‘The essence of a free press is the principled, reasonable, moral essence of freedom. The character of a censored press is the unprincipled aberration of un-freedom, it is a civilized abomination, a perfumed monster. I think, censorship of the press is based on the principle that the end justifies the means. But an end that requires unjustifiable means is not a justifiable end’. This was Karl Marx in 1842. But the communists who claim to follow him are the greatest censors of press freedom ( China is not communist any more though ). But Marx had a great follower in Pandit Nehru. He was an advocate of Press freedom. He once said,’I would rather have a completely free Press with all the dangers involved in the wrong use of that freedom than a suppressed or regulated Press.”
However he had his issues with press freedom. In the First Amendment to the Constitution, he brought in changes to curtail press freedom after a court ruled in favour of ‘Observer’, the right wing magazine and said “pre-censorship of a journal is a restriction on the liberty of the Press which is an essential part of the right to freedom of speech and expression.”. Panditji then moved the First Amendment and he said,”During the last fifteen months of the working of the Constitution, certain difficulties have been brought to light by judicial decisions and pronouncements especially in regard to the chapter on fundamental rights. The citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by article 19(1)(a) has been held by some courts to be so comprehensive… In other countries with written constitutions, freedom of speech and of the press is not regarded as debarring the State from punishing or preventing abuse of this freedom… The main objects of this Bill are, accordingly to amend article 19 for the purposes indicated above.”
Except for this, he was a strong advocate of Press Freedom. He had encouraged Shankar when he had caricatured Panditji in various cartoons.
Yes, he goofed up on Tibet, lived in utopia ( as the left leaning politicians usually do ) and believed in the halo that he would be recognized as a statesman by China and chose to look the other way when there were massive incursions that eventually led to the country being slapped in front of the world, the J&K issue with Article 370 being introduced surreptitiously etc. You could add to this list.
But you cannot ignore the public sector that he assiduously helped build. And those served the nation at least for 40 years and some like BHEL and NLC continue to do so.
In our collective resolve to defame Panditji, let us not forget the founding father on his various other attributes that have helped nurture our democracy in its infancy.
Let us stop for a moment and thank the patriot for his service to nation that we call homeland.