Rahul Basu, a theoretical physicist at IMSc (Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai), has started a blog: As I Please [I blogged about his letters to the Hindu just the other day]. His third post is on a recent lecture by N. Ram, the Hindu's Editor in Chief, at the Beijing Forum on Human Rights:
... N Ram says that all round development is itself a sign of progress in human rights. For a novel take on the human rights issue, this is hard to beat. By this logic, the erstwhile Soviet Union was a shining example of human rights for the people since overall development (in the sense of infrastructure and so on) in the Soviet Union was close, if not the same as in Western Europe and America, and way ahead of any of the developing countries like India which had full fledged democracy and a free press. Never mind the few sent off to the Gulags... they were irrelevant and expendable presumably.
Another theoretical physicist at another leading institution -- Sunil Mukhi of TIFR -- finds a pattern in the Hindu's hypocritical views on freedom of speech: it supports it only when it makes China happy!
Now going through some old emails, I found that Mr N. Ram, under very different circumstances, turns out to be quite a supporter of freedom of speech. In 1998, Dr T. Jayaraman of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai (funded by India's Department of Atomic Energy) wrote some articles in the Hindu's Frontline magazine, opposing India's nuclear weapons programme. For this he was warned by his Director that disciplinary action may be forthcoming. Ultimately the Director was persuaded to back off following pressure from the scientific community, including a signature campaign signed by 170 TIFR scientists (I conducted that campaign and sent him the results).
[excerpts from an e-mail from a "jubilant" Mr N. Ram snipped]
While it was a perfectly valid democratic option to oppose the Pokhran II tests, this also happened to be a line that would have pleased the Chinese government at the time. So for some people, freedom of speech appears to be OK when it makes China happy, and not OK otherwise!