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Muscle or muzzle? A critical analysis of media, power and censorship in democratic India

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The controversy around media, power and censorship in democratic India is centred around the debate over the pros and cons of total freedom of expression. The freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution of India can be suppressed if it is considered objectionable, harmful, or a threat to communal harmony. Governments across the globe have used religious, political and other powerful arguments to support their censorship efforts. Offensive communication in the eyes of the government varies from country to country, religion to religion, even sect to sect. Many governments provide for certain limited protection against censorship. It is always necessary to balance conflicting rights in order to determine what can and cannot be censored. The past few years in India have seen films, rock bands, websites, Internet articles, events, documentaries and books restricted or totally banned under various censorship laws. These occurrences have sparked widespread criticism. This article takes a closer look at recent instances of media censorship, the reasons behind the decisions and the reactions of the Indian people. The discussion is within the framework of existing laws in India, historical background and culture, and examines the future of Indian media in the context of power and censorship.
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Keywords: censorship; culture; democracy; freedom; history; media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Madras University

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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