YouthSutra

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Freedom. An interesting concept, isn’t it? Being able to do what you want, be what you want, express yourself however you choose. Of course, being a civilised society, we have laws to prevent misuse of freedom. Certainly wouldn’t want people to have the complete freedom to harm others without punishment, right? So, yes, laws do curtail freedom in some aspects. But recently we’ve witnessed a landmark Supreme Court judgement: that the right to privacy is a fundamental constitutional right granted to every Indian citizen. This is a huge deal, readers.

Privacy is a seriously multifaceted concept. In the Information Age today, data about people is extremely valuable to someone or the other. Aadhar pretty much has an immense database of personal and biometric data of most the country. The whole reason this debacle of privacy was brought up in court in the first place was because people questioned whether Aadhar information collected violated their right to privacy. I’ll leave the settlement of that question to the government, watching the Executive and Judiciary branches battling it out, with my bowl of popcorn here. Real change will definitely get some people worked up, but seeing these branches keeping each other in check restores some amount of faith in the system to me.

People willingly present plenty of their personal information online through social media, and that is their prerogative. One needs to be careful about what information of theirs is easily available to others. There’s plenty that can go wrong if one shares too much of their personal info. As I said, data about people is valuable. You may not think your preferences for shoes, your daily boring schedule, or secret hobbies matter to other people, but it does. There’s plenty of people that would most definitely pay to get all of that juicy personal info of yours. Marketing firms, stalkers, and anyone out to defame you can get plenty out of all of that.

Oh, I saved the best part of this ruling for last: it defines sexual orientation as an essential attribute of privacy. Discrimination against anyone on the basis of sexual orientation is unconstitutional. Now, while this may be the by-product of someone seeking to protect their own information, or just attack the Aadhar initiative in general, it is certainly a landmark ruling for LGBT rights in India. Honestly? This part took me completely by surprise. This is an extremely progressive judgement for the rights of the marginalised. In India, where discussion of these rights is barely existent in the large picture, this sets the bar really higher than I could have imagined. It’s just such an amazing thing, seeing progress like this.

So, to conclude, I hope this ruling of privacy does help in a lot of ways. But it’s just a legal precedent. Social attitudes and norms won’t change just because of that. Plenty of work to be done yet. And as you know, information is valuable. Spread the word. Protect your own privacy. Say that LGBT people deserve their rights, even if you believe it but haven’t said so. You don’t need to necessarily put yourself at risk to promote social causes.

After all, why do you think I write under this pseudonym?

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3 thoughts on “Liberté, égalité, fraternité

  1. >Certainly wouldn’t want people to have the complete freedom to harm others without punishment, right? So, yes, laws do curtail freedom in some aspects.

    This is a very rigid understanding of freedom. We all “should” have freedom to take decisions and do stuff that only affects us. By definition, our complete freedom ends right where another’s nose begins. But this is where it gets complex, We are all inseparably interwoven into the very fabric of society; and we all require and share the same life-support system to survive. Hence, practically any minute single action an individual execute does affect everyone else in one way or another.

    Furthermore, the moment we harm (either physical or psychologically) another, we have corrupted their freedom. Hence, in this perspective, freedom becomes a network of responsibilities, with which each paves the way of another’s freedom.

    So technically, those laws doesn’t curtail freedom; but in fact attempts to ensure it.

    1. I’d definitely agree. Those laws do ensure personal freedom for everyone, thanks for pointing out where I went wrong. ^^;

      Some laws, however, just curtail personal freedom. Such as ones that prevent people from consuming what they like – prohibition and drug laws fall squarely into this distinction. Some might argue that the reason these laws exist in the first place is to ensure personal freedom by eliminating factors that might affect the freedom of others, if one person were to break it. But the worldwide trend of legalising the use of cannabis gives me hope that things are changing.

      1. Of course, laws shouldn’t be except from change. It shall always be updated in accordance with new scientific knowledge and developments in social psych.

        If you look at the history of those drug laws, you can see that almost all of them were once quite freely available and accepted, mostly as a medicine and somewhat for recreational purposes. The restrictions came to be, when we started to observe and experience harmful effects from them. But, as so, our knowledge and experience aren’t absolutes. Hence, as we learn more, we shall tend to change. This is what seems to be happening in the case of Cannabis (But, I do doubt if opioids and other drugs may ever become legalized tho).

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