Issues

WORDS THAT SOOTHE, WORDS THAT HURT

 Neha Pal

 Aisi vaani boliye, man kaa aapa khoye,
 Auran ko sheetal kare, aaphu sheetal hoye.
- Kabir Das

A beautiful doha said by Kabir Das telling us about the beauty and importance of the word (vaani). Suppose a man has a bungalow, a car, money, name and fame. keeping in mind these things can anyone predict that he will be morally good too? I think the answer will be a “no”. An individual’s word describes and shows the goodness and evil within him/her, but not the dressing, name, fame or money. Sweet words have the power to stop the biggest war. The person who shows hatred in his speech is always broken down. Such individuals are dangerous for themselves as well as for society. Before reaching any conclusion, let us ponder whether stinging words have the ability to bring disaster? Le us look at the world. 

“A word is a letter or group of letters that have meaning when spoken or written. Meaning which can be constructive or destructive. It’s a shame that now a days hate speech is the order of the day. Hate speech can trigger a genocide or holocaust. History is a witness to riots and massacres that were caused by hate speech. Ironically, in the name of “freedom of speech and expression” anyone can say anything even if it hurts sentiments of a community or group of people. Statement against a community, religion, caste, or gender doesn’t promote human dignity. Humanity always survives under “live and let live” principle. In India, freedom of speech and expression is protected under article19 (1) of the constitution of India, but under article 19(2) reasonable restrictions can be imposed on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court defamation or incitement to offence. There is a law in India on hate speech, but is it enough and strong to stop the holocaust?  There is law in the books, but not in the implementation. Till the Independence there were thousands of communal riots, most of them caused by hate speech. In India rarely an individual is imprisoned due to his or her hate speech. If we compare our country and our law with other countries’ laws then we will get to know problems and lacunas in our laws. The International Covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR) states that any advocacy of racial or religious hate that constitute incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law. In Brazil, according to the 1988 Brazilian Constitution, racism and other forms of race-related hate speech are “crimes with no right to bail to its accused”. In Canada, advocating genocide and inciting hate against any identifiable group are indictable offences under the criminal code with maximum prison terms of two to fourteen years. It makes exceptions for cases of statement of truth, and subject of public debate and religious doctrine. Another instance is that of Chile’s article 31 of the statute on freedom of opinion and information and the performance of journalism, which punishes with a high fine those who through any means of social communication make publications or transmission intended to promote hatred or hostility towards a person or group of persons due to their race, gender, religion or nationality. Similarly there are many more countries which have made strict laws and there implications against harmful speech.

Many politicians deliver unwanted speeches and spread fear in society only for the sake of their bread and butter. Hate speech by leaders like Amit Shah, Asaduddin Owaisi, Narendra Modi, Raj Thackrey, Balasaheb Thackrey, Parveen Togadia, V.K. Singh, Rijiju, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Sadhvi Prachi, Aditya Nath, Sakshi Maharaj etc. These people give speeches against a particular community, against a particular religion, against a particular group and have created destructive environment in the country. Recently, the dog-Dalit analogy by V.K. Singh gained notoriety in media. Similar kind of dog statement was given by Narendra Modi on Gujarat riots. Balasaheb Thackrey, politician who issued statements against Anna and people from UP. These statements and speeches are responsible for unwanted and destructive environment within the country. Are these comments not anti-national? Are these statements not breaking the sovereignty and integrity of India? If yes, then why strict action is not taken against such elements?

Common people of the country don’t mind differences of religion, caste and community. While eating in a hotel a common Indian doesn’t think about who is seated next to him. Is he Hindu or a Muslim, or a Dalit? A critical patient who needs blood doesn’t think to which community the blood donor belongs. A common Indian is not concerned about the religion of the person who travels with him, walks with him, shares things with him. They think about better education, better living standards, happy and healthy environment. But due to the filth of politics and hate speech the atmosphere is vitiated. It has created a charm among common people which can’t be filled easily.

We have to ask ourselves as to what kind of environment we want to give to our next generation? The whole world has moved to a better stage of life but we abuse each other, make hate speech. To spread love and a healthy environment politicians, media and common folk have to play a great role. Laws should be strict with destructive elements misusing the freedom of speech and expression. In a speech people should use such words that eliminate the ego. Building ego takes energy from the body and pulls it in the dark. In your speech, use such words that bring peace and happiness to listeners’ mind. I would like to end it with the great song of a Raj Kapoor’s, “Ek din bik jayega maati ke mol / Jag me rah jayenge pyare tere bol”.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 January 2016 on page no. 2

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