The freedom of expression, and, the expression of freedom


 In an organized world, not only nations, but, communities, and, individuals as well, are closely connected. In this situation any action at one point, can result in reactions everywhere, writes Prof H C Pande


That there should be freedom of expression in a democratic society,or,in any society for that matter,has never been in doubt,however,the ways in which this freedom is to be expressed requires careful contemplation.Any statement,of any kind,at any place,and,at any time,is possible only in one man universe,however,as soon as it is populated,and societies emerge,interlinked in more than one way, one has to think twice,before opening up.

Even in stating the truth,due discretion is required,so our ancients tell us.
“Satyam bruyaat,priyam bruyaat,na bruyaat satyamaprium”
………………………………..Speak the truth,pleasant truth,do not speak unpleasant truth.
It does not mean tell lies,but,only that,unpleasant truth need not be stated suo moto.
Any step,that,can result in the release of energy,physical,or,emotional,has to be  taken after due deliberation,ensuring that the released energy creates positivity.Whether you open a Pressure Cooker lid,or,convey an unexpected news,the process has to be gradual,otherwise,steam burns,or,heart attacks may take place.Nuclear energy is a case in point.For harnessing nuclear energy,for productive purposes,the nuclear reactor has to have a moderating mechanism,for instance,the control rod mechanism. It is this contraption which basically converts a possible atomic bomb into an atomic power generating station.It is the moderator which channels the the immense destructive energy into equally immense constructive energy.

In an organized world, not only nations, but, communities, and, individuals as well, are closely connected. In this situation any action at one point, can result in reactions everywhere, and, a little slip can cause a senseless landslide.Countries carrying the load of centuries of history, with the stockpile of superstitions and prejudices,are like huge ammunition dumps,and,a spark anywhere,causes devastation everywhere.
In human societies,emotional energy,is akin to nuclear energy,and has to be handled with extreme care.The speed of thought is faster than that of light so the emotional bomb is far more destructive than the atomic bomb.It is easier to control a split atom than a split society.
In the Information Age,in a manner of speaking, information is available even before the event has taken place.The ready availability of information across the board and the possibility of its transmission,anywhere,and,everywhere, almost instantaneously,is a temptation which ,the politician or the media find hard to resist,each for a different reason.The politician to score a brownie point before any corrective action can be taken,and,the media agency for one-up-manship,before the rival agencies splash the news.Information conveyed out of context is,more often than not,an infallible trigger to create chaos,and,yet the same news conveyed with proper context prevents any riotous situation and sense prevails.This is where exercising,the right of freedom of  expression,has to be moderated by wisdom so that the expression of this freedom contributes to positive energy.Surely,truth must prevail,but,it has to be the whole truth,as,a bare true statement without the background,is only part truth, which is worse than a blatant lie.Half-truth,is like the first part of a story,just the exposition,and,nothing beyond.This allows the reader free rein,to trot,gallop,or,run amok.And,the last one generally happens.A fight between two neighboring kids turns into a riot between two communities if incompletely reported.The matter may be as simple as a broken pencil,or,a destroyed page,but,it results in broken limbs and destroyed shops.One can cite  examples ad infinitum.
Unfortunately,it is near hopeless,to expect moderation from the politician,as,arousing emotions is his bread and butter.But,certainly the media can present the right picture in the right way.Or is it hoping too much?

(Prof. H C Pande is Vice Chancellor Emeritus , BITS, Mesra)


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