Would You Sacrifice Your Freedom Of Expression For ‘Development’?

Posted on April 2, 2014

By Rohit Inani:

To tell the truth, ‘development’ has single handedly catapulted Narendra Modi from the dirty pits of the infamous 2002 Gujarat Riots (though his claims of development have been under the scanner; and Gujarat, as the truth slowly unfolded, has not fared well in sectors of education and jobs when compared to other smaller states). Nonetheless, the price he paid for the riots was his development model, modelled across Gujarat. And he fared well, coming out almost clean on the other side, with a vibrant Gujarat model sitting atop his freshly polished palm.


More or less, his fame has been equally pushed by the debacle of the current UPA government with corruption being the main burning issue, which was responsible for the slow economic growth of the country, and barely any development. The Congress has gone far and out in accusing Modi for being non-secular and anti-Muslim but in vain. In spite of being directly accused for the Gujarat Riots, he is the front runner to bag the Prime Ministerial seat and echo a win for the conservative Hindu Party, BJP. This explains everything. This indicates the hunger for development and prosperity across the nation. This is where the secular card of the UPA failed and failed terribly. And this is where they would regret working as a ‘laid back’ government, having realized lately that poverty was never “a state of mind.”

But the bigger question still looms over a rushed and fuzzy development model – Does it come with a price on my freedom of expression on the streets, on the roads, on the paper, on the Television, on a 70mm screen or on publishing another Wendy Donniger? Will BJP and its conservative allies shed the Hindutva form of governance and breathe more flexibility and freedom into the society, pushing for a better and a more secular India under its term? The answer doesn’t seem to be on the positive note though.

Not forgetting the recent ban on Donniger’s book, which was a direct attack on art and expression by the Hindu Right wing, their acts of late have been questionable in the year of the elections. The ban on a street play at the Kala Ghoda Arts festival and in Kerela point towards hard line governance coming our way. Well, Modi may find himself far from these events because he neither cared to comment on what happened nor promised to stop such acts by the Hindutva machinery, that clearly shows his reluctance to speak out against the chain of events. (Why wouldn’t a PM candidate comment on acts by his party’s allies against the violation of freedom of expression?)

Are we as a nation ready to shed our freedom on the altar of development? Are we ready for surveillance on our privacy by someone of the legion of Amit Shah, accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, and let our hunger of development be satisfied by his Saheb while we reel under his conservatism? This man went on to say on behalf of the BJP: “We will build a temple in Ayodhya after coming to power for the millions of Hindus.” Well, millions of Hindus won’t overthrow a secular UPA and vote you to power to build a temple first. These are some of the many events that have come out signalling a conservative and authoritarian Modi cabinet.

I believe India needs good governance that could empower its poor and push its economy simultaneously, and put it somewhere close to our rising neighbour China, but not at the cost of cutting off my wings. The youth of this country would never approve of this. Sustained development with a vibrant and free society is what they are seeking, and if Modi comes with a development model along with a hard lined governance, then he too would be shown the door, sooner or later.

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