INDIA UPDATE

Many physicists today postulate the existence of multiple universes, even when sober. We used to live in a world of infinite possibilities. Now we live in an infinite number of worlds. India shines. Democracy thrives. The economy booms. A hundred flyovers bloom. This is not that India. If you see your picture here one day, don’t worry. That’s not you.

KNOW YOUR LAWS : SEDITION (1898)


The Sedition Law was a gift from the British government of India to the Indian government of India. Early one morning, just before Independence, the two of them were sitting on the verandah of the Governor-General’s bungalow sipping morning tea, when the Indian government gently touched the British government’s hand and shyly asked, “Can I keep this Sedition Law, then?”, and the British government said “Sure,” and since then, all of us have had to be very, very careful.

The Sedition Law gives you guidelines regarding how you should feel about the government, and warns you against crimes such as disloyalty and disaffection. Before he became Pakistani, Mohamed Ali Jinnah once sought a clarification on this. While defending Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1916, he asked the judge, “What exactly is disaffection?” “Absence of affection,” the judge promptly replied. This means that if you do not love the government, you could be put in jail.

Shameless twisters of the truth often claim that the Sedition Law has not changed since 1898, but this is not true.

a)   The Law was, in fact, revised in 1950. The words ‘Her Majesty’ were omitted.

b)   In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi was sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment for ‘being rude to the British.’ In 2010, Dr Binayak Sen was sentenced to life imprisonment for ‘resembling a communist.’ This shows that the government now needs much, much more love than it used to.

What can the average citizen do to avoid life imprisonment? There are no easy answers to this question. Recent offences have included objection to nuclear radiation (Tamil Nadu, 2011), not wanting to study in private universities (Haryana, 2010), resisting mining activities (Chattisgarh, weekly), possession of paper, gum and paint (Haryana, 2009), and singing (Jharkhand, 2009).

Your best bet would be to keep a large photograph of your local MP or MLA on your bedside table. Every morning, as soon as you wake up, spend ten minutes looking at it with genuine love. Don’t try to fake it. Feel it from the heart. And whatever you do, don’t buy paper, gum, or paint.

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6 comments on “KNOW YOUR LAWS : SEDITION (1898)

  1. umashankar
    August 5, 2012

    Hey, I was glued to the screen in deference to your writing, so you cannot stick a sedition charge here! As for showering “genuine love” to a “large photograph of your local MP or MLA”, I feel inclined to quote Dante”

    Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
    To rear me was the task of power divine,
    Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

    Before me things create were none, save things
    Eternal, and eternal I endure.
    All hope abandon ye who enter here.

    • shovonc
      August 6, 2012

      It’s hard not to feel that way. But we gotta fight!

  2. Shitij Bagga
    August 6, 2012

    Very nice blog, Sir. Reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984: A Novel. Have you read it? If not, read it now. It is a very important book related to “Loving your Government” and how that love should be exhibited every morning after you get up, during your day at work and every night before you go to bed otherwise you can be charged with sedition by a government that “loves” you but only wants what is best for you.

    • shovonc
      August 7, 2012

      Thanks a ton. And yep, I have read Orwell, including 1984. Kapil Sibal probably thinks it’s a textbook.

  3. Dee
    December 28, 2012

    A certain politician passed away of natural causes recently, just a day before the scheduled little public interest event at our organisation. When loyal followers of the said politician went about shutting shops and restaurants in the city the evening of his death, we were wondering whether to call off our little gig. Then one of us had a little spark – we quickly printed out A2-sized photographs of the deceased on our color printer with the words “bhavapoorna shraddhanjali” at the bottom and pasted them at the entrance of the venue and proceeded with the event as planned.
    Yes, we’re that affectionate.

    • shovonc
      December 28, 2012

      Thanks for the tip. Bound to be useful.

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