At a time when people take it upon themselves to define freedom for others we at Juggernaut are creating a space for all ‘Our Freedoms’ to coexist. We had the opportunity to speak with Roshan Ali, an acclaimed novelist and one of the contributing writers for our newest release- Our Freedoms, about what freedom means to him.
Q: Do you think that Freedom of Expression today comes with terms & conditions applied? Can you see this changing anytime soon?
RA: Freedom of expression always comes with conditions. What matters is what those conditions are. It is a difficult problem to solve for people because of the vast range of parochial conditions that societies exist in – and these parochial factors confuse and derail efforts to create a society that applies the ‘right’ conditions on freedom of expression. On the whole, I can think of only one of what these ‘right’ conditions are, which is: instigating violence. This is because violence is the anti-thesis of expression and only can thrive at a time.
Q: What’s your take on the recent event of a few international figures extending their support to the farmers’ protest and the static messages posted by Indian celebrities after said support?
RA: One of the ironies of the present government (and modern authoritarian governments generally) is that they speak of self-reliance but are intensely aware of what the world thinks of them. This is probably because they know deep down that it is not really possible to be ‘self-reliant’ in the way they claim to want. This contradiction is generally a source of great friction in the way they operate and was clear in the way they reacted when a Western pop star (somebody they shouldn’t really care about if they care about what they say they care about) tweeted about the farmer protests. The celebrities who then tweeted their support of the government are less interesting: they are just cowards.