Should We Ban The Intent Or The Content?

Indias-Daughter

India is one of the very few surviving democracies with such a huge and diverse population where Freedom of Speech/Expression is embedded in the culture. Obviously, this has been translated into reality in its constitution that was framed after independence in 1947. This freedom hardly served the artists/filmmakers within India filled with controversies right from the extent of protest against their work to a complete ban (needless to mention the vandalism of property of the artists). The uproar surrounding the documentary India’s Daughter comes as no surprise as India is known for its aversion towards anything that its polity/government is not comfortable with.

India’s Daughter stands apart for its intent rather than content with many questioning the prerogative of an outsider (British) to comment on India’s problem. It is further fuelled by its perceived stereotype of Indian males on the issue of patriarchy. When Mukesh Singh (rape accused of Nirbhaya’s case 2012) in the documentary says Girls are meant to stay at home and not to party or go out at night, without any slightest sign of remorse for the crime committed, even the conservative faction of the society is outraged. What is more worrying is the impression of India that ruins the reputation of NRIs affecting their normal life. For example, the recent case of a German professor refusing admission to an Indian student on the grounds of rape problems in India is atrocious.

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Of course, this was followed by a fitting reply by a German ambassador upholding the values of his country at the same time demolishing the prejudice of a professor.

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Staunch liberals of India who generally take a firm stand against the ban also went on to criticize the documentary for its providing undeserving attention to the rape accused and his lawyers—whose comments were even worse. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that BBC is known for publishing condescending news articles projecting an image about India that are far from reality. The following are some of the useless story headlines about India that have made it to BBC news for no reason but sensation:

“Snake charmer sparks office panic”

“Indian snake charmers ‘held photographer captive’”

“The cash machine with a free cobra”

“The bull whose semen is worth $3,000 a shot”

“Cow dung burning ban near Taj Mahal”

“India cow row settled by DNA tests’”

After reading these, I was wondering that the intention behind such headlines maybe is the key to unlock the world’s peace and prosperity. 🙂

There is no denial by Indians about the content of the documentary and its veracity, but the questions asked are, “Why is a rape accused the main focus of the documentary? Why does BBC malign India and its prospects through such works? Despite having one of the lowest rape per capita in the world (taking into account the unreported cases), why is India projected as the rape capital of the world?”

The Indian Government was also unintentionally baited into this issue creating a sensation through the ban. Indians would have probably just overlooked the documentary as yet another one from BBC if not for the undue publicity by its own government. Proponents of free speech including me are baffled about this on how to handle such works that are true but give rise to unpleasant consequences leading to the question, “Should we ban the intent or the content?” —maybe neither. Whatever it may be, it is disheartening to hear the stories of direct victims of the documentary.

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Leap of Faith

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I unbuttoned my suit. But wouldn’t that look too casual, if I go with an unbuttoned suit. I might come across as a passive guy. Oh, but closing both the buttons makes me look very uptight. And I’m anything but uptight, I never worry about small things. I know what I should do; I should just unbutton one of the buttons. Yeah that puts me in middle ground. I need tonight to be perfect. I need myself and everything else around me to be flawless. Should I call the hotel before I go in? I’ve already called them thrice, if I call them again the manager might slip something in the food out of anger. I’d better not call. I took out the box from the dashboard and slipped it into my suit’s inner pocket. I patted it twice for luck and went up the stairs to her house. I took a long deep breath and rung the bell. I waited a couple more minutes before ringing the bell again. I knew I would have to ring it again; she’s never ready on time. Just as I was about to place my thumb on the bell, I heard the door unlock.

I’ve read about love, about pure eternal love. I’ve heard about it in songs and I’ve seen it in those chick-flicks. But I had never really felt it until today. And it’s nothing like what they describe. I didn’t feel as if my feet had just been swept of the ground. Neither did I feel as if gravity had seized to exist. And the only thing churning in my stomach was sulfuric acid, there were no butterflies. No, I felt strong. I felt as if this is what keeps me on the ground. She keeps me here, she is what makes me stay, and live each day with the desire to live another. She doesn’t take away the ground below my feet, she makes me believe that I can stand on it more firmly than I ever have.

“Hey! What are you thinking, snap out of it.”

