Cacophony around being forced to say Bharat Mata ki Jai
EDIT ::: < the Core Right agenda that was here > has moved to a separate article here “A Core Right agenda for a Modern India” please comment on that one.
The country is drifting from one meaningless issue to another. As soon as the media stopped its din over the Wold Culture Festival they hopped on to the “Bharat Mata ki Jai” issue. I stumbled upon this article this morning by Asaduddin Owaisi.
No. This was not said in a deliberate way to create this so-called controversy. I said it on record because RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has said that time has now come to teach people this particular slogan so that they could take pride in the country. I said I would not say. The Constitution doesn’t mandate it. It is my freedom of expression and religion. I have nothing against raising a slogan. I am very much aware of that. What is wrong if I say Jai Hind or Hindustan Zindabad.
Source : Firstpost
The central issue in this is the following. We all know that Freedom of Expression essentially places a negative constraint on the state. That is the state cannot prevent you from saying, writing, or expressing. The Bharat Mata ki Jai issue is different, can the state make you say, write, or express in other ways something you dont want to say?
The answer is Yes. In the case of Oaths and Affirmations, you may be forced to say things you may not want to say.
In 18th and 19th Century England, Catholics were cleverly excluded from public office for over 100 years by designing a special Oath of Allegiance. Among other things all those who wanted public office in England had to state that the “King of England has ultimate supremacy over the Church and not the Pope”. Obviously no Catholic would say that. So, they were ousted !! Even in the Protestant fold, the Quakers would not agree to swear to tell the truth by the King James Bible. They insisted their entire life is about telling the truth and there is no special need to take an Oath. Because of this, Quakers were not allowed to testify and a lot of criminals got away because you cant bear witness if you wont take the Oath !!
So India also has an Oaths and Affirmation (non religious) Act. All Muslim MP have to and they do say those words when they are sworn in. Curiously even the Indian Pledge “India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters..” are recited without protest at school functions. You could ask if “All Indians are my brothers and sisters” does that make the country a mother? Maybe.
What Owaisi seeks is clear legal rules. I have to agree with him on this. Everyone cannot be asked to separately contract with everyone else on matters such as this. What people seek is a single clear interface with law. Someone cant just walk up to you and administer a private oath “Say XYZ or ..” and then have you evaluate his particular violence potential against your own and then decide if you want to say it or not. This is not how mature countries work.
Unfortunately even learned Right Wing are getting the dynamics wrong. Currently the discourse is with the foot soldier of Hindutva even though the BJP is in power. The centre must seize the discourse at the top level, announce that sectarian laws will be dismantled, and private thuggery and enforcement will not be tolerated. What is happening it the reverse. After having voted in a Core Right agenda, people find that nothing of that sort is happening, hence they want private enforcement. This leads to such stupid issues.
EDIT ::: < the Core Right agenda that was here > has moved to a separate article here https://realitycheck.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/a-core-right-agenda-for-a-modern-india/