Interview with Kobad Ghandy: Free Speech in Modi’s India

Kobad Ghandy (photo from THE WEEK)

Daphna Whitmore interviewed Kobad Ghandy on 6 September for the Free Speech Union in New Zealand.

This podcast looks at free speech and civil rights in India, the world’s most populous democracy. Kobad Ghandy was a political prisoner for ten years under both Congress and BJP regimes, and was just released in Oct 2019. He has written a book called Fractured Freedom – the book has been translated into six Indian languages, – and last month he published several in-depth essays on the state of India’s fragile democracy, 75 years after independence. Daphna asks Kobad if Hindu-fascist is a fair description of India today as described by the author Arundhati Roy. Ghandy agrees there is Hindu fascism but the real question he contends is why is it tolerated?

The discussion ranges from the long tradition of brahminical cruelty in the caste system, the shallowness of democracy in India, the lack of a real industrial revolution, the impact of neoliberal reforms in the 1990s, and shortcomings in the left in India. He also talks about Charvakas/Lokayata a little known rational and enlightened culture of 3000 years back in India which was crushed by the orthodox Hindu system, as was Buddhism which struggled against Brahminism for over 1000 years.

Listen to the podcast