Mangaluru

Nothing more patriotic than criticising government: Kannan Gopinathan

Former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan speaking at SDM College in Mangaluru on Tuesday.

Former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan speaking at SDM College in Mangaluru on Tuesday.  

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Former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan on Tuesday said there is nothing more patriotic than criticising the government if the criticism is for the good of the country.

Speaking at a seminar organised to mark Human Rights Day at SDM Law College here, Mr. Gopinathan, who recently resigned from the IAS citing the Union government’s alleged denial of freedom of expression for Kashmiris, said there cannot be freedom of expression without dissent.

If the government has the right to take decisions, citizens are equally empowered to question them. “Saying what is convenient to authority does not require freedom. Real freedom is the right to criticise the government,” he said.

Mr. Gopinathan said it requires a lot of courage to criticise a government as the latter will come after the person doing it. “If you are able to see good for the country, take a stand. You know there will be material losses for you, and even after that if you are able to take that stand, then I don’t think there is anything more patriotic as you are ready for the sacrifice,” he said.

People who are not patriotic stay silent for their own interest even after seeing that something wrong going on in the country, he said. By clamping down on Kashmiris after the abrogation of Article 370, he said, the Centre took away the fundamental rights of Kashmiris to question the decision. “Whenever there is a violation of human rights and fundamental rights in any part of the country, I consider it our responsibility to stand up and say that it is not correct,” he said.

Asked whether his resignation from the post had made any change to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Gopinathan said what it did was give him the opportunity to have conversations with people across the country and make them understand issues. “There is a need for all of us to converse, especially with people with whom we might have differences,” he said. He added that conversations over provocations such as “where were you when Kashmiri Pandits were sent out?” should be ignored as such discussions will not add anything constructive to discussions.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 12:03:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Mangalore/there-is-nothing-more-patriotic-than-criticising-government-kannan-gopinathan/article30268965.ece

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