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British had to rule parts of the country by force, so they were afraid of dissent and revolt. They needed sedition laws to crush any semblance of protest. However, with independence, instead of having to subject to an external ruler by compulsion, we chose to willingly create a system which had a directly elected Government as an essential component. Importantly, this was our system, a system we created and entrusted it with the responsibility to protect us, accommodate us and make us all feel part of a shared vision. The system we created was also expected to be tolerant to the contradictions that lay within. This system gets its legitimacy because of the people willingly giving it the authority and it must be pointed out here that the people are not at the mercy of the system to gain legitimacy. Under these circumstances, the system and people manning such a system have the greatest responsibility to ensure that it is re-conciliatory, tolerant, accommodating, just and non-discriminatory. Any mistakes in this process could leave sections alienated or disillusioned and make the system appear partisan and self-imposing.

Unlike the British rule, because the system derives its legitimacy from voluntary acceptance by the people thus the system is not above its people. If there are dissenting voices against the people who run the system or the system itself, it is the responsibility of the system to create an atmosphere where dissenting voices, contradictory thoughts could be heard, debated and conflicts resolved amicably. Invoking laws of sedition or using army against its own people appears like the State imposing itself against the wishes of the people leading to the lowering of the legitimacy of the system. There are more instruments at the disposal of the system that could be used to amicably resolve issues than use laws of sedition or army against ones own people. We have seen instances of an over-arching system imposing itself in the past and it has had dire consequences.

The system we talk about comprises of The elected Legislative, the executive, the judiciary. Here, I think there is a need to distinguish the Executive from the Armed Forces. Often questions raised on the decisions of the executive are treated as an insult to the Armed Forces. It must be clarified here that Armed forces are outside the influence of any personal bias and hence are always respected for their dedication and bravery. Armed forces are trained to follow orders and not question it, for a democracy like ours to survive that’s how the system has been designed and I think that is how it should be. It is the executive that is given the responsibility of the running and the upkeep of the system. Any complaints with the system directly goes to the Executive, even in case of dissenting voices whatever part of the system they might be disagreeing with, the executive directly comes in the line of fire. For strengthening of our democracy it is better that ordinary citizens don’t just follow orders given by the system but time to time also raise their voices when they don’t agree with things. In fact our freedom struggle was to break away from a system that forced people to follow and prosecuted who didn’t. If we have replaced one oppressing system with another then the meaning of Independence or freedom is lost.

I believe that more serious issue than speaking against the system is spreading hatred against other communities or members of those communities. The hatred that is spread has often lead to violence. It is something that, I think challenges our unity in diversity theme. Even worse is the scenario where the people who are responsible for running the system and play the role of neutral arbiters become biased by taking sides in a conflict between communities or subvert the entire system to suit a select few. In both these cases both democracy and justice get harmed. Hence, I think that time has come for us to put the laws of sedition away and give respect to all the people who sacrificed their lives for our Independence. We need to treasure this gift. All actions must be considered Nationalistic as it only helps the system to become what it was envisioned to be and that way we become more stronger and respectable as a country.

Jai Hind!

ashok

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