Monday, December 22, 2014

Jaipur Literature Festival – Part 9- The Freedom of Expression

To Freely Express

Why Every Individual can Write with Effort

Two days at the festival. So much had happened already. So many discussions and thoughts moving around. It was beyond exciting. 

I then headed to the Google Mughal tents for a session titled, ‘Freedom, Opinions and Expression’ with representataives from the international writers group PEN’. The panel include John Ralston Saul, Jerry Pinto, Peter Goodwin and Antara Dev Sen, who were all representatives of PEN in different countries or part of the freedom of expression movement in their respective countries.

I always wondered why similar movements did not exist in education. Why aren’t students involved in the education debate? Almost every student in high school has over ten years or more of experience in the education system. Nobody is asking the student his or her opinions on the state of education and how it can be improved today. It is time the student voice is represented. We need to play a part in designing our own education.  Ideas for a student group that was involved in educational reform and policy debates were running through my mind as I hear stories of the fight for freedom of expression through PEN across the world.

The mission of the organization as mentioned on their website is, We support and promote literature from all cultures and languages, and believe in the right of every individual to have a voice and to carry out their work freely.’

The organization finds work that needs to be published and take up seventy to righty percent of the cost in getting it published after it is approved.

Jerry Pinto, the member of the All India PEN Center described how writers create mirrors that people see themselves in.

Why only Discuss on Public Platforms?

It was hard to sustain freedom of expression in a country like India. Political groups and corporate media make it hard for the general public to raise their voices.
A Debate at the Festival

He then described how we do not have to always depend on public platforms to raise our opinions. We can create our own online platforms and create and post our views on them. This can be a blog, a video channel or a twitter feed. He mentioned how it was important we write to the concerned authorities incase we had a problem. This could be a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, if it was a general civic issue.

We can even contact the Press Council of India, Advertising Council of India or the Consumer Guidance Court in case we feel our right are being violated in any way at all.

Let us Learn Together
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