Narrow-minded Suppression of Diverse Opinions Should Not be Encouraged!

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  • Ideally speaking, any democratic country would ensure its citizens are duly accorded the freedom to voice opinions even if it goes against the majority view or minority view or for that matter, against the official government view too. Across the world, several democratic countries do offer uninhibited platforms for citizens to voice their opinions without fear of being targeted for going against the official version. That’s the beauty of a vibrant democracy where every viewpoint is heard without prejudice. Of course, Indian citizens pride themselves on being the largest democracy that offers constitutionally guaranteed rights including the freedom of expression.

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PC: Universal

  • As responsible citizens, we must be proud of our forefathers for adopting this in the Constitution. As is its wont, the opposition political parties will raise a hue and cry against the ruling dispensation about the suppression of diverse voices when some matters of importance receive the imposition of restrictions. If these restrictions are forcefully imposed on educational institutions, the evolving background for the next generation stands compromised. The very purpose of democracy stands diluted where the freedom to express is guaranteed unless it leads to a law-and-order situation.
  • Mind you, certain issues are bound to raise passionate viewpoints which could be diverse as well. Take for instance, how the Israel-Hamas war is testing universities’ commitment to freedom of expression has been startling, especially in the US. And now, in Indian universities too. Given how long this conflict has been heatedly debated on campuses, passionate voices holding opposing positions were expected to find ways to continue to coexist. Instead, student groups are being suspended and calls for firing faculty are growing loud, simply for their speech acts. This all-pervading cancel culture is making its way to Indian shores as well.

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PC: Leaders

  • As reported, IIT Bombay has followed up controversy over a guest lecture and a documentary about the Palestine situation, with draconian guidelines on future events. When even elite institutions succumb to prohibitions so easily, it speaks very poorly for the prospects of free inquiry that should thrive in the scholarly ecosystem. Mind you, there is a reason the autonomy of higher educational institutions is considered critical to their pursuit of academic excellence. Undoubtedly, universities that prioritize political or populist patronage over the pursuit of knowledge serve the cause of their hollowing.
  • In the instant case, IIT Bombay is saying it encourages open discussions as long as these remain apolitical. But this is the sine qua non of censorship. Understand that there can be no scientific yardstick to decide which technical, literary, or artistic events are political, and which aren’t. The effect of such powers on free speech is more chilling because these are exercised arbitrarily. At a time when extreme polarization is causing widespread harm to social good, universities are uniquely placed to teach young citizens how to listen to discomfiting opinions instead of only occupying echo chambers. In conclusion, if the answer to every conflict is to hunker down in opposing bunkers, that only pushes peace and progress further away.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.