free speech debate

Podcast: Can freedom of speech and political correctness go hand-in-hand?

At a time when noisy debates make for prime time TV and people jostle between offending and being offended, we look at how India lost its capacity for dialogue.

There was a time when the word “troll” referred to an unpleasant mythological character – today, trolls are just as unpleasant, but hardly the stuff of folklore.

At a time when Twitter wars and unpleasant internet campaigns have become common place on the one hand, and socially aware youth are pressing for free speech and against government oppression on the other, how does one navigate the space between the right to freedom of expression and the responsibility to be conscientious and unoffensive?

The fortnightly Myth and Culture podcast by writer and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik and Jerry Johnson, a TFAS Fellow who has studied Philosophy of Political Economy, will bring mythology, tradition and philosophy together for a dialogue to negotiate the tricky terrain of contemporary conversations.

In this inaugural episode, Pattanaik and Johnson talk about why the tradition of samvaad, or conversation in India, has given away to vivaad, or argument.

Pattanaik and Johnson look at traditional and philosophical perspectives on dialogue and why freedom of expression and political correctness need not be mutually exclusive. They argue that the absence of self-regulation – a tool historically relied upon – in public discourse has led to a greater dependence on external rulebooks, which has stifled conversations and the open exchange of ideas.

This is the first episode of Myth and Culture, a fortnightly podcast from Audiomatic, supported by For more such podcasts visit

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.