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In the chapter “Liberty” of Political Science Class 11, students will learn about different aspects of freedom, Mahatma Gandhi’s lookout on Swaraj, the ideal of freedom, negative and positive liberty, J.S. Mill Harms principle, dimension of freedom, why do we need constraints, the concept of liberty, and much more.
What is meant by Freedom? Is there a relationship between freedom for the individual and freedom for the nation?
Freedom is very essential for the development of the personality of an individual.
Generally, freedom means absence of restraints. It means freedom to act without being subjected to any restraint. But in a true sense, freedom does not mean so. In fact liberty signifies “a power or capacity of doing or enjoying.” It is not a license to do what a person can do, but it is a freedom to do anything with caution and responsibility. Aung San Suu Kyi says, “For me real freedom is freedom from fear and unless you can live free from fear you cannot live a dignified human life.” According to T.H. Green, “Freedom is the positive power or capacity of doing or enjoying something worth doing and worth enjoying.” According to Laski, “Liberty means the maintenance of the atmosphere in which men have the opportunity to be their best selves.”
There is a close relationship between freedom for the individual and freedom for the nation. For individual freedom, it is essential that the nation should also enjoy freedom. Where nation is not free, citizens cannot enjoy freedom. Aung San Suu Kyi sees her freedom as connected to the freedom of her people. Mandela spent 28 years of his life in jail for the freedom of the State and for personal freedom. Under the British rule, Indians were not enjoying freedoms and rights. There were many restrictions on the freedoms and rights of the individual. Indian National Congress under the leadership of Gandhiji and other leaders launched various movements for freedom of the nations because these leaders knew very well that nation’s freedom is very essential for the freedom of the individual. In short, the individual can have little freedom — civil, political or economic — unless there is national liberty. India attained freedom on 15 August 1947.
What is the difference between the negative and positive conception of liberty?
Liberty is understood in two different ways—negative and positive aspects of liberty. The negative aspect of liberty means absolute freedom of individual. Absence of the restraints is the meaning of negative liberty. But true liberty does not mean the absence of restrictions. True liberty exists only when every citizen enjoys the opportunity for self-realisation and the State maintains those rights and opportunities which help the citizens to develop all that is best in them. The positive aspect of liberty includes the right of the man to do or enjoy something that is worth enjoying. In brief, it means the enjoyment of certain important rights such as freedom of life, freedom of thought and freedom of worship, etc.
What is meant by social constraints? Are constraints of any kind necessary for enjoying freedom?
Freedom does not mean the absence of restraints. Freedom can be enjoyed only in the presence of social constraints. According to M. Kechni, “Freedom is not the absence of all restraints, but rather the substitution of rational ones for irrational.” According to Laski, “Liberty means the absence of restraints upon the existence of these social conditions which in modern civilization are the necessary guarantee of individual happiness.” Social constraints are not always against liberty. Reasonable constraints are the safeguards of liberty. Only reasonable restrictions curb liberty. Social constraints must be there if we are to live together in a society. Man is a social animal but man is selfish also. There must be social constraints to regulate their conduct. The film maker Deepa Mehta, wanted to make a film on the condition of widows of Varanasi. However, she was not allowed because there was a strong protest from a section of the polity who felt that it would bring a bad name to India. The film, The Last Temptation of Christ and the play, Me Nathuram Boltey, were also banned after protests.
What is the role of the state upholding freedom of its citizens?
In a modern democratic state, freedom of the individual is protected by the state. But according to Anarchists, Individualists, Pluralist and Syndicalists, state is a big hurdle in the way of individual liberty. The maximum use of sovereign authority is bound to decrease the liberty of the individuals. The people in the state are to function in accordance with the laws of the state and it results in curtailment of individual liberty. But most of the modern thinkers are of the viewpoint that liberty and state are not opposite to each other, rather they are correlated. The state makes laws so that the citizen may have no hindrances to act as he should for his own good and well-being of the society. Liberty cannot exist without law. The supreme power of the state is expressed through laws and the laws protect the liberty of the individual. The laws of the state enhance the liberty of the individual. According to Ritche, “Law is the condition of liberty.” Reasonable restrictions are imposed on the actions of individuals through laws and it helps in extending liberty to everybody. Thus, the state is the real guardian of liberty.
What is meant by freedom of expression? What in your view would be a reasonable restriction on this freedom? Give examples.
Freedom of expression is essential for the development of the personality of the individual. Without this right, there cannot be free discussion and honest exchange of opinion. Freedom of expression refers to communication, dissemination and propagation of ideas and opinions freely expressed by word of mouth, writing, printing, etc. It includes freedom of press, movies, radio and television. Mill had absolutely no doubt regarding the absolute liberty of thought and discussion. This freedom is a fundamental liberty of the individual and even the best government has no right to suppress any single individual for his opinion. Indian Constitution allows freedom of speech and expression. But there is a need of reasonable restriction on the freedom of expression. In our opinion, following are reasonable restrictions on the freedom of expression :
- Sovereignty and Integrity of the State.
- Security of the State and friendly relations with other states.
- Public interest.
- Public order, decency or morality or incitement to offence.
- Contempt of Court.
- Defamation of any citizen.