In general, censorship in India, which involves the suppression of speech or other public communication, raises issues of freedom of speech, which is protected by the Indian constitution.The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression, but places certain restrictions on content, with a view towards maintaining communal and religious harmony, given the history of communal tension in the nation. According to the Information Technology Rules 2011, objectionable content includes anything that “threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order”.
In 2021, the Freedom in the World report by Freedom House gave India a Civil Liberties Rating of 33/60. In the subcategories, India got a rating of 2/4 on ‘free and independent media’, 2/4 on ‘individual’s freedom to practice and express their religious faith or non-belief in public and private’, and a score of 2/4 on ‘academic freedom, and the educational system’s freedom from extensive political indoctrination’. Analysts from Reporters Without Borders rank India 133rd in the world in their 2017 Press Freedom Index, In 2016, the report Freedom’ by Freedom House gave India a press.
A classic example of censorship in India is the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) which comes under the purview of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Board regularly instruct, direct to eliminate anything it deems offensive or subjects considered being politically subversive. The Cinematograph Act, 1952 governs the censorship of films. It assigns various certifications such as Universal, Adults, and Parental Guidance to films in India before public exhibition. Globally, the greatest concern of censors is the portrayal of violence and sex. The job of censor board is to control the “corruption of the mind” and to stop pornographic films. But on
the other side, it is reality of today that anyone with internet access can see pornography easily available.
Today a youngster with internet access can watch all kinds of pornography by using
three letters “sex”, while the censor board are still on long discussions for the permitted duration of a kissing scene in a movie. The Constitution of India provides the right to freedom of speech
and expression with certain restrictions that is morality, decency, public order etc. Further, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) allows cramping free speech on grounds of outraging religious feelings,
making statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes on grounds of caste, religion, language or race. These laws are so broadly classified that cases can be impossible
to invalidate, because it is difficult for a judge to take the view that some of speech does not promote hatred between groups. There is no chance that these laws can be struck of the
legislations. Politically, nobody will do it, because we have such a huge vacuum of leadership that nobody has the guts to step up and suggest such changes. Lately the movie “Love, Simon” was banned from India. India’s. censor board has denied banning “Love, Simon”, an iconic
American movie with a gay protagonist, and accused the producers of creating a controversy to attract viewers.Vani Tripathi, a member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), told Outlook over the phone that the CBFC had cleared
the film on February 6 with an adult certificate. LGBT rights activists have been accusing the CBFC, a statutory body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, of putting a ban on the movie because of its subject, considered taboo by many in India.With the recent over turning of the judgement relating to section
377 of the Indian Penal Code is it fair to say that there is a need of change of perception in the eyes of the CBFC? Movies such as UDTA PUNJAB and MOHALLA ASSI are more relevant and recent
examples of censorship being wielded unfairly to silence issues of great importance to the nation as a whole however, films are not subject to only nation-wide cuts but also regionally with
movies such as PADMAAVAT and JODHA-AKBAR coming under fire from various extreme groups causing the movies to be either delayed or various portions cut to appease the various fringe.
Here, we present to you a list of a few events since the year 2015, which are not only a cause of worry but also demand introspection as per the repercussions they might be having on the future of this country. While a few of them are not directly supported by the ruling party or their stated ideologies, the failure to protect freedom of speech is equally worrisome.
1. Wendy Doniger’s Book On Hinduism is Withdrawn by Penguin India.
In the run-up to the General Elections, The Hindus: An Alternative History had attracted the wrath of the right-wing political groups. Dinanath Bharat, leader of the Siksha Bachao Andolan had filed a case against the book, which he deemed was insulting to Hindu Gods and distorted history. While the debate raged on about the writing style and accuracy of the book’s facts, Penguin India decided to withdraw the book from bookstores across India.
2. Shehzad Poonawalla’s ‘Myth-Busting Article’ on Gujarat is Removed after it Goes Viral.
A DNA article titled “Mamta Banerjee calls Narendra Modi ‘butcher of Gujarat’; here are 9 myth busters on 2002 post-Godhra riots” was removed by DNA on April 30, just hours after it was put up. The reason was never made clear but it’s speculated that the BJP PR team raised objections. The article listed credible sources from various judgements and 2002 articles to point out the culpability of the Gujarat Government in failing to prevent the Godhra Massacre.
3. Case against College Editorial for Saying Modi is One of the Cruellest People in the World
A case was filed against the editorial team of the magazine of Government Polytechnic College in Kunnamkulam, Kerala for using PM Modi’s image in a list of the cruellest people in the world. Subsequently, nine students of Sree Krishna College in Guruvayur were arrested for using the PM’s nickname of NaMo as a crossword clue which led to a solution which spelt an expletive.
4. Pune Techie Killed by Mob over Morphed Images
A Pune IT Professional was killed by an angry right-wing mob from Hindu Rashtra Sena over morphed images of Shiv Sena Chief, Balasaheb Thackeray, Shivaji and Hindu gods. Mohsin Shaikh was said to have been targeted for being a Muslim though there was no connection established between him and the controversial images. The provocative images were shared on social media and caused widespread violence and damage to public property.
5.Protests Over Bollywood film, PK.
PK may owe some amount of its tremendous box office success to the protests the movie faced upon release. There were massive protests held by the right-wing groups who alleged that the movie hurt their religious sentiments. Prominent right-wing leaders like Baba Ramdev called for the boycott of the movie and repeated demands were made to make certain cuts to the movie or to get it banned completely. The Censor Board refused such demands and after many protests and vandalising of theatres, the movie ended up being the highest-grossing Bollywood movie with net collections of almost 340 Crores.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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