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Censorship and Intolerance in India

Rajeev Dhavan

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The essays collected in this volume explore the relationship between political and social censorship, and, more significantly, the rise of an insidious communal censorship that seeks to divide civil society and intimidate all those who value the gift of self-expression. They show how the forces of censorship in our society use lumpen power to threaten this gift of free speech as they burn books, silence dissent, destroy works of art, and intimidate the artist, researcher, writer, film-maker, actor and free thinker.

The author reflects on how free speech in India has been compromised by state censorship through 'slapp' suits in court, and on issues of official secrecy, contempt of court, and censorship by intolerance in civil society and government. More specifically, he examines the uses and abuses of the law, the case of harassing Husain, the Danish 'Toon' controversy and the right to strike.

The author argues, unrepentantly, that free speech has to be preserved in the overcrowded spaces of the media, on the streets and in the open spaces of our mind, against the onslaught of corporatism, doubtful governance and invidious divisiveness. Freedom of the mind and the right to self-expression and argument can only survive if intolerance is met with tolerance, and tolerance is not seen as weakness.

Rajeev Dhavan

Rajeev Dhavan was educated in Allahabad, Cambridge and London. He has taught at various universities, written several books and articles, and is now a senior advocate practising in the Supreme Court of India, having participated in some of the many campaigns described in this volume.