Freedom of Speech: Privilege or Fundamental Right

Freedom of speech is the freedom to express one’s opinion without fear of consequence or retribution. It is considered as a basic human right that every citizen should be accorded. As such, many countries around the world list freedom of speech as a basic right of their citizens. They proudly proclaim that every citizen has the right to express their opinions and voice their concerns.

The citizens of most countries, may have the right to speak, but what about the consequences of said speech?

There has been a recent wave of activism around the world in countries like the USA, Hong Kong, India, France, Middle East, Philippines, South American countries etc. We get to see which countries truly offer freedom of speech without retaliation to its citizens.

While one country bans journalists, another imprisons dissidents. Some countries even resort to a military crackdown on protesters or order silent kidnappings and assassinations of these speakers. All this happens while they proudly declare that they offer freedom of speech.

The reason that I am speaking, on this issue, is that I want to make people revaluate all the fundamental rights that they are offered. Many countries say that it’s citizens have the right to free speech. Yet, all speakers are effectively hushed at the end of the day. Anyone who raises questions is extracted and jailed or simply killed.

Does this happen in your country? Do you see activists raising difficult questions and living to tell the tale? For this exercise, don’t consider the conspiracies that keep floating around in social media. Make a quick check of all the social activists and if they are free or jailed or worse. If they are still continuing their work, then it is a good sign for civil liberties.

A tweet or a facebook post stating that our government is becoming fascist does not make it the truth. The fact that these people are allowed to speak badly about their government daily is proof that democracy prevails.

Just enabling free speech does not exempt the government of all wrongdoings. However, it gives the citizens a chance to question their leaders, ask pertinent questions regarding policies. They can speak up and discuss all the obstacles in the path. Citizens can now negotiate an amicable end to any disagreement. Every democracy can function only when there is equal participation from all sides. To participate in a democracy, Freedom of Speech is the cornerstone value.

Women’s Rights vs Equal Rights

If you are following the news in India, you will be aware of the recent events of crimes against women. The number of incidences of rape, police apathy and mob justice and crimes against women has increased. This caused a renewed concern for the safety of women and women’s rights in society. As bad as it is to hear about the cases of women being brutalised, killed and raped, it is worse when we hear the comments of people. Some say that women are weak and that is why such things happen to them. Labelling women as weak and wrapping them in cotton wool does not reduce the chance of crimes against them. Such labels only strangle their chances to fight back against injustice. Now they will be restricted even more from chasing their dreams. Would it be a wrong time to raise the debate of women’s rights now?

At the cost of sounding insensitive, I would like to point out that rape, assault against women are as grievous as the assault against men, racist crimes, hate crime etc. Every crime done against another human being is just as bad as the others. They should al be punished just as severely as the other.

I believe in equal rights for men and women, although I am not a feminist. It appears that since I do not believe in ‘women first’, I cannot be a feminist. However, there is no field of study, work, research, or society that should be barred for women or for men. Both women and men should be praised, applauded, tried, tested and punished equally. Both genders should be given equal opportunity to greatness and stupidity, justice and crime, prosperity and destruction, virtue and vice etc. Everyone should be treated equitably, hence all crimes against everyone should be treated uniformly. However, I agree that this is an idealistic view.

Women should not be treated like porcelain dolls that are unable to withstand rough conditions. At the same time, when hard work and labour is required, women should not back down. I do not mean offence, but I have seen women use their gender as an excuse. They try to escape certain work with this reason. To be fair to women, most times we are not assigned some work, though we are ready to take on the challenge. We should stop expecting men to open doors for us, let us enter first or wait on us in the name of chivalry. We cannot ask for equal rights and special treatment at the same time.

Time and again, women have proven that they are as strong as men, both physically and mentally. From armed forces to scientific research, from arts to business, from sports to politics, women have proven their mettle in every field. When we can work shoulder to shoulder with men, we should not expect them to pave the way for women or protect us from crimes.

Disclaimer: I have sourced the image from Google images. I do not own the image.

Let Us Agree To Disagree

People all over the world, irrespective of ethnicity, race, religion, gender etc are all obsessed with being in agreement. People want to be in conformity with others in everything, be it appearance, ideas, opinions, even in priorities. The funny thing is, even when you disagree on something, we all want to disagree on the same thing. Conforming to a norm or a set of rules of utmost importance.

