Every other day I am pulled into conversation and someone or other solicits my comments or opinion on any topic of current affairs or politics. I try my best to avoid it, simply because I do not have any facts with me. I tell them that I do not possess the basic information or knowledge or expertise on this topic, so I am not the appropriate person to be asked this question. But what shocks me is that my requests as a rule fall on deaf ears as they keep on pressing me for an opinion. Most of the time there is no escape route, i.e., I cannot leave the place or the situation. Then I have to surrender. It is so embarrassing and disgusting. It certainly leaves a bad taste in mouth as I am filled with a deep sense of guilt of committing something which I was not supposed to do. But irrespective of my comment — either in favour or opposition to the proposition — they do not seem to mind my lack of expertise. Nobody seems to mind lack of knowledge or expertise to be a serious issue any more.
I am not interested in politics; even the sight of a politician repels me. It doesn’t matter which party that fellow belongs to. I am unbiased in my hatred for them. At the same time I do agree that there are people who are really interested in politics. Here I do not argue the genuineness of their interest or the reason for it or its importance. Whether it is worth it or not, whether their opinion or thoughts count or not in the real world of politics is not the issue here. I do not dispute their interest in politics. My proposition is simply that they need to carry good knowledge — if not deep — to be able to pass any comment on current affairs. It could be by attending some course, reading books, newspaper archives and so on. It really involves hard work, and considering the scope of current affairs, you can easily sense how much an individual will have to read and study. And if possible, also have a first hand account of the issue. One cannot grasp the subject simply by watching YouTube videos, reading other people’s comments, social media, gossips at tea stalls or barber’s shop. Do you have that much patience? Honestly speaking, I do not have, and that is one of the reasons that I do not devote time to political discussions.
One student made a comment that recently several judgements by the Supreme Court were inappropriate. It made me furious. Indeed I was red hot in anger. I do not know which cases was he referring to. I do not have any knowledge about the issues and peculiarities involved in those cases, nor do I have any knowledge about the IPC. I told him so — that it is highly inappropriate and preposterous to make such a comment on the Supreme Court. He disagreed saying that it was pretty obvious that the judgements were wrong. First I stated that any court anywhere on Earth works on a proper procedure. Then I asked him, have you studied law? He hadn’t. I asked, have you read the Constitution? He hadn’t. I asked, have you at least seen the Constitution? He hadn’t that either. ‘But I have read the Preamble.‘ Wow! The Preamble is taught in 7th standard in CBSE schools. It is the outline of the basic tenets of Constitution, not the entire document. And yet you dare to comment on correctness of judgements! Wonderful! I do not say whether the judgements were correct or not — after all the Supreme Court has the privilege to reconsider its judgement, which itself implies that it could go wrong. My argument is that I am not fit to comment on the matter. Is it so difficult to understand? If I had studied political science in college, or law, or at least read books, then if I commented on the Court, it could be understandable. After all that is what journalists and commentators do in their articles. Someone should at least have a basic understanding of a subject before bringing up a discussion or a debate on an issue.
It is through this personal perspective that I look at the recent remark by the Attorney General KK Venugopal — “I find that today people believe that they can boldly and brazenly condemn the Supreme Court of India and its judges by exercising what they believe is their freedom of speech. But under the Constitution, the freedom of speech is subject to the law of contempt and I believe that it is time that people understand that attacking the Supreme Court of India unjustifiedly and brazenly will attract punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1972” (The Indian Express, 13 November 2020).