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The Free Voice: On Democracy, Culture and the Nation by Ravish Kumar

I happened to come across this book on Storytel and immediately added it to my TBR. Of course, I know Ravish Kumar for being one of the few journalists in India that are doing their job ethically.However, I was surprised to see I wasn’t aware of this book when it was released.
Although, his words make more sense now keeping in mind the situation of India.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?


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At a time when free expression and individual liberty in India appear to be under serious threat, Ravish Kumar is one of our bravest and most mature public voices. Few journalists today have as keen an understanding of Indian society and politics and as strong a commitment to the truth. Fewer still can match him in eloquence and integrity.
In this necessary book, he examines why debate and dialogue have given way to hate and intolerance in India, how elected representatives, the media and other institutions are failing us and looks at ways to repair the damage to our democracy.

THOUGHTS


I have been mentally drained of sanity since the past few days. It’s only been a month and 2020 has been an absolute chaos. Personally, Politically, Professionally and Globally. Every other day there is some new issue that arises. It’s hard to decide what I should be concerned about – the corona virus, Bush fires, WW3, India’s Fascist Regime or the fact I am in love with someone who doesn’t fit the mold my Brahman, Hindutva supporting family has.
Being born in India and grown up with the “secular” idea of a country I have so much attachment with. It is sad to see what is happening in India Today.

The situation in India, wasn’t sudden. that much is assured. It was bound to happen. In fact, so many people saw it coming. Only, hoped that they weren’t right. It is sad the amount of hatred being spread against a community, and a religion. The Government right now reeks with vengeance. I would like to mention a quote I came across by a British political theorist that I wished more people understood.

A Politics of Vengeance is not politics. Revenge is a recklessness towards the future in a vain attempt to make the present abolish a suffering which is already past.

Bernard Crick

This book talks about the fear to barely voice your opinion on the misgovernment. God forbid, if you say that to a Bhakt -you will be attacked with lewd comments, abuses , mob lynching,or worse just end up dead. This book manages to highlight how successful they have been in meticulously instilling fear into the citizens through just trolls and mobs.
It talks about the silence of the mainstream media on important issues in the country. Almost every news channel you look at brews fake news and preaches communal hatred. And if that wasn’t enough. They don’t waste a moment to slap you with an anti national label.

“News channels have worked tirelessly to kill India’s democratic ideals, with the result that vast numbers of the Indian people follow channels that ask no questions of the government. These channels have trained their viewers to watch only a particular kind of TV where nothing is demanded of them, except a willing and complete suspension of belief. And absolute amorality. Elected representatives can garland killers, ministers can lie, news anchors can read out government press releases as news. It bothers no one enough.”

Ravish Kumar, The Free Voice: On Democracy, Culture and the Nation

It talks about multiple assassinations of journalists and activists by right wing extremest. Some of them being Justice Loya and Gauri Lankesh.
Few of the many people that chose to challenge the wrongdoing of the government.

“Wherever a Mob Gathers Is Hitler’s Germany” was my favorite essay out of all. and begs one to take note of the events that unraveled to cause one of the world’s worst genocide in Nazi Germany. It warns us that we can’t be too careful when it comes to preventing a situation like this in India. It shows us the mirror and it indeed is an ugly sight.

More of the growing issues this book highlights is the controversial “love-jihad” and the Anti- Romeo Squads left loose in the country.. They are honestly pathetic in my view and more “anti-love” and “pro-hate”. Who are you to even decide who I should love? When did loving an individual be subject to having the same religion and caste?

Also, how is it so hard for people to understand the main job of a government is to provide good welfare and access to basic necessities to its citizens. It is not a charity to look after the poor, the backward class and the minorities but a responsibility. Any decision straying from that is not good governance.

RATING: ★★★★★

Overall, This book emphasizes on the inalienable citizen’s right in a democratic country to question the government, the right to privacy, the right to choosing who you love, what religion or caste you follow and most importantly it shows you the mirror to what India is turning into and the growing risk to our right to freedom of speech.


DETAILS


Published:February 27th 2018
Genre: Non Fiction | India – Politics
Pages: 184
Publisher: Speaking Tiger Books


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(2) Comments

  1. […] pride. This instantly made it on the required reading list for me after I picked up Lajja and The Free Voice last month and hence I picked it up to educate myself more on the growing Kashmir Conflict and I am […]

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