Daily Current Affairs 23 September 2023

Restrictions on Free Speech

Context: The INDIA bloc recently announced that it would boycott 14 television news anchors as it did not did not want to legitimise a “hate-filled narrative.” 


  • Censorship, a term referring to the official prohibition or restriction of various forms of expression, such as films, books, and television, has remained a contentious issue in democracies worldwide. Its purpose is to safeguard the political, social, and moral order, and it can be enforced by both local and national governmental authorities.
  • In liberal democracies, censorship often clashes with the cherished principles of freedom of speech, expression, and access to information. While denying these freedoms, censorship is also justified on grounds ranging from political concerns, like sedition and national security, to religious matters, such as blasphemy, and moral issues, like obscenity. Additionally, it can play a role in maintaining social order.

Legal Provisions for Restrictions on Free Speech

  • The current framework for censorship includes constitutional provisions, such as Article 19(2) allowing for reasonable restrictions and Article 359 allowing the suspension of Article 19 during emergencies. 
  • Institutional and legislative frameworks like the IT Act 2000 and IT Rules, along with bodies like the Central Board of Film Certifications (CBFC) and the Press Council of India, also play a role in regulating censorship. 
  • Various legal provisions, such as Section 95 of CrPC, Section 124A for sedition, and Sec 292 for obscenity, contribute to the overall regulatory landscape.

Reasons supporting the need for censorship in society and the nation as a whole

  • Safeguarding Sovereignty and Security: Censorship can act as a preventive measure against terrorism and other potential threats.
  • Guaranteeing Personal Liberty: It restricts harmful activities like cyberbullying, trolling, and defamation, thereby protecting individuals’ rights.
  • Limiting the Spread of Misinformation: By controlling the dissemination of fake news, censorship can help uphold the truth and protect the public from deception.
  • Preventing Religious and Ethnic Violence: Hate speech, which is often politically sensitive, can be controlled through censorship to prevent the incitement of violence or social unrest.
  • Protecting Children from Harmful Content: Censorship can shield young minds from exposure to psychologically damaging material.
  • Fostering Social Solidarity: By avoiding insults to shared values, censorship aims to promote a cohesive society.

However, censorship brings forth several prevalent issues

  • Threat to Democracy: Censorship may discourage dissent and curtail open discourse, posing risks to democratic principles.
  • Curtailment of Freedom of Information: Citizens may be deprived of access to essential information due to excessive censorship.
  • Self-Censorship: The fear of censorship may lead to individuals and media outlets restraining their expressions, leading to a chilling effect on free speech.
  • Limiting Creativity and Autonomy: Stricter censorship can hinder artistic freedom and personal autonomy.
  • Intolerance towards New Ideas: An environment of censorship can foster intolerance towards innovative and unconventional thoughts.
  • Suppression of Marginalised Voices: Censorship might silence the voices of marginalised groups, further exacerbating societal inequalities.
  • Implementation Challenges: There are several implementation challenges associated with censorship, including the lack of objective boundaries, potential for misuse, over-regulation, and abuse.

To move forward

some constructive steps can be taken

  • Encouraging Self-Regulation: Involving civil society representation can aid in fostering responsible self-regulation.
  • Empowering Citizens’ Choices: Allowing citizens to decide and consume content, possibly through content warnings, can strike a balance between freedom and responsibility.
  • Promoting Media Education: Providing professional media education and codifying media laws can enhance media responsibility.
  • Limiting State Censorship Power: Ensuring that censorship measures are proportionate and restrained can prevent excessive interference.
  • Objective Standards for Harm Prevention: Censorship should primarily address instances of actual harm based on clear and objective criteria.
  • Non-Punitive Approaches: Adopting proactive steps, such as public education and encouraging diversity, can be more effective than punitive measures in addressing hate speech.

In conclusion, censorship presents a multifaceted dilemma, as it seeks to maintain order and security while also safeguarding fundamental freedoms. Striking the right balance between these objectives requires thoughtful deliberation and measures that uphold democratic principles without compromising societal well-being.

Mains PYQ 2014: What do you understand about the concept “freedom of speech and expression”? Does it cover hate speech also? Why do the films in India stand on a slightly different plane from other forms of expression? Discuss.

Adi Shankara status unveiled in Madhya Pradesh

Context: A 108-foot statue of 8th century spiritual leader Adi Shankara was unveiled recently in Madhya Pradesh’s Omkareshwar. The statue of Openness depicts Shankaracharya as a 12-year old child when he is known to visit the Omkareshwar in Khandwa District.

Adi Shankara

  • He was also known as Shankaracharya.
  • Born in Kaladi, Kerala in 788 CE.
  • Propounded the Doctrine of Advaita (Monism) and wrote many commentaries on the Vedic canon (Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita) in Sanskrit.
  • His major works included Brahmasutrabhasya (Bhashya or commentary on the Brahma Sutra), Bhajagovinda Stotra and Nirvana Shatakam.
  • He was responsible to revive Hindu philosophy at a time when Buddhism was gaining momentum in India.
  • He is said to have established four Mathas (Hindu Monastaries) at Shingeri, Puri, Dwaraka and
  • Badrinath– for propagation of Sanathana Dharma in four corners of India.
  • Adi Shankaracharya was opposed to Buddhist philosophers.
  • Philosophy of Adi Shankara is part of Vedanta (One of the six schools of Aastik Hindu Philosophy).

Advaita Philosophy

  • Advaita Vedanta refers to the non-dualistic school of Hindu philosophy, which is derived mostly from the Upanishads and elaborated in detail by eminent scholars like Gaudapada and Sri Adi Shankaracharya.
  • Dvaita means duality, and Advaita means nonduality. In simple terms, Advaita means absence of the duality between subject and object.

About Omkareshwar Temple:

  • Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is on an island called Mandhata, near Khandwa city in the Narmada river at Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, India. It is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva; the shape of the island is said to be like the Devanagari ॐ symbol.
  • There are two main temples of Shiva here, one to Omkareshwar (whose name means “Lord of Omkara or the Lord of the Om sound”) located in the island and one to Mamleshwar (Amaleshwar) (whose name means “Immortal Lord” or “lord of the Immortals or Devas”) located on the southern bank of the Narmada River on the mainland.
  • Madhya Pradesh has two Jyotirlingas, the second one, Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, is situated about 140 km north of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga.
  • Other Ten Jyotirlinga: are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, in Uttrakhand state, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar near Nashik in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Temple, Vaidyanath in Jharkhand, Nageshwar at Dwarika in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar near Aurangabad, Maharashtra in Maharashtra. 
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