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Sunday, November 09, 2003

Editors of The Hindu and Murasoli Arrested

This isn't exactly an economic issue, but it does seem to be a freedom of the press one. (Come to think of it it is an economic one too, if you think about the importance of 'institutions' for growth). Prashant has written to me about the arrest of the editors of The Hindu and Murasoli. Prashant and a number of others have written to Kalam. you can find articles from the Hindu, the Times of India, India Express and Rediff.

Dear Mr. President:

This is an urgent appeal to you to intervene in the Tamil Nadu Government's outrageous assault on the press and to overturn its actions against the editors of The Hindu and Murasoli.

The actions of the Tamil Nadu Government come hard on the heels of the Gujarat Government's attempts to punish Dr. Mallika Sarabhai for her outspoken criticism of the post-Godhra riots. They form part of a deplorable pattern of attacks by elected officials on free speech and ultimately on the free exchange of ideas.

India has long been distinguished from other developing and, indeed, many developed countries by its strong commitment to free speech, and a free press is central to our image of ourselves as a civilized country. The right to free speech is enshrined in the constitution and courts have repeatedly upheld the implicit rights of a free press. These include a right to publish its opinions and those of its correspondents. All of that is rendered meaningless if criticism of public officials results in harassment and intimidation using the power of the State.

It is imperative that such proto-fascist tendencies on the part of elected officials are stopped with an unambiguous message that their actions are unconstitutional and unacceptable. Intimidation of critics and the press is the hallmark of dictators and other absolutist weaklings. It has no place in a pluralistic free society.

We, the undersigned, are all professionals of Indian origin living in the US who are proud of India and its freedoms and are horrified by the recent events. We urge you to act immediately.


Vijay Dandapani
Raghu Sundaram
Sanjiv Das
Prashant Kothari
Marti Subrahmanyam

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