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Freedom and Privileges for Individuals and Media, Part 1

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The last few weeks have been exciting for the international and Indian media for two factors.  First, for the revelations by the whistlerblower website wikileaks of the classified as well as unclassified documents and conversations between the US Department of State and various US embassies in countries across the globe and the subsequent threat that the revelations may cover unethical practices of corporate sector as well. Secondly, for the Indian entrepreneur and the TATA group chairman Rattan Tata’s petition before the Supreme court of India in the background of the leakage of the conversations taped by the government departments concerning the 2g spectrum scam, to get it upheld by the apex court that it was the violation of his fundamental rights as an individual to privacy, as guaranteed by the constitution of India, that they raise some questions in the context of the freedom,  rights and the duties of the individual, over how authoritative  the state can be in curbing them on the basis of national security, official secrecy and the institutional existence of the state.

Taking into consideration that these two countries, the Republic of India and the United States of America even though they claim  to be democratic and liberal, and consider themselves to be superior to  alleged totalitarian and inhumane regimes under the hypothesis that “whenever there is a conflict between the interest of an individual and that of a group, the interests of the individual take natural precedence,” the debate over these two events has to be treated with utmost care in the perceptions of the evolution of these two societies and the states attached to them as institutions in the course of history.

Although this issue has has already been discussed at length, it remains relevant so long as  individuals or the group(s) that individuals belong to assert their rights, and the state or its branches continue to assert the power to limit these individual rights in emphasizing its privilege for the sake of its own existence.  Hopefully this conflict of interest will not lead to hysteria on either side.

As the eminent Indian journalist BG Varghese pointed out in his recent book “First Draft: Witness to Making of Modern India”, The Indian constitution as it came into being on January 26th of 1950 embraced all the values and respect that a human being deserved without much massive social movements after its independence but with peaceful debates, which is contrary to the fact that the individual human dignity and human equality that the current US constitution proclaims were in fact accomplished with so many passages, militarily and peacefully, from the time of Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King, spanning more or less over a century.

But that the Indian constitution and its framers were overwhelmingly influenced by the western concept of humanism probably for the colonial legacy, makes it significant to take into account these two countries and their constitutional systems, along with the seeds which have planted the roots of these systems for further discussion on subjects those can have substantial influence on the legal, philosophical and intellectual thought and on the magnitude of the power of state over individual rights and freedom.

This author believes in the theory that “freedom is absolute” as an individual is concerned and at the same time accepts that this “absolute freedom” of the individual has its own provisions and that, it shall not be an obstacle to the collective rights of a group, whether it be of society, of state or of humanity, or an obstruction to the peaceful proliferation of an ideology, whether it be of religion, of nationalism or of rebellion, or an objection to the natural privileges of another entity, whether it be of individual, of groups or of an ideologue.

The preceding theory on freedom and privileges clearly accentuates the famous adage “Your freedom ends where my nose begins” which gently affirms the right of the self in its maximum, clearly avowed the might of the state in its minimum and furiously augmented the various individual gathering movements across Europe that has evolved that continent placing itself in the medium of the dignity of the self and the authority of the state, the theory, the impact of which has extended to the present and which will expand to the future, shivering all the authoritarian regimes of the earth, delivering hope of a new dawn for masses oppressed by them.

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About Dileep Yogi