Sedition decoded Sorabjee Style!

Indian Express reported Mr Soli Sorabjee describing the JNU President’s arrest “deplorable”. It is interesting to read the reasons for his opinion. I found them incongruous.

In the existing scheme of things the presumption is I am wrong (and prejudiced) in not condemning the arrest. I therefore read the comments again but unfortunately(?) it only confirmed my original opinion (which makes me rabidly communal, casteist and unpatriotic?). Please judge for yourself.

Mr Sorabjee said, “What did he do? Did he merely shout slogans like Pakistan zindabad? arresting him for that? I mean thats deplorable”! The “he” incidentally is an Indian citizen, and the comment appears to suggest that it is right for any Indian to shout Pakistan Zindabad and acting against him outrages any sensible Indian’s (like Mr Sorabjee’s) sensibilities. I realised I do not fit the category of a sensible Indian because I cannot shout Pakistan Zindabad nor accept its being shouted in my presence or find any restraint on the shouting “deplorable.”

The comment which follows makes the situation clearer still (or does it?) and fills me with self-loathing. Mr Sorabjee next says “Even if you say Hindustan murdabad its a boderline case since these words have the tendency to create a law and order problem.” Thus even Mr Sorabjee agrees that where there is a tendency to create a law an order problem we may consider making the act criminal; of-course, in his opinion, there will be no law and order problem if you shout Pakistan Zindabad(as it is not a “borderline case” like Hindustan Murdabad but a clearly a non-issue)  – and an acceptable war cry of any Indian! I now realise that apart from not being sensible enough to know there cannot possibly be a law and order problem if Pakistan Zindabad is shouted, I am not patriotic enough to shout it or tolerate its being shouted.

Anyway coming back to Mr Sorabjee. He is sure that Pakistan zindabad is not sedition but he is not sure if Hindustan murdabad is sedition. This creates a piquant situation but only for a stupid, irrational, unwise and unpatriotic a person like me. Please consider the consequences. An Indian (according to Mr Sorabjee) is immune against action if he shouts Pakistan Zindabad but if he shouts Hindustan Murdabad its impropriety needs to be debated. And debate is protected! But if debate is protected how can that which is being debated (Hindustan Murdabad) be the cause of arrest? Arrest thus will be unwarranted in both cases whether you shout Pakistan Zindabad or Hindustan Murdabad! Indians can thus travel the length and breadth of the country either shouting Pakistan Zindabad or Hindustan Murdabad. Here comes the catch. If I protest against either I am liable to be arrested for objecting to legitimate political action. Hence I am not just not sensible or not patriotic but I am a criminal in addition uneducated in basic constitutional values!!

Why then make any distinction between the two? Thats the point. It shows the offence of sedition should not be on the statute book! It is indeed pointless. Pakistan Zindabad Hindustan Murdabad is acceptable political discourse and truly legitimate.

And dare I object. “We should take things”, said Mr Sorabjee, “in the right perspective” and not “overreact”. My reaction to Pakistan Zindabad and Hindustan Murdabad will always be an “overreaction” because I lack the “right perspective” to tolerate it. So my mind-set is bad and my way of looking at things wrong. I am communal, irrational and unpatriotic and need to be punished for such deviance. I am after all an Indian who will never shout Pakistan Zindabad or Hindustan Murdabad.


There is no difference between today and yesterday and no promise of a different tomorrow.

“Good” and “evil” are not normative concepts – understood in the context of some standard of conduct – as they have become partisan ideas, good if it is an affiliate ideology and evil if it is not.

Speech has displaced ideology and relative convenience of an immediate position has replaced commitment to any principle.

And there is just empty noise in the silence of barren nothingness.

There is more manipulation of people than any movement by them.

The alternative choices which control decision-making are narrow and selfish concerns of those who continue to stake claim to the authority to take decisions even after forsaking the right to take them having betrayed the trust of those for whom they claim to act.

Hard decisions are politically impractical even if correct or needed. The competition for political space eliminates finding common ground for public good as each actor in the arena knows public interest will not motivate the other and maximising self-interest alone is the best strategy.

Stances harden even while views become polarised and the resultant logjam of chaos congests all saneness and lucidity. Issues are framed but not for resolution; they get a life of their own perpetuated by politics which becomes the only prop for their protagonists who fears losing his identity with their resolution thus appealing only to the lowest common denominator of his group.

There are no rights and wrongs just competing rights and competing wrongs.

Even history is constructed through revision or negation and without a past to guide the present loses a context and is confined to the skirmishes of the day and backlash of tomorrow.

A state of hysteria is created through a deliberately provocative discourse as to imprison reason and manoeuvre emotions to eliminate the need for deliberation and discussion within the charade of democracy.

Captive interest groups are made to masquerade as learned societies and circulation of information has less to do with distribution than direction.

Reality belongs to one who can best choreograph it. And in this reality illusions become beliefs. And the belief which sustains the politician is that people are sovereign.