FoE has two pillars to rely upon - 1)laws protecting speech 2) social protection for speech.The laws invariably protect against Govt intrusion though there is no reason why such laws should apply on private companies, but they don’t today.Comparison between India & US wrt these:
US still has stronger laws on FoE. The First Amendment. Nothing remotely comparable in India. The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to define hate speech simply because of the subjectivity involved.
But the laws can take one only so far without social backing. In fact cultural ethos is any day a far stronger deterrent on free speech because social influence is pervasive while the Govt can sanction only so many. This is exactly where India today scores over US.
India still does not have the culture of socially sanctioning speech. Loss of employment because of wrong views is nearly unheard of. And the threat of job loss is far greater than laws simply because the enforcement of laws can not be done on a mass basis.
In US today firing over wrong speech is norm rather than the exception. In private sector. This creates a greater sense of insecurity than any law ever can since most jobs are in private sector. This fear in the general populace is being reflected in survey after survey.
Americans, citizens and residents, are terrified of expressing themselves in fear of suffering adverse professional consequences. This is a very serious deterrent against freedom. There are few orgs defending free speech, but only few, so they can go only so far.
And, a free speech advocacy organization can do very little to protect against professional sanctions in private sector because there is no law protecting speech in private sector. Thus, First Amendment is in effect annulled or at least severely limited.
Summarily therefore citizens and residents of India enjoy greater freedom of expression which is until the woke cancel culture mob assumes control of the Corporate sector.
The social latitude for freedom of expression in India owes in part to the Hindu civilizational culture of free expression and debates. Different schools of thought could develop in Indic civilizational primarily because of the ancient tradition of free speech & debates.
Scholarship and debate was how Shankaracharya rejuvenated Hinduism for example. Debate between scholars had a hoary tradition in centers of learning like Navadwip continuing until the British times.
Despite the long standing Indic cultural norms, a question then is why did India not enact a law like First Amendment in 1947, which US did when it became independent from English control.
The answer I believe is that the modern Indian state is the continuation of British colonial state rather than Indic values. The last act of her formation was through negotiations and deal makings rather than through a militarized revolution, the latter happened for US.
Since 1947 India continued with almost all the laws that the British used to exert control on its subjects, the Indic civilizational legacy was largely ignored in the laws. Only the white rulers were replaced by brown ones.
FoE is the most basic of the civil liberties, but why would a colonial state care about any civil liberty of its subjects. The British didn’t, so there was no First Amendment in British laws for India. Their Indian continuations didn’t either for they were products of colonials.
US was formed through a revolution which helped break shackles of colonial state. Thus the liberty of citizens, as defined then, were of paramount consideration. Hence the various amendments which protect citizens against the government.
But of course the limitations that would come later through social culture combined with private sector control could not be foreseen. Hence protections from big business were limited in US constitution.This is exactly the loophole through which First Amendment is being nullified

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More from @sarkar_swati

8 Feb
What is Indic civilizational legacy on FoE? Sabitri debated with Yamraj, the God of death, won the debate and got her husband’s life back. Nachiketa questioned Yamraj. Draupadi debated the entire court when she was being humiliated, & eventually got her husbands free.
All these individuals were speaking “truth to power”, to the ultimate power, be it God of Death or be the monarch & his courtiers in a royal court. So that “truth to power” is intrinsic in Indic civilization.
In documented history, Shankaracharya rejuvenated Hinduism by defeating Buddhist scholars in debates in court after court.
Read 5 tweets
7 Feb
I don’t know the farm law, so won’t venture in2 the debate that it is right or wrong.There is clearly strong Corp. backing of the law which should make us suspicious given Corporate history.But while one set of farmers oppose another set (in different states) support. So 2 sides+
+ What is in some ways amusing is the set of celebrities who have jumped to its support or opposition. Neither set has any connection to farmers, have not shown any interest in farmers’ issues earlier and have chosen sides nonetheless +
Tells us how celebrities are garnered for “causes” and how seriously one ought to take their endorsement or opposition. +
Read 9 tweets
6 Feb
The Democrat Party in US devises its India strategy based on the inputs it gets from global left units in India, which would be the Lutyens media. Why it gets India wrong each time and underachieves on its objectives vis a vis India. A short thread+
It’s no secret that President Obama + Secretary Hillary did not want Modi to become India’s PM. They continued the Bush era sanctions on Modi wrt visiting US and other interventions hoping that those would undermine Modi’s image in India. The outcome was the opposite.
The US sanctions on Modi actually boosted his image in India, or at the least did nothing 2 weaken him. Modi won the PM chair of world’s most populous democracy with a record mandate in 2014. While he was on US no visa list. This was a clear embarrassment for US foreign policy.
Read 13 tweets
5 Feb… India threatens to jail Twitter employees for non compliance with orders to ban accounts and posts related to farmers agitation. A short thread on the hypocrisy of the reactions to this
After Twitter banned several posts&a/c in US including that of then President of US,it has no moral ground to complain when GoI threatens to act for refusing to replicate the act in India. If Twitter complains, it is essentially saying it has the sole right 2 decide who can post.
But Twitter can not claim any kind of sovereignty. It is a pvt company and subject to the laws of the land. It can contest GoI in a court in India, but that’s about it. From a principled POV, a nation state must be more powerful than a pvt company because its rulers are elected.
Read 7 tweets
4 Feb
How Meena Harris, Niece Of US VP  Kamala Harris, Opposing Indian Farm Laws, Is Becoming A Problem For White House. The Swarajyamag article is meant to mislead their readers counting on their limited knowledge of US politics. A short thread below:…
Meena Harris’ aunt Kamala Harris is very close to US celebrities and Corporates. Most of the leading Democrats, particularly the California Democrats are. Meena Harris is following her aunt’s path here +
Meena Harris’ plug of Rana Ayuub is hardly a problem for White House. Rana Ayuub is the India columnist of Washington Post. WaPo had blatantly supported Biden starting from the Democratic primaries.
Read 6 tweets
3 Feb
Can a private company conduct its business in any way it wants? Follow the net neutrality debate. Many countries have legislated that service providers can not discriminate between content providers. So, legislating not to allow discrimination between speech in same vein
If net neutrality is mandated, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) (a private company) can not enter into a deal with a content provider (another private company) to provide better quality of service to its content over others or refuse 2 carry contents of other content providers
Net neutrality is mandated in countries like US, India though some loopholes exist. But broader point, private companies are required to do business as per the law of the land. So, forcing speech neutrality by Big Tech is within Govt prerogative
Read 6 tweets

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