I saw this well written piece by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in today’s Indian Express on the Prime Minister’s allegations surrounding foreign funding of NGOs agitating around Bt cotton and nuclear power. As a foreigner (and American) I do not feel I can comment on this debate much without sounding self-serving .
That said, the controversy over foreign funding of NGOs, the internet censorship debate, and the inability of the state to provide a safe space for Salman Rushdie to visit India has certainly created a mood where there is a feeling that free speech is under siege in India. This concern seems to have gained some traction within the middle class, and certainly the South Delhi consensus seems to be tilting in regard to this government. I am curious whether the Supreme Court will see this as an issue where it has new found political capital to push more aggressively as it did in the anti-corruption debate. Of course, the Indian judiciary is well known for its contempt orders to deter criticism directed at its judges, and so might not immediately be seen as a natural free speech ally. That said, recent allegations of corruption against the judiciary didn’t stop the Court from entering the anti-corruption fray.