Not really. But the week that just passed by gave a spectre of what it could be like. Everyone, irrespective of position, content or purpose had his thirty seconds of media sunshine to utter his golden words. No theme showed coherence, no dialogue stretched far enough to take a form of a discussion.
The simple question is, will a citizen empowered to exercise his freedom of speech have to wait till the other has done with his own? Will one have to queue up to speak his rights, before others him have expressed their views to satisfaction.
Will It be like a plane taxying till the runway, waiting for permission to move on, and take its flight, once the previous one has cleared the path after a take-off!
It happened at the beginning of the week, during the transfer of power in the world’s most celebrated Democracy. Strictly focusing on the democratic rights, the out going incumbent exercised is rights to hold to his powers and chair till less than a minute before they were to elapse.
It was within his rights to give as many opinions and beliefs that he actually won on his journey back to his resort. Impeachment, Senate actions, are a different matter! The new installation team had to wait till the minute when the world’s most expensive Air Force One was released.
The First Amendment allowed him the liberty, that he shall be watching and monitoring. That he shall return, though too aloof in circumstance, from the famous words of Gen Mc Arthur, as he was asked to retreat from Philippines In the Pacific Theatre of WWII.
Not that such circumstances were not envisaged in the formation of a Constitutional structure and practices. The “filibuster” practice of the Senate allows a member to continue an endless dialogue till the end of the session. The Obamacare, and presently the Universal Healthcare Act, was done in in this manner, subsequently leading to a national lockdown. To ensure an unending monologue one can use any material to read aloud, right from chapters from Jeffrey Archer, Macbeth, but what are endless and handy are recipe books of how to make the best cakes, confectionaries, for a change chicken tikka masala!
The other great Democracy, has two Houses, necessities of attendance. So, the methods are “walkouts”. Boycott of a session, dharmas. Beyond that in the fight for the chair, there is ample furniture to throw around. Sessions can be suspended. In environs that formulate laws for the nation, there are no provisions for FIRs.
No one imagined that the right to consent would be an ingredient in dispensing Covid vaccines, where the demand was overwhelming, almost to the extent of gate-crashing! The initial take-off went off beyond expectations. Every scientific protocol was followed, more than usual dry runs were done. Blame it on the circumstances, rumour-mongering, messages in unregulated press, or whatever
Thankfully, there has been a revival in the turnout of late, but not without extra influence by doctors, organ transplant recipients, not to mention that the inaugural shot taken by the director of the apex medical institute of the nation—AIIMS.
The instincts of fear and unknown harm can only be overwhelmed by the fear-prof polish of persistent reason.
The endless farmer’s stir, the Re-public Day rally are fallouts of preserving freedom of speech with huge expenses on either side. Leaving the deadlock and its discussion for a different platform, the government has played a mature role in not hampering their right to protest, whichever way they design to proceed with it.
Besides, a select committee of agriculture scientists has been set-up by the Hon’ble CJI of India.
Camping sites have been allotted, on the periphery. There must be some compromise in the rights to freedom, of those living there to go to work, drop children to school, shop groceries. They bought land beyond their pockets to have their free abode. There is a case of one waiting to fulfil his right, before the previous one is done with!
Group to group friction can’t be erased completely. Agitations of some sort or the other shall continue.
In better times there should be a legislation that one group’s right to free speech, affects the other the least, and substantial, almost incalculable damage to the system and economy is protected.
“The great moral teachers of humanity were, in a way, artistic geniuses in the art of living.” Albert Einstein
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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