The Free Speech Campaign


Nilanjana Roy, the redoubtable writer and journalist, has started a campaign to protect and reinforce a fundamental right. The idea is to do a bunch of readings on February 14 (the day when Satanic Verses was banned in 1989) to protest book bans and censorship in the arts. The campaign page suggests that you should organize a public reading (or take part in one) at 3 PM in whichever city you are. If you have a blog, post this poem by Rabindranath Tagore: just like I did.

"We cannot let our republic, our beloved republic, our constitutional republic, our free and free-speaking republic, be hijacked by fear. It happened once in the Emergency. It must never happen again.
We cannot let them close our mouths and eyes and ears.
We cannot let them break the pen or ration the ink. ~ Vikram Seth, speech at the Kolkata Book Fair.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high 
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments 
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth…
Where the mind is led forward by thee 
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. 

~ Rabindranath Tagore.

(The poster below was designed by Sanjay Sipahimalani. Check out more on his site.)