Pritish Nandy’s got it the beginning wrong while writing about bans-
India’s a great democracy, give or take a few aberrations. We have a free vote, a media that largely speaks its mind. Top politicians still get caught out for their indiscretions, so do leading businessmen. And yes, we read what we want to, watch what we choose, say what we desire without being unduly worried. But will it stay this way forever? One’s beginning to have serious doubts.
The reason’s simple. Our leaders are always looking for a quick fix, even when it compromises on our most basic freedoms, as enshrined in the Constitution.
When the constitution itself is a compromise, how can anyone compromise on anything in it? If one forgets India’s pre-English history, and takes a look at countries that have followed the English “interpretation” when it comes to rights and freedom (Canada and Australia) they are eons away from the American “interpretation” of such concepts. Thus, while the English bloc relies on “society” to decide what is permissible and not, the US has its First Amendment. Its the idea that matters. And the English idea sucks.
Dasgupta swallows Mukherjee’s most important line when he writes this-
On November 28, 2007, Pranab Mukherjee had assured the Lok Sabha that “India has never refused shelter to those who had come and sought our protection…This civilizational heritage, which is now the government’s policy, will continue, and India will provide shelter to Ms Nasreen.”
Mukherjee is a politician. And here’s the relevant part of the statement–
Throughout history, India has never refused shelter to those who have come and sought our protection. This civilizational heritage, which is now government policy, will continue, and India will provide shelter to Ms. Nasreen. Those who have been granted shelter here have always undertaken to eschew political activities in India or any actions which may harm India’s relations with friendly countries. It is also expected that the guests will refrain from activities and expressions that may hurt the sentiments of our people.
I know this because I’ve written about it previously–
Taslima Nasreen has accepted defeat. The Government of India (through Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee) issued a veiled warning to her – India has never turned back people who have sought shelter with it. And in return, these ‘guests’ have always taken care not to hurt the sentiments of the people or India’s relations with other countries. Not his exact words, but this is more or less what he has said.
An “assurance” it was not.