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

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Freedom, Power and Truth

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India once again finds itself at the crossroads where, at one end, winners of the recent Lok Sabha elections are busy celebrating the grand success of electoral democracy, and, at the other, civil society’s freedom to think and communicate both the noble and tragic truth has been severely constrained by the conditions of unfreedom that prevail under the very “presence” of democracy. The transformative relationship between power and freedom that defines the prospect of “truth-telling” has taken a regressive and, in fact, a contradictory turn. The benign combination of power and freedom that has been historically expressed through the subaltern struggle for emancipation is being increasingly replaced by efforts that combine these two elements, not for transformative purposes, but for a repressive homogenisation of plural value systems. The freedom to fashion a plural India through the use of powers of creative imagination has been destructively interjected with aggressive impulses such as fear, hatred, and oppression. These impulses, in a regressive sense, constitute the essence of truth, thus making it quite coercive.

When power and freedom take a regressive turn, this necessarily plays out in a deadly combination and, by implication, tends to produce a destructive impact on vulnerable groups. Those involved in violence against the tormented social sections of Indian society not only feel free, but also socially powerful to inflict deep injuries on these vulnerable sections. Such a deadly combination of freedom and power was evident in the incident where four Dalit youths were publicly flogged in Una, Gujarat in 2016. Lynching of minority persons in India continues unabated. The unfortunate suicide by a doubly disadvantaged doctor in a prominent public hospital in Mumbai is a recent addition to the series of suicides by Dalit and Adivasi students in institutions of higher learning, particularly medical colleges. Political power usually divides when it unofficially offers a performative space for the coercive truth, which not only immediately silences its critiques but tends to dance over the life of the vulnerable. These are some of the examples that show the manifestation of truth in its coercive form. Truth that resides in coercion shows no tolerance for democratic dissent; it, in fact, exhibits active contempt towards deliberation and argument as it does not admit debate. Neither does it listen to its inner voice (of the soul).

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Updated On : 14th Jun, 2019

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