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The modern way – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/the-modern-way/article17741148.ece

    • The government should use the new mental health law to strengthen primary care
    • The passage of the Mental Healthcare Bill in the Lok Sabha, putting it on course to become law and repealing the Mental Health Act of 1987, will potentially help India catch up with the advances made in the field by other countries.

  • India urgently needs to make a transition from old-fashioned approaches to providing care for those suffering from mental illnesses, something that China, for example, has achieved through state-led policy reform

  • The country’s grossly inadequate base of professional resources is evident from its ratio of 0.3 psychiatrists for 100,000 people (with marginally higher numbers taking independent private practitioners into account), compared to China’s 1.7.
  • Then there are massive deficiencies in the availability of trained clinical psychologists and psychiatric social workers
  • Evidently, the National Mental Health Programme has not been sufficiently funded within the health budget; neither has capability been built in most States to absorb the meagre allocation.
  • The important provisions relate to the recognition of the right to medical treatment, decriminalisation of attempted suicide, explicit acceptance of agency of people with mental illness and their freedom to choose treatments, prohibition of discrimination and regulation of establishments working in the field.
  • Raising effective primary and district-level coverage of mental health services for the general population, without requiring people to travel long distances to see a specialist and get medicines, should be a priority.
  • Since the base of psychiatrists is low in relation to the need, the use of trained general practitioners as the first line of contact assumes importance.
  • With a concerted effort, primary care physicians can be trained to help people with mild and severe problems, ranging from anxiety disorders to depression, psychoses and conditions arising from alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Being able to get professional counselling will reduce the complications arising from extreme stress, often the trigger for suicide.
  • Extending health insurance cover is also a step forward, since out-of-pocket expenditure has risen along with the expansion of the private sector in this sphere, just as for other ailments.
  • The provision in the new legislation prohibiting seclusion of patients, something that is frequently resorted to in asylums, and the general use of electro-convulsive therapy must be welcomed.
  • Modern treatment approaches rely more on family and community support. The new Central and State regulatory authorities should speedily weed out shady non-governmental rehabilitation organisations in this field.

Clamping down on creativity – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/clamping-down-on-creativity/article17741162.ece

    • However, in the largest democracy with the longest Constitution, films often become the target of public ire and of censorship.
    • The recent controversies over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati and the Prakash Jha-produced Lipstick Under My Burkha have again ignited the debate between the liberals and the conservatives, between the custodians of Indian culture and the urban intelligentsia.
    • Since it is the Constitution which guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, and defines the contours of the said freedom, perhaps we should consider the interrelationship between the Constitution and cinema.
    • The preamble of our Constitution, which is said to contain the dreams of “We the People”, speaks of “freedom of thought and expression
    • Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
    • However, the said freedom is not absolute one; it is not an unbridled horse.
    • Article 19 (2) permits the state to impose reasonable restrictions on seven grounds, namely security of state, sovereignty and integrity of India, friendly relationship with foreign countries, public order, decency and morality, contempt of court, and defamation. Thus, the ban on a film is legally justifiable only on these seven grounds, and none else

  • Generally, films are banned for six reasons

      • First, movies which supposedly depict the country in a bad light. BBC’s documentary India’s Daughter (2015), which contains interviews with the alleged rapists of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim, is banned in India because it records certain views of the rapists which show the country in a poor light.
      • Second, movies which portray the life of our leaders, but in an unfavourable manner — such as Aandhi (1975) and Kissa Kursi Ka (1977).
      • hird, movies which depict communal violence are prone to be banned; such movies are deemed to arouse the passion of the people that can lead to problems of public order.
      • ourth, movies which ‘hurt’ the religious sentiments of the people — such as The Da Vinci Code (2006), which was banned in five States in India as it ‘hurt’ the sentiments of the Christian community.
      • Fifth, movies are censored on the ground of obscenity.
      • Finally, there are those films which deal with tabooed subjects like lesbianism, and transsexuality,
    • The legal issue before us today is whether censoring films and protesting against the freedom of the artists are legally justified under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution or not
    • The ban on the ground of public order or obscenity, at times, might be justified. But the prohibition on the grounds that the film “hurts the pride of the people of the nation”, or “hurts the religious sentiments of a community”, or that “it defies Indian sensibility”, or “it is against the Indian ethos or culture”, or “it is woman-oriented” are clearly untenable. For such grounds are not covered by Article 19 (2).

  • Depriving the majority

    • The ban on films which criticise the nation clearly reveals our immaturity in accepting criticism of ourselves.
    • Similarly, bans on films which raise modern issues of the condition of women in India such as Water , or on issues of sexual identity or fluidity such as Gulabi Aaina or Fire should not be banned especially when the question of the rights of the LGBT community is being debated as a constitutional issue, and as part of human rights. Such extra-constitutional restrictions go beyond the scope of Article 19 (2).
    • Most importantly, such prohibitions adversely affect democracy and the rule of law. First, coloured exercise of power permits the state to control the free flow of information, of thoughts, of creativity, and of speech and expression.
    • The state is permitted to think that it has the power to decide what is right or what is wrong for the people, instead of letting people have the right to decide the same.
    • Second, unreasonable restrictions at the behest of fringe groups deprive the majority of the people of their right to see, and to enjoy good literature and good art.
    • While we worry about the sentiments of the few, we ignore the rights of the many.
    • it becomes the tyranny of the minority over the rights of the majority.
    • Third, in the age of information technology, such bans are farcical. For the proscribed films are readily available on the Internet. Such bans thus motivate people to break the law and to dilute the rule of law.
  • Amartya Sen in his book, The Argumentative Indian , has argued that one of the reasons for democracy to survive in India is the ability of Indians to accept diverse thoughts and philosophies, cultures and lifestyles within their fold.
  • Indeed, the Constitution of India is wedded to the concept of pluralism and inclusiveness. But extra-constitutional bans restrict the free flow of thoughts, of imagination, of creativity. Such bans are thus against the constitutional philosophy, against the rule of law, against democracy, and against our national interest.
  • The winds of imagination and thoughts, of colours and creativity should be permitted to blow throughout the nation lest the country be imprisoned in an iron curtain. We cannot construct Siberian prisons in the tropical landscape of our Constitution.