January 26, 2011

To my constitution

As my country celebrates 61 years with a Constitution, here in no particular order are some (only some) of the things I wish that I, and my India, would fully understand:

* Freedoms guaranteed to us have meaning and value -- and are therefore precious. Example: the freedom of speech. It does not come to us tempered by religious sentiments or other such. It is absolute.

* Nonetheless, with freedoms, and even absolute freedoms, come responsibilities. There is no contradiction there.

* Therefore, having a freedom does not give you the right to evade the consequences of your exercise of it, if any. If you shout "Fire!" falsely in a crowded theatre and a stampede results and people are killed, you cannot escape whatever punishment is due by invoking your freedom of speech.

* Having a functioning judiciary means everyone, even people we may loathe, gets legal representation. This is the only way to ensure justice for us all; this is fundamental to the idea of India.

* Therefore, people who attack lawyers who defend particular cases are themselves ignorant of what it means to live in this country, to be Indian.

* There is a sense the Constitution gives us starting in its very first word: that we are all Indian and are in this great Indian enterprise together. All one billion plus of us.

* Therefore, it makes little sense to celebrate the dramatically changed lives 250 million Indians lead, but to pay little attention to the stagnation, or minimal change, in the lives of the other 750 million plus Indians.

* All one billion plus of us deserve, not an equality in the way we live, but an equal chance at a life of dignity. There's a difference.

* Patriotism is not founded on standing up in a movie theatre because a flag appears on screen and the national anthem plays. It is founded in what we feel towards our fellow Indians. Again, all one billion plus of them, but I can start with the guy next to me on the train, or on the street, or in that movie theatre.

* We will necessarily have differing opinions on pretty much every issue. Yet this is the essence of democracy.

* Yet democracy itself gives us the means to address our differences, however sharp and wide: it's called dialogue.

* Yet there's no dialogue when we instead call each other names, whether "terrorist enabler" or "fascist" or something else. There's no dialogue when we instead take to violence. When there's no dialogue, we sink the idea of India.

* I owe this point to my son, this morning: this is a day not just for being stiff and formal and solemn, but to celebrate. Please do!


A similar list I made exactly 5 months and 11 days ago: To be free.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dcubed - Please can you have a tag about 'Freedom of expression' so that we can get an idea of what you have written on the subject w.r.t Indian politics and political history.