A day before India was going to celebrate its 74th Independence, the Supreme Court of India passed a judgment of 108 pages proving guilty a senior lawyer of Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan for two of his tweets in which he criticized the role of Supreme Court in the time of Covid-19 lockdown. This judgment of proving a senior lawyer guilty under contempt of court is enough to show us where our country is heading on the path of dissent.
In these past 5-6 years, I experienced that people from every stratum of society, every institution and even every political party have not been entertaining dissent as they should, the country is becoming more and more furious against any kind of criticism or dissent, and one can witness this easily. You just need to read out the comment section of the Twitter account of any opposition political leader or any activist who is opposing the policies of the ruling government.
You will realize the kind of hatred people have against anyone’s dissent. But this ‘not taking dissent healthily’ doesn’t stop just by abusing political leaders or intellectuals on twitter, but it has gone so far that it has taken the lives of many, one recent example can be the murder of a senior journalist ‘Gauri Lankesh’.
So, the bigger question that arises here is: who is responsible for this? Who is making these people furious against dissent? The most straightforward answer to this question will be the ‘Indian media’.
The role of media from the last 5-6 years has become the major enemy of dissent in this country, the everyday telecast of 9 PM prime time debates on our television is an excellent example of this because the whole idea of these debates are based on ‘How to suppress dissent’, whether it is from any opposition party, any activist or any intellectual.
The entire aim of the anchor is to suppress dissent for which he takes help from the people who support his views. In return, these helpers seek the help of shouting, abusing, and even indulging in violence on national television. Due to all this, the person who raises questions is often rendered helpless in finding answers from these people and ultimately get tagged ‘anti national’. Why? Just because they asked questions?
The person who is watching these news channels to get informed about what his elected government is doing only gets to watch a heated debate in which the person who is supporting the view is shouting and abusing on every question asked by his opponent. Due to this, the viewer who is searching for an answer can’t get any. But the only thing the viewers get to know is that anyone who is asking questions or raising a voice of dissent is branded an anti-national or ‘deshdrohi,’ and due to this thinking, the answering capabilities of viewers get drained.
Ultimately, he switches to abuse people who are asking questions to him or raising questions on social media. He also starts sending death threats and rape threats to journalists and political activists and committing some severe crimes like murder.
After the judgment of Supreme Court in the Prashant Bhushan case ,the SC has also shown a rigid stand against dissent which should not be there in a 74 years old democracy like India. In today’s time, India and its institutions need to be more fluid towards dissent so that the democratic values of this country can flourish.