Pavan Varma | Freedom, conspiracy and other anti-national sins

Deccan Chronicle.  | Pavan K Varma

Opinion, Columnists

Frankly, in my view, Freedom House, the Washington based global democracy watchdog, should be booked by our ever-vigilant govt for sedition

To call the world’s largest democracy only “partly free” is incontrovertible evidence of an attempt to subvert our sovereignty and integrity, an international conspiracy directed against the Indian state. (Photo: AFP)

Frankly, in my view, Freedom House, the Washington based global democracy watchdog, should be booked by our ever-vigilant government for sedition. The organisation has had the audacity to demote India from “free” to “partly free” in the rankings of its latest annual report. The government has rightly called the report “misleading, incorrect and misplaced”. To call the world’s largest democracy only “partly free” is incontrovertible evidence of an attempt to subvert our sovereignty and integrity, an international conspiracy directed against the Indian state. I think our law enforcing authorities should immediately file an FIR against the organisation and those who run it, and officially protest to President Joe Biden.

 Anurag Kashyap and Tapsee Pannu should also reject this report forthrightly. If the income tax department has raided them, and unearthed hundreds of crores of discrepancies, it is only doing its job. Obviously, the raids have nothing to do with their being vocal critics of the government. Our tax sleuths are mandated to uncover such wrongs, and the investigation was a routine exercise in fulfilling it. It just so happens that there are no “discrepancies” to be found in those in Bollywood who happily sing praises of the government. Why can’t Kashyap and Pannu just be like them?

The report should also be trashed by the hundreds of activists who protested against the CAA-NRC combine. If they are facing the might of the police, and many are still languishing in jail, it is because their intent was not to invoke the right to dissent but to act as part of a planned conspiracy against the State. Journalists, who have had draconian laws slapped against them for reporting facts on the ground in UP and elsewhere, should also reject the report. Journalistic ethics demand “objective” reporting. No one should presume that they have the right to unnecessarily be critical of the government, because how can a government which has been duly elected not know what is in the best interests of the people?

Farmers protesting against the new farm bills must also junk the report. If some in the ruling dispensation called them Khalistanis, anti-nationals, stooges of Pakistan, and puppets in the hands of political parties determined to malign the government, there must be valid reasons to do so. Farmers cannot sit in peaceful protest for months on the borders of the capital of the nation, with many dying in the bitter Delhi winter, unless they are part of a “foreign hand” hatching a plot against the government. Now, the government has hard proof of such a plot. Climate activist, Disha Ravi, all of some 21 years old, was rightly arrested for sedition for supporting the farmers, because her toolkit could well undermine the great Indian State. It appears Rihanna and Greta Thunberg are also part of this dangerous conspiracy. The ramifications of what is going on are huge, and require the authorities to take prompt and penal action.   

Stand-up comics, dalit activists, human rights advocates — even Election Commissioners who dare to right dissenting notes — must join hands to condemn this seditious report. They must accept that they have no right to question the government in a manner that diminishes its self-esteem, or that of its leaders. The tremendous work the government is doing for the people needs to be acknowledged. It is indecent to subject it to irreverent questioning. Right to Information activists, worried about the reducing ambit of the Act, must not worry. If the government wishes not to reveal certain things, which otherwise it must do, there must be very good reason for it. The security of the State is a very important matter. So is the image of our great nation.

 Truly patriotic citizens should take umbrage at this attempt to call India only “partly free”. We are a nation of completely free agencies. The CBI acts freely; so does the I-T department; so does the NCB; so does the CBDT; so does the NIA; and so does the media. Nobody tells them what to do, and who to target. They may have been a “caged parrot” in the past. Not anymore.

 All free citizens must be patriotic in ways approved by the government. For instance, any questioning of defence policy is tantamount to treason, and an insult to our brave soldiers. Those who are critical of the government become ipso facto critics of the nation, and those who are critical of the nation, are naturally anti-national. A democratic government must act strongly against such traitors.

Our former rulers, the British, had the following lines — still visible — engraved in stone at the North Block of the Central Secretariat in New Delhi: “Liberty will not descend to a people, a people must raise themselves to Liberty. It is a blessing which must be earned before it is enjoyed.” How relevant these lines are today. How can India be accused of being only “partly free” when the real problem is that the people — and especially the Opposition — have not yet raised themselves to enjoy liberty? They must earn their liberty, behave “properly”, watch what they write and speak, not protest about any and everything, learn to be patriotic citizens, and then the benevolent government can allow them the freedoms that it deems appropriate for them.

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