Sunday, March 8, 2015

Revoke the Ban

If Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his party have any common sense left, they'd revoke the ban on the documentary India's Daughter, which has already been seen by millions of people in India itself and can be found over a variety of illegal video streams. The floodgates have been opened - the longer you ban this film, the better you will erase the message on the back of which your party won its Lok Sabha majority. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than any other politician, knew very well that the India that voted in 2014 was a very different country, a country that was connected more than ever before, where information flowed freely. Where once generations thought it was their fate to grow up and die in poverty, today's generation believes things can change and anyone who stands in their way will be tossed aside.

And the BJP Government is in danger of being tossed aside by the same generation that elected it. First of all, bans on media are counterproductive. Unlike beef, it is virtually impossible to control information today - that is the age that we live in. Instead, the ban just created more curiosity and increases viewership. The danger is that the government is slipping into the quick-and-fake fix solution of banning things, virtually re-creating the censorship culture of Nehru and Indira. Far from being a government that understands young people and the new generation, it is looking like a rotten old government of old people who refuse to entertain the desires of the young.

For your own good, and for the good of the country, revoke the ban on the documentary. Let Parliament discuss it, let people discuss it. If the producers breached contractual obligations, prosecute them in a court of law with evidence, not arbitrary decisions. It does not matter what the US, UK or anyone else thinks of India - we are a country of 1.2 billion people with one of the largest economies in the world, we have nothing to fear from anyone. The issue is not India's image - the issue is the status of women in our society. Join the discussion, take action, fix things - or, far from being re-elected in 2019, risk turning into a lame duck government in record time. 

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