Free Speech, Right To Dissent & Healthy Debates In Universities Are Important: President Pranab Mukherjee
“There should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian. India has been, since ancient times a bastion of free speech, thought, and expression” said the President of India Pranab Mukherjee while speaking at the 6th KS Rajamony Memorial Lecture in Kochi, Kerala.
He also said that students in the Indian Universities must engage in reasonable debates and discussions rather than be propagating a culture of unrest as it is tragic to see students trapped in a vicious circle of violence and disquiet.
Though throughout the speech the President did not mention anything about the Ramjas College row, he asserted on the freedom of expression and speech guaranteed to every citizen by the constitution.
Referring to the hounding of the Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur for speaking up against Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Pranab Mukherjee said that the litmus test for society is how it treats women and children.
He also addressed politicians in India saying that they should not take the people for granted and instead listen to and engage with them, learn from them and respond to their concerns and needs. He stressed on the need for collective efforts.
As debates surrounding the importance of freedom of expression and speech continue to heat up in the country, President Pranab Mukherjee has portrayed the importance of free speech. The speech is more prescient as going with the violence that erupted in Ramjas College of New Delhi, the students took to streets and protested vehemently.
Many people in the country have voiced their opinion on this matter, but the speech by the President has reinforced their belief in the system again.
Freedom of speech
It is a right to articulate one’s ideas and opinions without the fear of censorship or government retaliation. The Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees the Freedom of Speech and Expression as one of its six freedoms.
You can read the full text of the speech here.