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.
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.