Open Thread — Ask Me Anything

Been a while since the last open thread. Feel free to ask questions, or make suggestions.

Here’s a nice picture. It’s from the 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest. A smoke column billows above the forest fire in Banff National Park, one of Canada’s most beautiful places.

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Update Jun 18th: Responses to the questions asked in the comments below are here.

Author: Atanu Dey


16 thoughts on “Open Thread — Ask Me Anything”

  1. Hi Atanu,

    Can you please share your thoughts on the Second Amendment? Is the horiffic gun violence in the US directly attributable to the law? Is it an anachronism that should be repealed?



  2. Sir can you please prepare a
    list of suggested readings for youth here
    in India? 🙂 [Books on Economics as well]


  3. Do you really think that 1st amendment protects free speech in USA ?

    I think it is the American people who for some unexplained reason seem to understand the notion of “Liberty” more than other countries.

    Government in USA hates 2nd amendment. Obama and many other politicians have successfully reduced the effect of this right and once they get to appoint a liberal judge, they might as well throw it out of the window.

    How can a constitution guaranty anything that the people themselves don’t believe in ?


    1. Constitutions are not engraved in stone. When the popular sentiment changes, then constitutions can also change. If most Americans don’t like a certain provision, it will be reflected in the constitution.

      As it happens, the constitution provides guarantees against the restriction of free speech. But there are mechanisms for changing the constitution. It could well be that if the population wants the freedom of speech to be restricted, then the 1st Amendment can be repealed, just as the 18th amendment was repealed.

      The constitution is not an unalterable law of nature. It is just an artifact of human understanding and will.


  4. Atanu – are you an Overseas Citizen of India? I happen to be one, with my primary residence in the US and I spend appreciable time in India.

    I recall you briefly mentioning that you had taken down a blog post critical of SSRS because his minions or his organization sent the web hosting company and you a legal notice. Even though you believed you could not be prohibited from expressing your opinion and it was a bogus threat, you didn’t want to spend time and money hiring a lawyer to defend you. So you took down the article temporarily. And it came down to the hosting provider of this web site, which you have now changed so there is no fear of them getting any legal notices from India. Is all this accurate?

    I notice the intent to talk freely about your opinions of SSRS in a future post – which is great! But I was wondering if you are aware of the implications of free speech on Overseas Citizens of India. I am certain that if you are a regular domicile Indian citizen and you draw an obscene cartoon of Mohammad, you will be quickly arrested and charged in India for hate speech. All in order to ” prevent discord among the religious communities”. Never mind that the text of the Quran contradicts that intent by calling for the killing of non-believers and infidels.

    But what if you draw an obscene cartoon of Mohammad, publish it in the US, and later reside in India as an OCI. Could you face arrest if the publication in the US has caused consternation in India? Clearly, if a US citizen did the same thing in the US and later visited India, he would be afforded full consular protection from being arrested under this asinine Indian law. I had heard that the PIO (“Person of Indian Origin”) status allowed for similar consular protection, but that it does not exist for OCIs. Modi, in his infinite wisdom, has done away with the PIO status.

    Long story short: I am curious if you will face any legal consequences in India for bluntly excoriating a religion and mocking its adherents, as an OCI. Clearly, you are protected as a non-OCI US citizen. To my non-legal eyes, criticizing/mocking Mohammad or SSRS (who seems to be a messiah in the eyes of many) are different points on that spectrum of “creating disharmony among religious communities”.


    1. Hello Ram R:

      Your description of what transpired regarding that post on SSRS “Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a Con Man” is accurate.

      I don’t have an Indian citizenship as India does not allow dual citizenship. Therefore I have a US passport and an OCI visa.

      I doubt that any Indian government can imprison me for speaking truths that they find inconvenient. But I don’t doubt that I could get into considerable trouble if I were to write anything that would bother the “minorities” — if the said minorities were capable of reading what I write.

      Discretion is the better part of valor.

      In any case, I will write frankly what I think of SSRS. The man’s a sleazebag.


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