While addressing the annual Indian Conference of Harvard University yesterday, actor Kamal Haasan said that democracy is a work in progress and constant vigil is needed to safeguard it.
“Democracy is often touted as the only bastion of freedom of speech. It is a work in progress. Constant vigil is necessary to safeguard it.”
He reminded that it is through the offices of democracy that Adolf Hitler rose to the power and emergency was promulgated in India. While taking pride in India’s democracy, Mr. Haasan said he wants the country to set an example for the whole world.
The actor who is a part of the reform committee formed to recommend changes in the functioning of Central Board of Film Certification in India, said freedom of speech should not be taken for granted.
“I have taken the opportunity to put on record here and in India we can’t take freedom of speech for granted and complacently think that democracy automatically means freedom of speech.”
Saying that the entire world is in a transitional stage, he said: “The world is going to face new challenges, find new opportunities. We want India not to be complacent, but set world standards.”
He said that, mixing up of politics and religion is not healthy. “What Nehruji spoke of once of unity in diversity, now we are trying to lose it very fast. In a world of open source, protectionism cannot work like medieval times.
“Those evangelising democracy nowadays want us to believe that it is the only hope for freedom of speech. I, as an artist, believe that freedom of speech is separate from the ruling political state.”