COMING SOON: EMERGENCY II ON A TV NEAR YOU

Her husband, Rajiv Gandhi, was the father of the still-born Defamation Bill. Her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, was the mother of censorship during the Emergency. Now, is Sonia Gandhi and the UPA government led by her Congress party pushing our democracy in that unfortunate direction once again?

The signal comes in the form of a draft bill drawn up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to rein in television. The Bill moots the idea of an “external regulator”—a thought policeman—appointed by the government to decide whether the content of a channel is “anti-national, incorrect or false, or obscene”.

Shorn of the legalese, it means a “Big Brother” will sit and watch what the channels are airing. If “Big Brother” says he doesn’t like something, he can direct the channel to take it off the air. If his order is not complied with, the channel can be stripped of its broadcasting licence. As simple as that.

Yes, Indian television is not one of the most balanced things going around. Still, do we need the government to be deciding what we should see or shouldn’t see? Is it the government’s job to see to it that our minds are not polluted when there are dozens of other pressing issues before it?

Who decides what is anti-national, incorrect, false or obscene? Who is to say that what the government-appointed censor says is the right thing? And yes, when will the government treat you—yes, you—as a full grown adult who can make his own decisions and choices and judgements? Speak up before “Big Brother” comes knocking.

Also see: Government may censor private TV channels