Skip to main content

#JusticeForGauri: There is only one way forward, more power to the word. Therein lies our hope for tomorrow

By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
Exactly one month after the brutal murder of Gauri Lankesh, the well-known journalist and activist, thousands of citizens gathered for a massive rally in Delhi on October 5th. It was truly a ‘March for Democracy ’ demanding #JusticeForGauri and for intellectuals and journalists like Narendra Dabholkar, M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare , Shantanu Bhowmick and several others, who have been killed in recent times, because of their courage to stand up for truth and justice.
The massive crowd comprised a large spectrum of civil society and included media personalities, human rights and social activists, students and academics, grass root workers and intellectuals. Their refrains were loud and clear ‘Protect Dissent and Democracy’, and say ‘No to Fear and Hate’. Posters and banners with slogans like “we are Gauri” and the words of Pablo Neruda “you can crush the flowers but you cannot stop the spring”, were carried by the marchers.
As if on cue, most of the so- called ‘mainstream media’ hardly gave this massive march the coverage it deserved! Several of the journalists and other media folk in India, are coopted, bought up or bamboozled into silence. Some are just frightened. Huge corporations that are in sync with a corrupt Government, through dubious ways, have taken over some of the major print and electronic media. More are apparently in the offing. There are a good many media ‘guys’ who scream themselves hoarse on their channels in efforts to mouth lies, half-truths, ‘feku-isms’ and toe the line of their political bosses.
Freedom of speech and expression is systematically being throttled in India; the marchers in Delhi, made this evidently clear to all. Few of the major newspapers in India are able to demonstrate the freedom, the courage, the objectivity and the intellectual depth which some of the US dailies do today, as they take on President Trump and his policies, incessantly. Fortunately, we still have some excellent journalists, in India today, made in the mould of Gauri, who are articulate and fearlessly take on the fascists and fundamentalists who are trying to deny the citizens of their legitimate rights.
Very significantly on October 5th ,it was announced in Stockholm that the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 was awarded to English author Kazuo Ishiguro "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".Ishiguro has written several best-selling novels. He also speaks plainly on critical issues. Writing a powerful op-ed in the ‘Financial Times’ (July 1st 2016) a little after the United Kingdom had decided to leave the European Union, he raises a critical question as to whether Britain had voted for xenophobia; he concludes his article saying, “we need a second referendum, for or against a “Brexit Light”, that will unite Britain around its traditional humane instincts. And to isolate the racists who today deludedly believe they have won the backing of the country’. Words certainly very applicable to the situation in India today!
More than 175 years ago, novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his historical play of 1839, ‘Cardinal Richelieu’ wrote those immortal words, "the pen is mightier than the sword" Richelieu who was the Chief minister of King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him; but he is a priest and therefore unable to take up arms against his enemies. His page, Francois, points out to him, “but now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord”. And Richelieu readily agrees, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword... Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!”
Across the world today, several dictators, fascists, fundamentalists and totalitarian regimes are afraid of the pen and use the sword to throttle freedom of speech and expression. Journalists and others who are visible and vocal in taking a stand for truth and justice, are harassed and incarcerated; brutalized and murdered. There is, however, only one way forward: more power to the word! Therein lies our hope for tomorrow!
---
*Indian human rights activist

Comments

TRENDING

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

'Favouring' tribals and ignoring Adivasis? Behind coercion of India's aborigines

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Tribal people account for 8.2% of India’s population. They are spread over all of India’s States and Union Territories. Even so they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first grouping consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations. These are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people.