February 13, 2012
… In the world’s largest democracy, many Indians say freedom of expression is under attack, and along with it the values of pluralism and tolerance that have bound this nation of 1.2 billion people together since independence from Britain more than 64 years ago.
India’s democracy is nothing if not raucous. The huge array of newspapers and 24-hour television news channels are often vociferous in their criticism of politicians. But the media’s determination to root out corruption in the past two years has prompted a backlash. Talk of more stringent regulation is mounting.
At the same time, artists say their creative freedom has been steadily eroded. Even Jay Leno managed to offend Indian Sikhs — and prompt an official government complaint — with a satirical reference to their holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, in a joke about Mitt Romney’s vacation homes.
… “For a country that takes great pride in its democracy and history of free speech, the present situation is troubling,” said Nilanjana Roy, a columnist and literary critic. “Especially in the creative sphere, the last two decades have been progressively intolerant.”