Banning Movies – UPSC Ethics

In recent years we have seen banning of movies or books by governments in India on the pretext of hurting sentiments of certain section of population or defaming the country. Do you think such bans are justified? Critically comment. (150 Words)

Article 19 (1)(A) guarantees the freedom of speech and expression but also subject to riders like decency and public order. This fundamental right of ours has been always debatable and provoked in any controversial piece of art, literature or movie.
Issues like The Innocence of Islam, paintings of M.F. Hussain, books by Wendy Doniger and more recently documentary titled India’s Daughter on Nirbhaya present a case of antagonism between sentiments of people and the above fundamental right. Banning such works is not totally justified because:
  1. Out rightly banning under popular outcry is almost always wrong due to the prevalent intolerance in our society.
  2. We need to look inside ourselves and allow each individual to form an independent opinion. We must respect an individual’s choice to form his own idea of elements of society.
  3. Most of works of art, movies and literature are a reflection of our own society and mirror our reality.
So in my opinion we should allow discussions and litigations but not out rightly ban artistic works. However, viewer’s discretion must also be advised. Though there have been attempts to malign certain sections of society deliberately but there is no harm in rejecting such works after debates or follow court orders. Besides, self-restraint will come automatically if such controversial works are allowed to pass the litmus test of societal acceptance. Simply banning them creates only undue popularity.



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