in Ashoka Univesity
In universities such as Ashoks, what would the culture of dissent and politics look like? How much can a capitalist funded university that wants to impart high quality liberal arts education succeed in ensuring critical education? Would such universities ever open up its gates for students from all sections of the society in a country wherein less than 10% have access to higher education? Would it allow for complete academic and intellectual freedom?