Unless plutocracy is defeated, India, as a nation, cannot survive, warned Journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak on August 2, in a congregation of intellectuals and social reformers at the State Information Center (Jaya Dev Bhawan), Bhubaneswar. The occasion was Free Speech Day organized by Anti-caste Marriage & One-child Family Organization of India (AMOFOI) and he was the Chief Speaker-cum-Chief Guest.
With Prof. Biswaranjan in the chair, AMOFOI president Joan Omprakash, welcomed the event.
After inaugurating the AMOFOI publication on free speech, Pattanayak recalled Dr. Ambedkar, who, in his reply to debates on the third reading of the Constitution had warned the nation of premature death of democracy if Government of independent India fails to take immediate steps to remove the economic inequality, the country was burdened with, under colonization and feudatory condition.
Sadly, Pattanayak said, the post-independence regimes, instead of removing inequality, have transformed Indian democracy to plutocracy that perpetuate inequality; as a result of which, protests of the victims of inequality are taking the shape of armed revolutions. And, Ambedkar’s forecast is appearing to be coming true.
He elaborated on how agents of the rich are collaborating with each other in covering up crimes against the country so that perpetrators and beneficiaries of plutocracy can consolidate their position. As an instance, he cited the collapse of the motion in the tenth Loksabha against the notorious bank of terror-funding, Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) because of nexus between the Congress in Government and BJP in Opposition.
He cited several instances of how popular governments have no qualms in destroying the faith of people in governance, as both the systems – democracy and plutocracy – being based on elections, look similar and the majority voters – the wretched poor – fail to understand, that, by electing their representatives, they are giving power only to the agents of the rich, planted as they are by all political parties pursuing economy of inequality. The deterioration in ideological sphere is so sharp and severe, that the mainstream communists are also having no qualms in coalescing with the capitalist parties, he said.
In such a situation, aggressive observance of right to free speech by every citizen can put a leash on whosoever occupies office, he opined.
In justifying August 2 to be called the Free Speech Day, he recalled how on August 2, 1971, Orissa High Court had declared two Rules of Orissa Government Servants Conduct Rules void, as they restricted the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.
AMOFOI founder B.Ramachandra, then a lecturer under the State Government, was subjected to disciplinary action for having criticized a government policy.
The Court had set aside the official action with the observation that the government servants shall have the right to criticize the Government , as thereby administration can be cleansed of misrule.
The policy that Ramachandra had criticized had to be abandoned after the Court order, but sadly, the two restrictive rules still stay, despite being declared void. Therefore, observation of Free Speech Day on August 2 every year would act remembrancer of the necessity of writing off the two restrictions imposed on government servants in the conduct rules, said Pattanayak.
The function was presided over by Prof. Biswaranjan who gave a short but specific speech on the essence of freedom of speech.
Advocate Chittaranjan Nanda of Orissa High Court deliberated upon the importance of Article 19(1)(a) of Indian Constitution when Prof. Ramachandra, in his key-note address, stressed on elimination of caste system, of all traces of feudalism and exploitation. He cited John Stuart Mill, Voltaire, Bertrand Russell and Rabindranath Tagore and Universal Declaration of Human Rights in support of free speech campaign and called upon people to be rationalists and humanists rather than becoming religious chauvinists.