The Free Voice by Ravish Kumar is a compilation of thoughts on issues ranging from News, Democracy, Society, Culture, History and Love! Ravish is working with NDTV and hosts the Hindi Prime Time show.

The Free Voice

Some points come forth as strong political views which I have not incorporated in the summary to maintain an apolitical stand & focus only on objective learning that can be driven from the amazingly well put together thoughts. Below is my interpretation of the book –

  • Fake News
    1. Fake news is a tool that “Power” uses to transport citizens to an alternative reality, forgetting real problems and confronting manufactured worries of a national scale
    2. To fight fake news means to wage a struggle against oneself and to work very hard for information at all times. Very few manage to do this
    3. Indian EC defines paid news as “any news or analysis appearing in media for a price in cash or kind or consideration – But it has now grown beyond advertisements masquerading as news. France, EU had put together a task force to combat fake news during elections

This is now a big global problem with the reach & frightening speed of spreading “news” on social media platforms. Nowadays all it takes for anything to be termed as news is to format the article/information/viewpoint. In my opinion, imposing strict penalty is also not a solution to this but removing the SOA (Schedule of Authority) conflict by separating the Process Owners (News houses/journalists) & Process Controllers (Political parties/Corporate houses with strong political affiliations). Tough to implement but imposing penalties will only increase the pressure on the already overburdened Judiciary.

  • Democracy & Society
    1. The rich and powerful use the law of defamation without compunction. How many have the strength to withstand the threat of a 100cr defamation suit? This gives them immunity against legitimate questions. (Read Hitler’s views on this here. Refer point 13)
    2. The social sanction for speaking out is lessening. The mob is greater even than the constitution. The act of questioning the government can make you a minority (second class citizen) too!
    3. Have your affiliations but the task of demanding answers with impartiality and without prejudice, is yours, and overrides any obligation to any organisation. Being an objector is no crime!
    4. To have faith is a good thing, no doubt. But that faith should rest on the foundation of facts, not emotions!

This is a highly subjective issue. I believe there is a very high degree of polarisation today on political front with social media adding fuel to fire) & leave it to your own perceptions.

  • History
    1. The Troll, the Bhakt (no political affiliations here. Bhakt is anyone who follows anyone blindly) and the News Anchors are new historians. Most of them latched on to the notion that some great man in history has been ignored and not given his due.
    2. The moment we start thinking what is happening, enter Chanakya on WhatsApp. Almost anything (history, war, statecraft, politics) goes in his name. It also has a predictable pattern – wherever there is an election, it makes its presence felt.
    3. Germans are taught how to deal with their history. We have not educated our citizens on ways to negotiate history.
    4. A politician’s biggest anxiety- history is replete with tyrants who perished in the end!

History must only be used as a learning material. There is no point debating it or even worse, putting resources in changing it (History is anyways the most widely accepted perception. That is how our brains work). Renaming roads/towns is a huge admin cost! Businesses spend a lot of resources glorifying past initiatives which may not have made any economic sense/failures. Instead, it is better to admit failure, deal with it & give the comfort that the future is going to be better (Just like the Germans)

  • Culture
    1. Rich and middle class people have thrown up Babas too. Not only poor. The only difference is that they speak in English and peddle aloe Vera juice
    2. Hitlers’ own obsession became the people’s obsession. Hitler himself had to do nothing. All Hitler and his govt needed to do do was allow people to act as they pleased. When the mob creates its own empire, evil principles begin to rule hearts and minds
    3. Propaganda has only one purpose- creation of a mob

Being a part of mob in the name of culture is perhaps the worst degradation of the society as a whole. This is not just limited to the poor.

  • Love
    1. In our country most people only love in their imagination. To love is to battle with innumerable structures imposed by society and religion
    2. Honour killing is a cocktail made of prejudice, hate and misogyny to which colour red is contributed by religion, caste, father or brother as the occasion may demand

Despite the many challenges posed by “Culture/Society” & the lack of infrastructure to support lovers meeting, it is commendable that people are willing to pursue love in our country. Love is such a strong emotion J

Something for us to ponder over as part of the “Largest Democracy on the planet” –

Supreme Court judgement – the refrain that the poor need no civil and political rights and are concerned only with economic well-being has been utilised through history to wreck the most egregious violations of human rights. Above all, it must be realised that it is the right to question, the right to scrutinise and the right to dissent which enables an informed citizenry to scrutinise the actions of government. Those who are governed are entitled to question those who govern about the discharge of their constitutional duties

Do share your views/feedback in the comments section

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