History, International Relations, People, World Politics

Know your Freedoms.

Freedom is a complicated word, it’s been used time and time again to represent various things. It also means different things for different people. But almost all democracies across the world protect and guarantee eight types of freedoms. These freedoms are essential for human existence and are inalienable and indivisible in nature, meaning they can never be taken away from us. The term ‘Liberty’ is sometimes used in place of Freedom. Almost all nations that guarantee these freedoms to their people have reasonable limits on each freedom- this is done for the sake of public safety and the maintenance of law and order. Without these freedoms being given to individuals, it becomes hard for a human to live in absolute peace and to maximize his or her potential in a society. 

  1. Freedom of Faith

This essentially would mean every individual has the freedom to worship or not to worship any religion. All religions would be allowed to set up their institutions and believers would be free to worship. There would be no imposition of any religion on an individual. 

  1. Freedom of speech and expression 

This means every individual can express his or her own views in various forms like speech, art, music, literature etc. Many countries would have a ‘reasonable restriction’ clause  to ensure people don’t misuse this freedom to cause conflict and violence. It is however very hard to exactly define what could be considered reasonable and unreasonable and this largely depends on the cultural norms and traditions. 

  1. Freedom to peacefully assemble without arms and to protest 

All individuals have the Right to come out and protest. Protest however should be non- violent and should not cause harm to public property or human life. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King made excellent use of this. In recent years we have seen many protests across the world that have been non-violent in nature. This freedom allows for dissent and also ensures that the Government is held accountable for their words and actions. 

  1. Freedom to form associations and unions 

All citizens have the freedom to form associations and unions- these groups however should be formed according to the due process of law and should not go against the established Rule of Law. Trade Unions, Pressure Groups, NGO’s, Civic Groups, Human Rights Organizations are few examples of associations and unions that are seen across the world. Without the freedom to form associations and unions, people would be left without a voice to express their opinions, this in turn could lead to conflict and radicalisation. 

  1. Freedom of the Press

The Press is the 4th pillar of Democracy. Without a free press, the Government would be able to get away with anything. The Press should be free from influence and partisan politics. The press should be able to ask questions to those in power and should be in a position to take their own decisions. This however does not mean the Press can peddle fake news which harms society, they need to also be responsible and reliable. 

  1. Freedom to practice any profession/trade/business  

Human beings have the freedom to practice any form of skill or work. No one can deny a person from doing a particular type of work as long as it does not cause harm to anyone else or is an illegal activity. 

  1. Freedom to petition the Government 

This is also referred to  as the  ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’. Citizens have a Right to hold their Government accountable. When the Government infringes on their Rights and Freedoms, the citizens have a Right to call them out. The citizens  also have the freedom to force the Government to be transparent and open in their working. 

  1. Freedom of movement and residency

Citizens should be free to move across their country and should be free to reside in any part of their country. This again comes with a reasonable limit- for example, citizens may sometimes be forced to stay at home during a war. Citizens have the right to reside in any part of the country, again this comes with a reasonable limit for example- certain areas could be off limits for common citizens to live in like border areas in conflict zones.

What happens when our freedoms are taken away?

The Judiciary is the organ of the Government we normally approach when our freedoms are curtailed. The Judiciary would ensure that the freedoms are restored and they do this using various tools like writ petitions. The Press too should highlight any incidents where people have been denied their basic freedoms. When a Government curtails the freedoms of people for long, it could lead to conflict. For example Colonial powers across the world refused to grant many freedoms to the natives, this in turn led to mass movements in many places asking for freedom. As a citizen, it is your duty to know and educate one another on the various freedoms that are provided to each citizen. We must be mindful of the fact that many of the freedoms we enjoy today are the results of many years of struggle and conflict, it is therefore our sacred duty and obligation to protect and preserve the many freedoms that are given to us. When we look at conflict regions of the world, it is quite easy to know why conflicts have happened in these regions, it is solely because groups of individuals  and governments have taken away the freedoms that should be given to the people. The moment citizens are denied freedoms, a counter movement would emerge which sometimes could be radical and this in turn could lead to a violent situation. It is therefore essential to ensure the freedoms we mentioned above are guaranteed to all citizens, without discrimination. 

The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free.

JOHN F KENNEDY

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