That Nasty Thing Called Freedom

Should Salman Rushdie be allowed to visit India? Of course not. Rushdie had insulted the Prophet and blasphemed Islam and therefore he has no place in India. Remember we didn’t allow M F Husain to live in his country? But don’t mistake us. We are a people who love freedom of expression. But this freedom should not be construed as a mud that you can keep on slinging at another. As the saying goes, ‘the right to swing your fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.’ Well, India is, you know, too crowded and therefore people are too close to each other to even move one’s fist. Hence, such insults are not tolerated. 

That too, Rushdie had blasphemed against one of the most oppressed communities in India. They also have something more valuable today: votes. With UP going to polls in a couple of months, with the largest minority determining who is going to be the next Chief Minister of the largest Indian state, Rushdie’s visit is a fly in the ointment.Well, actually not, it is manna from the Heaven. By preventing his visit, we can win some brownie points from the most oppressed community. Those jobless people screaming about freedom won’t last more than a week. After all, who is talking about Tasleema Nasreen now? Or M FHusain? Or that book from Rohinton Mistry that was banned from Bombay University? These ‘freedom lovers’ will cry for some time and then go back to their day jobs.

If we allow these people some room, they will become uncontrollable. Look what happened to the Internet. Anybody can write any junk. Look at Sonia Gandhi: how much she has sacrificed for our country. Instead of lauding this beloved leader, the netizens are denouncing her by caricaturing in the most offensive way.

That’s why even our courts are agitated. ‘We should learn from China,’ one of the judges roared at Google and Facebook. ‘On how to censor the Web.’ Well said! There is not a single country in comparison to China, so our court’s example is the most apt to be followed. I’m sure our leaders and governments will be happy to learn from China.

In China you cannot google anything; because there is no Google. Instead of helping the Chinese government with their censorship requests, Google decided to pack their bags and leave the country. The nerve! That itself should have sent the signals to our Indian government that Google is only interested in the offensive.So in China, you have to use their local search engine, Baidu. When you use Baidu,you can’t search the strings ‘Tianenmen Square’, ‘June 4’*, ‘Tibet Exile Government’, ‘Dalai Lama’, ‘Pro-Democracy protests’, etc. These search results will take you to unrelated pages. In China, you cannot read about the Great Leap Forward of 1959-62 when more than 40 million people were killed in a man-made famine caused by Mao Zedong. The English and Chinese Wikipedia pages related to these topics are blocked. The world-renowned painter and sculptor Ai Weiwei was arrested for writing and speaking against the government. Serves him right! Many more pro-democracy protesters go ‘missing’, never to be found again. Not even in the Web.

Yes,this is the kind of censorship we need. We should learn this from China. Our courts should direct our government to send an expert committee to China to learn how they implement this level of censorship, because Google and Facebook keep offering lame excuses such as Web being vast and human intervention being impossible. Then how does China do it?

The Supreme Court should ban Google in India and invite Baidu to set up their servers. Like China have their favourite keywords, we too have many, all of which should be blocked. Undoubtedly, Baidu will be more than happy to comply. They may not even have to write new code. They can use their existing programmes and simply replace the keywords. I can give my suggestions but I’m sure there’ll be more. These are the nasty, irritants to our society.

My suggestions:
  • Commonwealth Games
  • 2G Spectrum
  • Adarsh Building Society
  • Bofors
  • Ottavio Quattrocchi
  • Robert Vadra’s businesses
  • Robert Vadra’s family problems
  • Anti-Sikh riots of Delhi
  • Gujarat Pogrom
  • Yediyurappa & Reddy Brothers
  • Illegal mining in Bellary
  • RSS and Bajrang Dal connection
  • Anna Hazare
  • Satanic Verses
  • MF Husain’s Hindu gods’ series
  • Arundhati Roy

Let us learn from China and arrest those who violate the codes. China ran tanks over their students. Let us do the same thing for anyone who dares to offend anyone else. If Salman Rushdie comes to India, he should be arrested. We can perhaps hang him. Or what does China do? Do they have electric chairs? Then we can perhaps import some chairs, no, we may need hundreds of chairs. As a symbolism, let us arrest Arundhati Roy, because she is already in India, and like Ai Weiwei she is well known, so it will become international news. The Guardian from London and The Washington Post will cry hoarse. Good.

Let the world know that we’re a good student of China. Let it be a warning to all future Rushdies and Husains. 

* – June 4th 1989 is the day the massacre of Tianenmen Square took place where the army ran tanks over their own, peacefully protesting, citizens (students).