Freedom gives liberty to every Person to do or not to do the act which they want. It means freedom from various restrictions and prohibitions. In other words, freedom is a state where a person can act on his own volition without any fear, prohibitions and restrictions.
There are however limitations on the enjoyment of freedom by ordinary citizens, in any given society. The unhindered exercise of freedom by one man may impinge upon the freedom of another.
Consider the situation, where one man wants to celebrate the wedding of his child by playing loud music late into the night. To a student, who lives in a nearby house, and who is trying to study for his exams, this loud music is a disgusting nuisance. Therefore the exercise of freedom by the person who plays loud music impinges upon the freedom of the student.
Thus all societies recognize that limitations upon freedom is another way of guaranteeing freedom to the members of that society.
It has been said that exercise of freedoms and the imposition of freedoms are two sides of the same coin, for together these two ensure the availability of reasonable freedoms to all members of the society.
Therefore freedom is an absolute sate cannot be achieved, as for a peaceful enjoyment of freedom, limitations upon freedom are an essential pre-requisite.
STATE AND FREEDOM
In modern democratic societies, the State has taken upon itself to protect the freedoms of its citizens. There are detailed constitutions specifying how the right to freedom has to be exercised. Then there are courts of law to ensure that the freedoms are actually made available to the common citizens.
Political freedom is a central and defining feature of all modern democratic societies and has been an important feature of history and political thought. It is described as freedom from oppression and coercion – the absence of disabling conditions for an individual and the fulfillment of enabling conditions, or the absence of life conditions of compulsion, e.g. economic compulsion, in a society.
Left-wing political philosophy generally couples the notion of freedom with that of positive liberty, or the enabling of a group or individual to determine their own life or realize their own potential. Freedom, in this sense, may include freedom from poverty, starvation, treatable disease, and oppression, as well as freedom from force and coercion, from whomever they may issue.
Anarcho-capitalists see negative rights as a consistent system. Ayn Rand described it as “a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. To such libertarians, positive liberty is contradictory, since so-called “rights” must be traded off against each other, debasing legitimate rights which, by definition, trump other moral considerations. Any alleged “right” which calls for an end result (e.g. housing, education, medical services) produced by people is, in effect, a purported “right” to enslave others
Anarcho-socialists see negative and positive liberty as complementary concepts of freedom. Such a view of rights may require utilitarian trade-offs, such as sacrificing the right to the product of one’s labor or freedom of association for less racial discrimination or more subsidies for housing. Social anarchists describe the negative liberty-centric view endorsed by capitalism as “selfish freedom”.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
Freedom of religion or the freedom of belief is the right of an individual to undertake the worship of the divine in the way he or she chooses.
Historically, freedom of religion has been used to refer to the tolerance of different theological systems of belief, while freedom of worship has been defined as freedom of individual action. Each of these have existed to varying degrees. While many countries have accepted some form of religious freedom, this has also often been limited in practice through punitive taxation, repressive social legislation, and political disenfranchisement.
Freedom of religious worship was established in the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India by Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC, which was encapsulated in the Edicts of Ashoka.
Freedom if religion is universally regarded as a fundamental human right and is the cornerstone of modern democratic nations. Generally speaking the state is expected to maintain equidistance from all religions.
FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
Freedom of thought (also called the freedom of conscience or ideas is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others’ viewpoints. It is different from and not to be confused with the concept of freedom of speech or expression.
Freedom of thought is the precursor and progenitor of—and thus is closely linked to—other liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression.
Conception of a freedom or a right does not guarantee its inclusion, legality, or protection via a philosophical caveat. It is a very important concept in the western world and nearly all democratic constitutions protect these freedoms. For instance, the Bill of Rights contains the famous guarantee in the First Amendment that laws may not be made that interfere with religion “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. ( U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo reasoned in Palko v. Connecticut (1937))
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION
Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. Article 19 additionally states that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary ” or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals”.
Freedom of speech and expression are not absolute and common limitations to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, classified information copyright etc.
Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” The idea of the “offense principle” is also used in the justification of speech limitations, describing the restriction on forms of expression deemed offensive to society, considering factors such as extent, duration, motives of the speaker, and ease with which it could be avoided. With the evolution of the digital age, application of the freedom of speech becomes more controversial as new means of communication and restrictions arise, for example the Golden Shield Project, an initiative by Chinese government’s Ministry of Public Security that filters potentially unfavorable data from foreign countries.
HOW FREEDOM IS BEING CURTAILED
Today, in our society, the government in the name of secularism, socialism, religion, development and so many other reasons suitable to them, are curtailing our freedom which has been guaranteed by the Constitution of India to every citizen of India.
Apart from the government, so called self-declared leaders, saints and also persons claiming to be the protector of our culture and civilization are trying to restrain our freedom, sometimes by use of forceful measures.
The process of curtailment of freedom is leading to a lot of friction within the Indian society.
It is high time that all the right thinking people of India, who believe in liberty and freedom come together and defeat such elements.