Dissent ,Dialogue and Democracy
If Galileo Galilei , never challenged the church or Status-Quo by stating that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun ; kids today would have still been believing in a myth succumbing to a conformity . When Galileo questioned the authorities and the Church it was considered a crime equivalent to Blasphemy (speaking/acting against religion) , Treason (going against the state ) later Galileo died under House arrest ; this is one of the earliest instances of “Dissent” according to the history .
What is Dissent: Holding an opinion which is not welcomed by many or holding and expressing an opinion against a set of values , beliefs or rules.
Reasoning has always been an integral part of a well informed society , the media usually society feeds on shapes the ideas and perspectives towards issues what we face as a global community today .
So , we learnt that democracy is the form of government where the people choose and elect their own representatives according to their political ideology or beliefs ; so when people are exposed to various books , school of thoughts , news channels , newspapers or the socio-economic background they come from ; For instance a Dalit coming from Kalahandi of Orissa or an Adivasi from Bastar may have a different perspective towards an issue compared to a well groomed and better schooled citizen coming from a lush locality in Lutyens Delhi but everyone’s a part of democracy .
The idea of Ram Manohar Lohiya , the ‘Stormy petrel’ of Indian Politics; Gandhi represented his “dream”, Nehru his ‘desire” and Subhash Bose his “deed”. This idealism led him to request Gandhi ji to propose to world leaders a four point program: (1) cancellation of all past investments by one country in another (2) unobstructed passage and the right of settlement to everybody all over the world (3) political freedom of all peoples and nations of the world and constituent assemblies and (4) some kind of world citizenship. Now a proposal like this was not completely welcomed by Gandhiji , now a thinker and strong proponent of socialism or a holistic perspective towards a democracy that was not a “democracy” since its inception but has seen a transition from the feudal system to the monarchy and today it stands as a Democratic , Republic and a Sovereign State.
Here the emphasis has to be laid on the dialogue and dissent ; because democracy is not just a one way traffic but needs to be an active dialogue which may be an eternal debate that results in progress and curb the stagnation of thought and ensure a healthy society that just doesn’t act to be like a “passive democracy” but also a “participatory democracy”.
In 1950 the people of India gave themselves a Constitution that promised to secure to all citizens, inter alia, “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.” This was given a concrete shape by the specific rights guaranteed by Articles 19 and 25 and the associated framework ensuring their implementation. The past six and a half decades have witnessed the manner, and the extent, of their actualization.
The makers of our constitution just didn’t look into the need of the hour while drafting bur also enunciated the values of Freedom struggle that laid emphasis on values like Dissent and discontentment which is a healthy attribute of a society that thinks than succumbing to social conformity which may raise a society oblivious to change and limit the scope of democracy to a very few that has a negative impact on the very essence od “Democracy”.
It has been observed with much justice that the history of progress of mankind is a history of informed dissent. This can take many forms ranging from conscientious objection to civil or revolutionary disobedience. Dissent is a duty than an extra curricular activity or a social past time ,suppressing dissent is an act against the pluralistic principle of a society that has heterogenous groups reducing them to the concept of
Civil societies , NGOs and pressure groups need to have a dissenting voice or else the society may succumb to a level of indoctrination of the widespread beliefs which may have to be altered according to the changing times for a vibrant and well informed democracy.
“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”