“Protect freedom of speech not freedom of action”

“Freedom of speech ought to be protected not actions, some people do cross the line and indeed commit actions amounting to sedition. We need to differentiate between views and actions. Sedition is not saying that you want the Government to be overthrown but doing physical activities like carrying arms to make that happen” said former Member of Parliament Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda.  He was speaking at the launch of his book authored by him Lutyens’ Maverick – Ground Realities, Hard Choices and Tomorrow’s India” at New Delhi’s Nehru Memorial Museum & Library.

Panda felt the need to update the colonial era laws “Our sedition laws need to change and freedom of expression laws need to be updated. It comes down to the fact that we have a broken criminal justice system. We have laws that are based on 19th Century laws that were prevalent in the UK and the US these countries themselves have long dumped these laws and moved on.”

He termed the decision to implement the GST as a historic decision “The GST with all its problems in 10 years, 20 years, 50 years time would be seen as a seminal moment when India shifted gears, this is similar to the United States which after 90 years of its Independence enacted the ‘Interstate Governance Act’ which created one large economy for the first time. This is a macroeconomics structural change which would have a huge impact over decades.”

Patra declared that he harbors very positive view of India’s prospects especially due to its democracy “In my book people would find a subtext of optimism; I feel our democracy has a self correcting mechanism within itself we have made a lot of corrections, in the 1950’s, 60s, 70s and 80s we missed out on high growth rates and it was attributed to democracy and other Asian countries transformed themselves from developing to first world but we have corrected over the last 28 years. Despite different parties heading the Government from time to time we have experienced long periods of high growth rates and are catching up quite rapidly.  Of course we need many fundamental changes for instance judicial reforms, we have a terribly low ratio of judges to population, immense shortage of police personnel, and we need to reform the prosecution system. Unless you have proper enforcement of law and order and contract enforcement the country will be held back.”

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