Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Book on Free Speech by Rajeev Dhavan

Dr. Rajeev Dhavan, senior advocate and noted legal scholar, has released a new book on free speech in India titled "Publish and be Damned: Censorship and Intolerance in India" (Tulika Books). Only a few months ago, Dr. Dhavan had released a book on parliamentary debates on reservations that received a rather interesting set of posts on this blog (see here, here, here). The issue of free speech has been often discussed previously on this blog, for instance here, and here.
This new book promises to be an extremely provocative read on a subject of Indian public law that certainly merits far greater scholarly attention than it presently receives.
From the preface:
"... There is much in India's history that is embarrassing. There is also much that is exhilarating. And while there is much that speaks of love, understanding, mutual respect and the togetherness which holds India's vast and complicated reality in peace, there is also much that is divisive, cruel and inexplicable. History is both a discipline and a statement. In the hands of the politicized Hindu Right, this discipline has been transformed by a perverse politics which wants to transform India's communitarian generosity of spirit into communal ill-will.
Free speech has to be preserved in the overcrowded spaces of the media, on the streets and in the vast open spaces of our mind against the onslaught of corporatism, doubtful governance and invidious divisiveness. Freedom of the mind and the right to self-expression and argument can only survive if intolerance is met with tolerance, and tolerance is not seen as weakness."
Finally, it is important to note that the book is a collection of essays written between 2004 and 2007, and some of the material is drawn from articles previously published in journals such as JILI.
For those interested in the issue of free speech, Ronald Dworkin's writings on the Danish cartoon controversy and on the right to pornography will serve as excellent readings.

3 comments:

Raman Jit Singh Chima said...

Dr. Dhavan also wrote on this subject (specifically on hate speech and freedom of expression) in the second volume of the Socio-Legal Review, which can be accessed online at http://www.sociolegalreview.in/volume2.htm#dhavan.

Madhav Khosla said...

Thanks Raman. Dr. Dhavan's essay in the Socio-Legal Review is one of the essays re-published in the book.

Madhav Khosla said...

To clarify, re-published with suitable modifications and updates.