Blogosphere and Plurality of Voices

I think Gandhian politics should be the way to the future, and I’m stereotyped as being impractical. The next day, when I say that I feel Nathuram Godse should have been forgiven long back because that’s what Gandhi would have done, the people who called me impractical the previous day come thrashing at me because their politics survives on ‘hating Godse’.

Some days, I say Savarkar has a lot to offer to the modern Indian youth and his works should be studied with the same care as the works of Gandhi, and then I am branded as a Sanghi and Bhakt. The next day when I say Marx’s works provide us with significant criticisms of capitalism, the other group of the political activists come thrashing me.

Sometimes, I write at the intersection of Law and Gender while strongly advocating a feminist approach to law. That day, I get appreciated by some and ignored by others. But the other day, when I quote scientific findings from Behavioural Biology on gender differences as a result of evolution, I am called a sexist.

I have always been a contrarian – probably because I have come to know that popular opinions are often flawed, full of rhetoric, and are oversimplified in order to blind us from the more complicated truth. And because I think against the ‘established’, that creates a problem for the acceptability of my opinions.

As the debate on the nature and extent of free speech goes global, the time has come for us Indians to contemplate and introspect on the local scenario. While the influx of Op-eds and critical pieces from NYT and Harper Magazine is inevitable, it’s for us to localise the lessons learnt – it’s for us to make space for a domestic space that facilitates the free exchange of ideas.

As a generation, our frequent exposure to popular media and social networking makes us vulnerable to polarisation. More so, owing to the algorithm-driven news delivery systems – news that is carefully calibrated to match our point of view, consequentially strengthening our belief systems beyond repair, over time. And the results are clearly seen in the conversations that we have, the opinions that we express, and the way we treat our dissenting friends. And such exhibitions of blatant polarisation permeate not only our friendly informal conversations but also our professional circles.

To our misfortune, we witness the polarisation on the blogosphere too, on a daily basis. A few days back, one of my friends wrote a brilliant piece on education policy that had a libertarian tone to it. And when he approached another leading law blog for publication, he got rejected with comments that stated that his libertarian assumptions went unproved. It’s not uncommon to have politically biased editors, but denying space to dissenting voices is definitely worrisome.

And we, at The Law Blog aim to address that.

I’m proud to admit that we have never rejected a submission on The Law Blog for the want of political correctness. Be it the Ayodhya verdict or the UP govt. Ordinances, we have published opinion pieces from both ends of the political spectrum that have exhibited the ability to critically analyse the issue at hand. We realise the significance of plurality of voices and have stuck to our conviction through thick and thin over the past half-decade.

But, a single blog isn’t enough.

A few years back, when we realised that a single blog isn’t enough to create the impact that we dreamt of, we started our flagship programme Writing For A Change wherein we train young writers for starting blogs of their own. The underlying assumption was that the best way to democratise and pluralise the blogosphere is to increase the number and range of voices that culminates in the form of blogs. We encouraged our brightest writers to start blogs of their own, all the while carrying forward the conviction to plurality, inclusiveness, and the quest for truth.

However, that too isn’t enough. That’s where you need to fill in the gap.

We understand if your favourite blog is The Law Blog and you love reading the pieces published on it. While that’s a good starting point, that’s an inefficient ending point. While chances are there that one day you’ll see your own piece published on The Law Blog, there may be times we may not accommodate a large range of voices due to our qualitative and quantitative restriction policies. That’s when we appeal you to start a blog of your own – to start giving a platform to the voices that aren’t accommodated on other platforms – to embark upon a journey that’ll take you closer to plurality, tolerance, and empathy.

After all, truth is a collective responsibility.

Best,

Anshuman Sahoo
Editor-in-chief, The Law Blog

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