We all speak very highly of heterogeneity, uniqueness, out of the box thinking. However, the minute an unconventional idea, or fresh thinking or something different comes up, we all want to remove it, to change it or to kill the uniqueness. Basically, our first instinct is to remove anything that stands out and bring back uniformity. We might enjoy discussing this new idea, we may argue about its pros and cons. We could also debate about it, but we all want everyone to reach a consensus and stand by it. We do not accept fringe groups who want to make their own path.

In today’s world, diversity in the true sense is not tolerated. It is a superficial concept that we like to boast about. However, in our hearts, we secretly plan to remedy this situation. At the core, we want everyone to think, function and behave alike. This notion is what brings about the death of a culture. When we get into a herd mentality, individual thought dies. Without independent individual thought, society cannot grow and evolve. It will die a slow and painful death.

We all need to make an effort to accept our differences. Not just on a superficial level, but also in our hearts. We should understand that there is nothing wrong with being different. We must make an effort to realise that there is nothing wrong in seeing a different perspective. There cannot be a hero without a coward, no white without black or no good without evil. So diversity is a requirement to every society rather than a nuisance that you have to put up with.

Image Source: I have sourced the featured image from Google images. I do not own this image.

The Election Results Are Out…..Now What??

India had its first General Elections in the year 1951, since then India has conducted elections every five years to elect the Prime Minister. This year, the Lok Sabha elections were held for the 17th time. Lok Sabha is the lower house and with this election, the members of the Parliament are appointed. Every state also conducts its own elections, called the Assembly elections.

The state of Andhra Pradesh was formed, recently in 2014, and they held their second general elections this year.

election winner

For the past several months, there was a frenzy of activity for elections and the media covered it all. Any channel you tune into, one could hear all kinds of analysis, opinion polls, predictions, pointing fingers and breaking news upon breaking news. News anchors appeared out of the blue on busy streets and bazaars for interviews. They would stick their mic into the face of unsuspecting strangers asking, “Who do you think will win this election and why?” The politicians went channel hopping giving interviews, sitting for discussions with their pet channels. They would rain spit over the microphone during heated arguments with political opponents.

The electorate of India lapped up all this and more from the social media which has now become the informal fifth leg of the government. The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are the three pillars of government and Media is the fourth pillar.

But, now social media has become the new fifth pillar. Social media was super active with comical gifs, images, trolls and what not. After all the din, the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner and the results were declared.

election winner 3

The outcome of these elections is that Narendra Modi has won the Parliamentary election and Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has won the Assembly elections in the state of Andhra Pradesh. My hearty congratulations and best wishes to all the winners. The supporters of the winning parties all over the country are in celebratory mode and the losers are no doubt feeling low.

Like they say: “Success is never final and failure never fatal”, there is no need to feel depressed. People will never fail to notice sincere hard work, loyalty, talent and skill to lead the country in the right direction. This loss is a time to reevaluate the work they have done for the country and victory is a time to make good use of the trust that people have placed on them. In short, the mantra is: Work in the best interest of the country and its people.

Most people might feel, now that the elections are done they can get back to their routine. I beg to differ. Actually, the story begins here. Given the existing challenges, we need to see how they deal with these problems and what kind of decisions they make. Today the world political scenario is volatile; this adds greater responsibility on the Prime Minister. Andhra Pradesh needs to build a proper capital city and develop its infrastructure while they are cash strapped. It has to be seen how Y.S. Jagan will deal with these challenges.

After the elections, we need to work with the government by encouraging the ministers for the good things they do and let them know when they make decisions that are not in the best interest of the people and the country. After the elections, it is time for us to forget all about which political party we backed and actively work towards the development of the country and its people. Where there is a will there is a way, so look around and see what little one can do to contribute towards the greater good and do it.

Sometimes we take the power in our hands for granted. There are countries in the world that either don’t have a democratic form of government or it is some other form of government cloaked in a democracy like the proverbial wolf in sheepskin.  People in democratic countries need to understand that power lies in the hands of the people and they must value this power. Work with your leaders to make democracy a success. Today, irrespective of which political party scored the max votes, it is Indian democracy that has triumphed.