I winked at her and lend her my hand to help her climb down the stairs. If only I could ever put words to what I felt. I knew I never could, and she knew it too. Words were the only thing she took away from me. I was a restless and talkative man at other times. But when I was with her, all I wanted to do was to listen to her, to see her, observe the minute things that make her what she is. And today as she walked down those stairs with me, in her white dress, she made me understand why Poets, Singers, Writers and Artists try to define love. I went ahead and opened the car’s door for her. She took tiny steps when coming down the final few stairs, and it made my heart melt, for every smaller step meant that I had to wait more before she could be beside me. I adored her, as she descended down the stairs. Every layer of wind that cut across her face set each strand of her hair on a course of its own. And she didn’t seem to mind. But it wasn’t as if she looked like someone who doesn’t take care of herself. It came naturally to her. Her beauty was effortless.

“I’m surprised.”

I looked at her in fake denial. I hoped she didn’t know what I had planned for the night.
“Why are you surprised?”

“This is possibly the first time you didn’t ask me what my excuse is for making you wait”

“Well let’s just say I’m happy enough to have ignored that.” I shyly replied.

Her glistening white teeth smiled back at me. She was happy, she was happy to be with me. That’s the least I could do, I could keep her happy. I looked ahead on the road and a green signboard reminded me of the left turn that was to follow. I slowed down the car and looked for it. And just as I was about to turn back for having thought that I had missed it, a small cut in the road appeared out of nowhere. I took a sharp turn, for I was too excited to go back and turn slowly.

“Whoa! Slow down. Where are we going anyway?”

“Trust me. It’s a special place.”

She went ahead and kissed me on the cheek. It was her way of reminding me that I didn’t need to ask her to trust me. She just did. She leaned against the window pane and looked out at the lonely road that was ahead of us. I had wanted such an isolated place, and such a desolate drive, because I wanted tonight to be about just us. The place was perfect, but the journey was equally amazing. The road was narrow and was surrounded by huge majestic trees. I looked at one such tree, and realized how much it resembled every other tree. What made it different was not what was visible on the surface, it was what happened underneath, where its roots and the soil embroiled into an existence that lasted forever. Every tree was like a human, and the one i looked at, was still looking to partner with the soil. Maybe it will today. Right behind the trees the moon lit up in its pure magnificence and the landscape looked even more prepossessing under its moonlight; and so did she. I looked at her, gazing out the window, and I wanted to know what kept running around her mind when she was with me. I wanted to know what that incredible brain of hers’ thinks about all the time. But then again, I had all the time in the world to know, because she is going to be with me for the rest of my life. For tonight, I ask her to be mine.

She suddenly gasped and let out a shout. “Look out!”

As I had lost myself in her, I had forgotten about the road. I turned to face it and saw a man standing right in the middle of the road. I hit hard on the breaks; as hard as I could. The car shrieked under the constraint that was suddenly applied to it. It stopped, and had I been a moment late in stepping on the breaks, I would have killed that man today. The man moved away from the car and tried to protect his eyes from the bright headlights. I looked at him; he was an old man in ragged clothes. I needed to check if he was okay. I took out the key and unlocked the car. As I turned to open the door, a sudden thud on the car alerted me. A man had thrown himself on the back window. And then another thud, and then another. Three men were now pushing against the mirrors of the car. One of them unlocked the rear right door and got in. I froze in shock. But I knew what this was; I knew I had to protect her. I jumped on the guy who had slid into the back seat. I caught him by the collar and was about to punch him when I was pulled out the car by someone holding my legs. I twisted my neck to see who it was. It was the old man, and he did not look so helpless now. In-fact, he looked ugly, and evil. A crooked smile on his face reminded me of the most darkest and lifeless moments I have ever endured. I tried to fight back, to get my legs out of his grip. I bit at his hands and just when i had got myself free of his hold, I heard another thud. This one seemed close, very close. It felt as if someone had injected a stream of pain into my head. I touched it, and my fingers ran through blood; blood rushing out from the back of my head. And just then, I was hit again. This time the pain reciprocated. The pain was beyond what I could bear. But I had to get back to her; I had to protect her. I tried to get up, but my legs failed to respond. I tried and tried more, but they didn’t budge. I tried to punch them into life, but my hands felt powerless. The old man picked me up and hurled me into a nearby tree. I heard the box in my suit’s pocket fall somewhere on the ground. It contained the ring I was going to put on her finger as I asked her to marry me tonight. I wanted to spend the rest of my life keeping her happy, but here lay my body, with no potential to fulfill my promise. I turned to see, my vision now blinded by the weakness of the human body. Poets, Singers, Writers and Artists also write about heartbreak, and about feeling helpless in the face of love. And now I could understand what they meant, for in the last moments of my consciousness, I saw four men rip her clothes into pieces.