Rajeev Dhavan, senior advocate of the Supreme Court, urges self-regulation by all rather than giving free speech a bad name.

How would you evaluate the state of individual freedoms in India at the practical level? Do the rich have more of it than the poor?

In (V.S.) Naipaul’s phrase, India has a million mutinies (going on) diurnally. This social anarchy contributes to free speech. Trade unionists, journalists, social activists, artists and writers are dealt with (by the establishment) on the basis of the fear created in those who censor with heavy-handed police action. The protests of the poor are much more vulnerable. But for the media, which exposes human vulnerability and offers space to the free expression of vulnerable people, the poor would be nowhere. True, the media is corporate-owned, but journalists are not pawns in the hands of editors. My faith in journalism rests on journalists who have proved their mettle again and again in independent India.


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