Shabana Azmi’s courage is a source of inspiration for all of us. She has fearlessly spoken out about the state of the country, particularly at a time when freedom of expression has come to be seriously threatened.
In her address to a gathering in Indore, where she was awarded the Kunti Mathur Award for her work with women, she very appropriately stated:
"“In the interest of our country, it is necessary that we also point out its shortcomings. If we do not point out the flaws, how can conditions improve? This notion is not by any measure new or revolutionary but rings so true in the interest of the betterment of the nation.”" - Shabana Azmi
According to an NDTV report, Azmi was slammed for stating, “There is nothing wrong with talking about the shortcomings of one’s country because it leads to progress but the atmosphere now is such that if you criticise, especially the government, you are immediately branded as an anti-national. We should not be afraid of this. Nobody needs their certificate.”
Expressing a controversial opinion in the current political climate of the country does not exactly warrant praise from the government and bestirs internet trolls to get to work. This places speaking out against the government on treacherous territory.
However, the pluck Shabana Azmi has exhibited for ages is nothing short of inspirational. It encourages people to share their opinions and use their right to free speech without fear of persecution.
Shabana Azmi has been on the receiving end of criticism from former Union Minister and BJP Leader Shahnawaz Hussain for her comments, with him stating that similar assertions were raised by the ‘award wapsi gang’ in 2014. As reported by India Today, Hussain went on to say that “Aap kisi sarkar ki alochna kar sakte hain, desh ki nahin” (You can criticise a government, but not the country).
Shabana Azmi’s speech in Indore is not the first time she has displayed her fearless spirit. Her public condemnation of the Congress Party on 10 January 1989, during the 12th International Film Festival is the one of many examples of her bravery which has inspired millions.
Azmi had interrupted the festival and called out the Congress government for their connection with the murder of the noted poet, playwright and theatre personality Safdar Hasmi.
Azmi has never shied away from invoking her freedom of expression and speaking out about pertinent political issues, regardless of the incumbent party.
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