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Freedom of expression non-negotiable: Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar

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Lokmanthan 2022 inaugurated in Guwahati ** India nurtures one of the oldest civilisations: CM

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Sept 22: Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said freedom of expression is a “non-negotiable and uncompromising” asset of India, and any deviation from it will be a “compromise on the sovereignty and wholesomeness” of the country.

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Inaugurating a folk festival ‘Lokmanthan 2022’ here, he also said the category of “pseudo intellectuals” are on the rise in India and they need to be curtailed.

“Freedom of expression is the nectar of democracy. The freedom of expression in India is non-negotiable and we cannot compromise on it. If we depart from this, we will compromise with the sovereignty and wholesomeness of the country,” Dhankhar said.

The legislature has an important role to play in democracy, he said, but expressed regret that nowadays issues are being discussed on the streets instead of on the floor of the Assembly.

“Another concerning trend that needs to be curtailed is the problem of pseudo intellectuals. Can public space be allowed to be dominated by this category of people with the help of media-created eclipses?” Dhankhar said.

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He claimed that pseudo intellectuals pose a challenge to the country and are on the rise despite the world being “amazed and stunned” by the good things and growth happening in India.

The Vice President also said that the role of intellectuals is very critical and they must engage in proactive dialogue, debate and discussion.

“They must reflect the challenges India is facing. They should play on the front foot with a straight bat. I cannot imagine how intellectuals remain silent seeing violation of human rights. If our intelligentsia decides to opt for silence in the current times, then this very important section of society is bound to be silenced forever. They must freely practice dialogue and deliberation so that societal morality and propriety are preserved,” he added.

Dhankhar said that dialogue, debate and discussion are the soul of governance, and the entire ecosystem upliftment can be affected by drawing lessons from India’s rich past.

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“Media should take the initiative here. They should introspect, pass on the mike and let unique, original and marginalised voices come to the mainstream.

“It is time to step out of our echo chambers caused by both social structures and social media algorithms, and let our minds breathe. We must revive the art of listening, we must rediscover the art of dialogue,” he added.

Talking about the National Education Policy, the Vice President termed it “unfortunate” that some states have decided not to adopt the decisions advocated in the document.

Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “It is a privilege for us that our state is hosting the 3rd edition of Lokmanthan which is rooted to Indian ethos and traditions. I am sure deliberations at this platform will generate much awareness on the rich culture, traditions, life-style of the people of Northeast and the country. This will also lead to a celebration of the great cultural legacy of Bharatbhoomi”.

The chief minister added, “A major characteristic of Indian civilisation is that it does not consider the country only as an inert political entity. For us, our nation is akin to our Mother, a vibrant goddess whose every geographical appearance – the landscape-rivers-hills and mountains finds a place in the verses and hymns of the Indian scriptures.”

Sarma also said that the North East had deeply enriched the great ancient Indian civilisation.

Speaking on the folk culture of Assam, Sarma said that today there has been a renewed consciousness among the Assamese people about its folk heritage.

Due to the foresight and dedicated efforts of pioneers like Suryya Kumar Bhuyan, Birinchi Kumar Baruah, Hem Chandra Baruah, etc., study of folk culture as an academic discipline has taken root in the state, he said.

Sarma also thanked Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar for releasing his book ‘In Pursuit of A Dream’.

Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi, National convenor Prajna Pravah J Nanda Kumar, working president Lokmanthan 2022 Dr Gargi Saikia Mahanta also spoke on the occasion.

Later, the Vice President interacted with eminent personalities at Raj Bhawan. Thereafter, he along with his wife visited the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and offered prayers. (With inputs from PTI)




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