Way back in January 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at an event in Mumbai had said that though the government needs dialogue and healthy “criticism” of the government, he had simultaneously also warned the media against excessive “allegations” as doing so “weakened democracy.” Modi had, in that meeting, urged people to sharpen their skills of criticism as he lamented that today allegations had replaced constructive criticism. Making allegations did not require much effort, he pointed out, but for constructive criticism you needed thorough analysis. According to him, criticism opens up the door to the shuddikaran (cleansing) of views. But then, his feeling is that more the allegations, the more is democracy weakened. Modi, who has refrained from holding any press conference since he took over as PM, had in 2015 also said that “every decision, every view” should be followed by criticism, and that there should be space for samvad (discussion) and vivad (controversy) and that the view thus generated after that will enable us to reveal the truth. It is true that democracy will be at a loss if there is no criticism. One should not be saddened by criticism. Criticism gives an opportunity to assess the truth, creates possibilities to avoid wandering off into the wrong direction, and prevents a government from making mistakes. Modi’s government has been increasingly facing a lot of criticism, which, viewed from the point of view of strengthening democracy, is definitely good. But then, is it necessary to constantly engage in criticizing a government just for the sake of criticism, and just because the Constitution has guaranteed the right to freedom of speech? There is no definition or law that quantifies the amount of criticism which is required for the health of a democracy. But then, is it really ethical to criticize a government during times of a national crisis? Looking back not too far, one can recall that in 1999, even as the Kargil War with Pakistan was on, the media had hit upon certain very important information related to certain flaws of the government and the Indian Army. But then, the media did not discuss that issue till the war was over. It was only after India had successfully ended the war that the media went hammer and tongs against the government and the Army over it. It is true that in those days there was no social media. But then, what is happening in the social media is anybody’s guess. As Dona Levi, an internationally renowned psychologist and author of ‘The Healers Trilogy’ said, ‘When you throw negative energy at another human being, you are hurting him or her, whether you realize it or not. At the same time, you are throwing negative energy out into the universe for yourself. What you put out is what you get back’.
Criticism: Good or bad?