Censorship is a term that’s become quite common in India. More than tying it up to a sort of entrenched political environment, it’s crucial to understand the limits of censorship, where it intervenes and what sort of denial of information is right keeping in mind ‘sanctity of the collective conscience’ of a group or nation as a whole.
Censorship, going by one narrative, is the practice of withholding certain information from the general public so as to avoid a potentially ‘violent’ scenario. It’s not an instrument that should be used indiscriminately but one that must be exercised with a lot of thought and restraint if possible. To take one instance, if the government were to ban child pornography for instance and censor content on the internet and other media that propagates exploitation of children without any restraint, I would whole heartedly support it. Or for that matter, if the government were to even ban sexually violent or ‘sexually perverse content’ from films or other media that too wouldn’t be unpardonable if certain conditions are obeyed.
If knowledge pertaining to the same is disseminated amongst the masses in a scientific, rational and practical manner wherein the rights and wrongs of sexually violent behavior and sexual exploration is discussed in depth, then taking corrective measures to prevent spread of wrong thoughts or ideas that would potentially propagate secessionist principles or violently deviant attitudes, which in turn would result in tremendous life of property and life, wouldn’t be a bad idea.
But out rightly banning content just because it can corrupt minds is not appreciative particularly in a mature democracy. Even noted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi believes that unless children and adults across India are educated scientifically and practically in the ‘sexual and reproductive sciences’, sexual exploitation and violence can never stop. Interestingly, human psyche is in most cases engineered in a manner such that if it were to be disallowed or forbidden to watch certain content, the curiosity of the mind to explore the same increases by many fold which has both positives and negatives.
Funnily, understanding and disciplining the mind in the art of ‘sex’ and ‘reproductive power’ was a fundamental aspect of ancient Gurukul systems but due to intrusion of multiplicity of cultures and ideas those rational titibits have been lost in the sands of time. It’s high time that proper indoctrination of the human body be incorporated into the curriculum of schools nationwide so that children don’t have to resort to other ‘potentially perverse’ means to understand their own body.
Now, when can the case of censorship be a good thing? Recently when the government of Haryana decided to ban internet services in its state owing to the fact that it may be used by fanatic mobs to rally support for their convicted godman, who had a notorious penchant for instigating violent activities, it was in good spirit. Thanks to the timely intervention, major loss of life and property was avoided. However, this is one of those rare cases when censorship, in one of its extreme forms, is ok. Nevertheless, in the larger frame of things, governments must try to be as transparent as possible with their people and vice-versa so that the area for discussion and dissent isn’t choked. But even then, sufficient restraint must be applied after taking into account the views and opinions of all necessary stakeholders.