Who gets my vote

Voting and elections are the hot topic in the country today. With the general elections just around the corner, every political party is campaigning, canvassing and, in some cases, begging for your votes. It is not just political parties that depend on our votes, reality show participants, news anchors, beauty pageants etc also depend on public voting. When votes are such an important part of our democracy, what is the psyche behind each vote.

I am not talking about the contestants of any show, political party, pageant, reality contest or the virtues of any candidate. I, simply aim to understand what triggers a voter to choose a particular participant. I have spoken to my friends, colleagues, co passengers, and gathered general opinion from neighbours and relatives. Mind you, I am not conducting a scientific survey or study, all this is just to satisfy my curiosity. Now that I have made my intentions clear, I will make my findings clear too. I have found some very weird and funny reasons, some smart and practical reasons and some absolutely ridiculous reasons too.

  • Some people have given usual answers like ‘that participant is from my community/ caste/ neighborhood/ ethnicity’, this reason is most unreasonable because it has no bearing on the contest at all.
  • There were also reasons like ‘his/her relative was a good person’, this again is a bad reason because you can’t call someone a good reason or actor or person just because they are related to good people.
  • Some people have given practical answers like, ‘this person is a lesser evil compared to others’. I understand that in some contests you don’t have any suitable or good participant, we just have to pick the best option.
  • Here is a foolish reason for supporting or voting for your candidate. ‘i like to support the underdog’. This is such a bad reason because, you are the underdog most of the time due to your lack of skill, preparation and qualification. How can that be a reason to make you win.
  • Some people also vote purely based on appearances or looks. ‘he looks so innocent/ kind/ cute’ etc.
  • Sometimes the participants create tragic backstory  to gather sympathy votes. I have seen hardcore enthusiasts and fans and followers fall for such plots. The participants mainly have the skill needed, but have a sad story and you can get through. Revenge is also another reason for people to vote for unqualified candidates. We try to play god and avenge the wrongs done by a candidate by voting for other unqualified candidates

In this way, people have given a wide range of good, bad and ugly reasons to bestow ones vote. The sad thing is that we can’t preach to the public about the importance of vote and their duty. When we are starved for good choices, we have to make do with bad ones.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these images. They are sourced from Google and Pinterest.

The Most Happening City Of Hyderabad

Hello everyone!! I am a working girl from Hyderabad, India. I consider myself independent, not only financially, since I am working, but, also in my ideas and ideologies. I would like to think that I form my own opinions and do not get swayed by popular notions.

After having described myself as such, I think I need to explain why I had to assert this point. I was born and brought up in Hyderabad. I have always viewed the city as laid back. No one is ever in a rush to be on time, though they are always hurrying around in traffic. Hyderabadis are known for the ’nawabi’ attitude. We open our shops at 10:30 or 11 in the morning, we float traffic rules like nobody’s business, yet we don’t tolerate rule breakers, we are loud in our celebrations, prayers and sorrow etc.

If I sit down to speak of the attitude of the people in general, it will take another separate blog in itself. Having described the city as the most laid-back place with a “Devil may care” attitude, I was pleasantly surprised when I read a news article that Hyderabad was adjudged the most happening city in India. How did we end up being a happening place with an attitude like ours? This was the question in my mind for quite a while.

Do not get me wrong here. Hyderabad has all the requisites for a great metro. We have very good malls, shopping center like Inorbit, GVK One, Forum mall, Central mall etc with the latest fashion. We have many good restaurants and pubs for the youth to hang around. Hyderabad is the host to many MNCs, software giants, educational institutions etc too. There was never a dearth for the right people or the right places. Yet, Hyderabad got the tag of ‘the most happening city’ only in 2018.

What could be the reason? What did we change to get that tag? What made the difference only now? These were all the questions floating around in my mind.

After some consideration I realized that Hyderabad never lacked in any of these facets. It was only the publicity and marketing that changed. We always had clubs and discos, shopping malls and restaurants. The only thing that changed is the PR. We always had noisy Holi parties, Ganesh nimarjan was always a big happy procession, Iftar parties were the place to be for amazing food, Durga Pooja and dandiya nights still draw the young and hip crowds any day. What is new is the way we highlight our culture, uniqueness and flavour that makes all the difference.