By Manish Modi

Do bans have a place in a democracy? Especially in a secular democratic republic like India? Bans only provide a stage for macho posturing and blatant bullying, which in any case happens frequently enough on its own. Why give the bullies another excuse?

Good governance means taking care of law and order and making sure that the entire populace has access to clean, potable and plentiful water, enough food, sufficient clothing and appropriate shelter, providing free education and healthcare, and low cost public transport across the nation. And yes, taking care of the internal and external security of the nation, providing and maintaining civic amenities and ensuring that everyone enjoys the basic freedoms and fundamental rights that naturally accrue to the citizens of a democratic secular sovereign nation.

Beyond that, the government should not interfere in what its citizens choose to eat or whether they choose to eat or not; what they drink, whether they choose to drink or not; whom they worship, if at all they worship; whether they have sex or choose to abstain from it; which cinema they see; what books they read and what music they listen to. No bans, please. Let the people decide for themselves! As long as the people are not breaking the law, they should be able to live their lives peacefully. No bans, please.

I do not think there is a place for bans in a democracy.

There should be no bans on books. Or websites. Or plays or cinemas. Let the people decide for themselves what they wish to see, read or listen to. And let there be no ban on language. Or culture. Or creative expression of any sort. No bans, please.

Why should the government interfere, other than to ensure that people are not trampling on the rights of others?

Religion should be practised at home. Not on the streets. Faith is the inner flowering of deep commitment towards a certain noble goal. Here is my understanding of श्रद्धा shraddha.

श्रत्= सत्य, आस्था
श्रत्+ दधाति = श्रद्धा (परम सत्य को धारण करना अथवा परम सत्य को धारण करने
के लायक सूक्ष्म प्रज्ञा रखना)

Shraddha is the refined ability or intellectual capacity or deep subtle intellect that allows one to perceive the ultimate/transcendental reality of the universe.

There should be no selective banning either. It is unfair to ban things offensive to one group but not offensive to another. Let us put a stop to banning altogether.

Therefore, if someone chooses the path of samaadhi marana/santhara, let him/her do it. If someone chooses to practise brahmacarya, let him/her practise it. If someone chooses to become a film star or a rock star, let him become. And if someone decides to become an ascetic, let him/her do it. No bans, please.

The only proviso I would like to attach to this is that the Government has to see to the law and order situation in the country. Our freedom should not impinge on the rights of others. The other side of banning is imposition. The elected government of a secular sovereign democracy cannot, must not and should not permit the imposition of a culture, a religion, a belief system, a way of life, a language, an ideology or a worldview on others. No impositions, please.

Live and let live. Those who wish to practise compassion may do so. But those who do not wish to do so, should not be bullied or compelled to practise compassion.

We are deeply fortunate to live in a great nation which has secularism, multiculturalism and pluralism in its DNA. Let us not undermine it by imposing arbitrary bans the moment we come across beliefs, opinions and practices contrary to our own!

No bans and no imposition please.

We are free citizens in a free country. We have the right to choose for ourselves.

Manish Modi is an educator, publisher and fourth-generation Proprietor of the Hindi Granth Karyalay, established in 1912, in Mumbai.

2 thoughts on “Is there is a place for bans in a democracy?

  1. “The only proviso I would like to attach to this is that the Government has to see to the law and order situation in the country. Our freedom should not impinge on the rights of others”- well said Manish Modiji!! This proviso clinched the issue of absolute “ freedom of speech and action” in a democracy!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *