#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Gandhi and lessons for Fiji

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gandhi and lessons for Fiji


Part One
Mahatma Gandhi and Liberty of the Press: Lesson for Fiji

By VICTOR LAL

In 1889, the British led Government of India published an Amendment in the Indian Official Secrets Act of 1889, coinciding with Mahatma Gandhi’s own newspaper The Indian Opinion in South Africa. Though his contemporaries in India were facing various repressive measures under Press Acts, Gandhi was not, during his entire stay in South Africa, handicapped in running his paper.

 The great Russian pacifist, Leo Tolstoy’s letter to Gandhi – Letter to a Hindoo – was published in the Indian Opinion. It was reproduced in the journal Gujarat Patra of Nadiad, a town on Gujarat. A notice under the Indian Penal Code was served on the journal by the repressive Government of India. In the Gujarati edition of the Indian Opinion of  9 April 1910, Gandhi mentioned about this and said: “It is not a little surprising, though it does not contain a single sentence which can promote violence, the person who reproduced it is being prosecuted (echoes of Contempt of Court proceedings and fine and suspended prison sentence by Justice Hickie against Fiji Times and Netani Rika).

"This betrays sheer madness on the part of the officers…Our only regret is that though ours is the primary responsibility for publishing this letter, nothing is done to us and it its editor of Gujarat who is in danger. We hope that the editor and the manager of Gujarat will do their duty fearlessly and not retract a single step.”

Gandhi also mentioned about the “Repressive Laws” in India for “Suppression of Writings” and cautioned: “Indiscriminate suppression of newspapers by the Government will not ensure peace…True, the letter gave a vivid account of the harm done by the British Rule. That thought cannot be erased by suppressing writings.” Gandhi was not quite sure what to do under the circumstances. He said: “Will our readers be intimidated by these developments or will they do their duty? That is what remains to be seen.”

 In the Gujarati edition of the Indian Opinion of 23 April 1919, Gandhi wrote an article under the caption ‘Journalist’s Duty’. He referred to the case against Gujarat Patra and asked: “What should an editor do when something he has published displeases the Government or is held to violate some law but is none the less true? Should be apologise? We should say, certainly not. True, he is not bound to publish such matter, but once it has been published, the editor ought to accept responsibility for it.”

 But Gandhi qualified his statement and said: “This raises a very important issue. If the principle we have laid down is correct, it follows that if any provocative writing has been published unintentionally and no apology is offered for the same, the newspaper will in consequence be prevented from rendering other services as well and the community will go without that benefit. We would not therefore, apply this principle to matter published unintentionally, but it should apply to what is published after full deliberation.

"If a newspaper runs into difficulties for publishing any such matter, we think the closing down of the newspaper will be a better service to the public. The argument that in that case one may have to face the confiscation of all one’s property and be reduced to poverty has no force. Such a contingency may certainly arise, and it was precisely for this reason that we said that the editor of a journal devoted to public service must be ever ready for death.”

 He gave one obvious illustration: “Suppose that Government has committed a gross injustice and robbed the poor. A progressive newspaper is being published in such a place. It writes against the oppressive measure and advises people to disregard the unjust law of the Government. The Government takes offence and threatens confiscation of property if no apology is forthcoming. Should the reformer apologise?

"We think the reply is again the same; that he should stand the confiscation of his property and close down the newspaper but certainly not offer an apology. The people would then see that, if the reformer could lose his all for their sake, they should also in their own interest oppose the law…The best service that the reformer can render will be to stop the newspaper.”

Editor's Note: To be continued

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Indian Opinion is not The Fiji Times - Mahatma Gandhi is not Rupert Murdoch - Fiji is not India - this is 2010 not 1889 - apart from that? Good story.

Anonymous said...

We are not talking about the year, men or the media - what Gandhi is saying to us in Fiji is to stand up and defend press freedom from the tyrants who are ruling Fiji

Anonymous said...

@6:48pm...It is more than a story. Good stories are for entertainment. Ghandi was not an entertainer but a sage whose teachings transcend the bounds of space and time!

TheMax said...

Tyrants can also come in the form of a powerful media organization using its market share to subjugate and sabotage a nation's sovereignty by manipulating news in order to influence public opinion to achieve a hidden agenda. When a media organization such as the Fiji Times slanted its report directly abetting terrorist activities, they should be shut down and closed for good. Good riddance.

joe said...

Looks like Gandhi was too busy defending press freedom and not his nation, and the rest is history. The country was divided along religous lines and the situation there is as volatile as in 1947.

Ban the Bomb said...

Gandhi too busy defending press freedom to defend his nation? And so Joe, since you called 300,000 Methodists 'morons' in an earlier post on another blogsite, what is your interpretation of the thesis that India was divided along religious lines?

Do we ban religion? Or shall we ban religious morons? (Perhaps that’s an oxymoron, depending on whether or not you’re an atheist). Trouble is, once religion is banned, society might develop a schism along the lines of politics, so let’s ban that too. Fiji society is already divided into the pro and anti Bainimarama camps so let’s ban those guys. Mind you, it might be easier to ban Bainimarama since he’s just one man. As far as the media goes, ban the lot of them since they’re only in it for the money. Which, come to think of it, is why we all work in the first place.

Once we’ve banned the things that cause division in a nation, we’ll be left with men and women. Well ! We all know how differently they think and I’ve got no doubt that without the media, politics, religion or anything else giving a point of difference, that the nation will be divided down gender lines.

The only solution I can see to this whole conundrum is that people should be banned. Altogether.

Keep The Faith said...

Nice one BTB!

Anonymous said...

Take Gandhi & Indians seriously when Brits start queing up outside Indian embassy's to lodge emmigration applications.

joe said...

@Btb
No need to ban any religion. It has its place in society,but certainly not in politics. The mindset of the people has to be changed and the media was certainly no help because of the likes of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Medias job is to report and not to propagandise the regime's filth - atleast thhe journalists got the jobs after being interviewed - those running Fiji have walked into positions at the protection of guns - not to mention many other individuals in other government jobs etc etc i.e. the coup apologists

TheMax said...

@ Anonymous April 14, 2010 4.41 AM

When media organizations such as the Fiji Times misuse their role and threaten the security of a country with propaganda and abetting of terrorist activities such as witnessed in the last 22 years since coup 1987, and then collude with a racists masquerading as politicians in a political party, they need their license terminated and have their bosses thrown in jail. But when the media organization collude with corrupt and racist people masquerading as politicians to keep half the population in fear and deny them their basic human rights and freedoms, then they need a vigilant military force playing the role as guarantor of peace and security of the country to come in and clean all of them up. This is what happened in Fiji on 5th December 2006.

Anonymous said...

Well, well, if that is the case, half of the media outlets in India would have been closed down, for supporting the BJP, an ultra-nationalist Hindu political party whose main target was the Muslim population of that country. It was the very party which gave Fiji's Chaudhry Saheb the millions,to be passed onto the Indo-Fijians, the so-called victims of alleged i-taukei racism in the country. We all know where that money ended up - in secret Australian bank accounts. The military has no role in running the country, if we are ever to be a truly free people

Ban the Joe said...

Good to know that religion's ok with you, Joe. Politics too, but just not in the same sentence.

So what happens when people's politics aren't the same? Do we ban the people? Or the politics? Or both?

Or shall we just ban all the joe's that want to engage in mind control and let the people be?

sara'ssista said...

Oh I see, it not the military... it is all the fiji times' negativity that caused this. Perghaps they should have been more positiove about the sacking of the judicary, people being beaten to death, crusades by the illegaly appoitnment police chief, suspicously corrupt back pay to milary brass, miltary sackings of publice serice staff. How rude they should have put a 'positive spin' on all of this and more.Apparently everyone is corrupt except for the military. How amusing.