By Online Desk , Published in New Indian Express 20th January 2017
(Note: The man laughed at as Maun-mohan (symbol of silence) speaks out in defence of freedom of expression and democracy. Only yesterday we quoted Voltaire, in connection with the Khadi Calendar row, the acclaimed defender of that freedom and said the following:
Voltaire had said: “I wholly disapprove of what you say—and will defend to the death your right to say it.” The message is: If you deny anyone else the right to say what you think is wrong, it will not be long before you will lose the right to say what you think is right. Defence of the freedom of others is self-defence. Voltaire stated this fact as a genius. Manmohan is reminding us of the same truth. james kottoor, editor)
KOLKATA: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday pointed out that independent thinking and free expression at Indian universities were under "threat" in the wake of unrests at the University of Hyderabad (HCU) and Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Singh was speaking at the Presidency University.
"I believe every university must give the freedom to pursue knowledge even where the knowledge may be at odds with established intellectual and social traditions. We must guard this freedom zealously," he said.
The former Primer Minister also stressed that attempts to suppress peaceful dissent is undemocratic. "Regrettably, independent thinking and free expression at Indian universities are now under threat," he said.
Singh also asserted that political interference in academic appointments is highly short-sighted. "Recent attempts to interfere with free expression of student community at the HCU and JNU are of particular concern," he said.
"Attempts to suppress peaceful dissent is not only inimical to learning but also undemocratic. We must make very effort to protect the autonomy of every university," he added.