India’s heart is the very institution of democracy, its founding principle which acts as a shining light to set the path straight for development and progress. ‘The Emergency’ imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975 is a black spot on the country.
Indeed, India witnessed the ‘darkest period’ in the history of press freedom back then. Yet again, questions are being raised on the freedom of expression that the Constitution guarantees us. Presently, the ‘Tandav ‘controversy has stirred trouble which is a threat to the democracy. The Amazon Prime show is under the radar of many Hindu conservatives and BJP leaders who have raged a protest against it.
Amazon shows from Mirzapur to Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl to The Suitable Boy and now Tandav, a political drama, are receiving severe backlash.
Many got furious over the portrayal of Hindu gods and deities in poor light. BJP MP Manoj Kotak even wrote to Information and Broadcast Minister Prakash Javadekar seeking a ban on the series.
Films in India are monitored and regulated by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). But there exists no such regulatory body for OTT platforms. Also, there are laws laid down which keeps a check and restricts the unwarranted freedom of expression.
The Indian Penal Code’s Section 153A criminalises statements, speeches or acts that have the effect of disturbing peace or order by promoting enmity or creating fear or alarm between classes of people on the basis of difference in religion, caste, language or place of birth.
These platforms offer greater creative freedom to the producer which have gained heightened popularity since the lockdown was put in place. The government can always ask the creators to practice self-regulation just like the way it happens with media network and not explicitly put it as a law.
Coming with rules and regulations to silent critics and dissent in opinions in the name of maintaining civil order, is disheartening. Here, few words of Gandhiji come to my mind, which he wrote in Harijan – “No society can possibly be built on the denial of individual freedom. It is contrary to the very nature of man. Just as a man will not grow horn or tail, so he will not exist as a man if he has no mind of his own.” In reality, even those who do not believe in the liberty of individual, believe in their own.
In a true democracy, there exists a guarantee of freedom of expression which means the freedom one has to express not only one’s own views but also, the views of others by any means, including broadcasting.
Bringing in a type of ordinance to curb the menace or the surrounding web series is not inviting. Although, the rationale behind making a law on censorship of OTT platforms holds good, there is a high possibility of the power being misused.
It can prove to be a curse for society and hence should not be tolerated under any circumstances. For a democracy to flourish, one should pay heed to the other side and should never underestimate the viewpoint of public at large.