ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: The Unquiet Indian

Vol XV, No 26, june 29, 1963
a calcutta diary

The usually unexacting readership of the Indian Press little realises how many crucial subjects are now beyond the pale of free and open discussion. (It is an offence even to refer to specifi c restrictions.) The Sino-Indian border is the source of most of the country’s current troubles. Yet Parliament has by law forbidden any discussion on the all-important border by any Indian except of lines laid down by the Government. The Prime Minister sensibly speaks of negotiations with the Chinese, on honourable terms, which presupposes that the border is “negotiable”. What constitutes “honourable terms”? On what lines may the border be fl exible? None of these questions can be discussed, which means that the Government has through the constraints on discussion deprived itself of the advice and guidance it might have got from public opinion and the Press. A democratic Government needs such advice and guidance.

The only two institutions which remain free are Parliament and Acharya Vinoba Bhave. Parliament is privileged. And, in disregard of the Defence of India Rules, the Acharya has said several things which none else could have said and got away with. He praised the Chinese for the cease-fi re. He spoke of the need for a sense of proportion in increasing India’s armed strength. He mentioned the consequences, economic and other, of an indefi nite war. It is possible to disagree with the Acharya on each of these counts; but that at least one man should be left free to air such points of view is perhaps the only evidence that China has not succeeded in abolishing all freedoms for the duration. This could be a tribute to Nehru.

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