There is a point in the book, The Free Voice, when Ravish Kumar writes, ‘To prevent anybody from speaking is a form of terrorism, too. To create an atmosphere of fear and suspicion is also a form of terrorism.’ And by writing this book, Kumar fights that terror, while also encouraging his readers to speak up.
The book starts off by Kumar describing his daily struggle, how is a favourite of trolls and is often cautioned by his near and dear ones to realise the consequences he might have to face for speaking out so boldly.
The first chapter, ‘Speaking Out’ establishes him as a reliable narrator. When we discover that as a child when he was scared he used to recite the Hanuman Chalisa. When we learn that he also had a fear of failure. When we realise he was made to believe that ghosts resided in the bel tree. He comes out like any other person. The only difference is that he’s won over that fear.
The reason why he is still like one of us is that he is still fearful but he no longer has to recite the Hanuman Chalisa to overcome it. Like he says, “Courage is nothing but the struggle to emerge from one circle of fear to another, then another.”
Of course, it is a political book, and the style is very similar to his NDTV PrimeTime show. There are a lot of rhetorical questions, witty one-liners, and thoughtful metaphors. Kumar discusses a wide range of topics including, media, mob lynchings, communalism, right to privacy, WhatsApp university, biased textbooks, etc. Although a chapter on love, ‘How We Love,’ comes out as a little inconsistent with the broader theme of the book, Kumar gives it a political spin talking about inter-community marriages and the need for making our cities Ishq-friendly!
What I liked particularly about the book was the part where Kumar emphasises on the need for the readers to be the people and not just citizens.
The Free Voice has been translated from Hindi by Chitra Padmanabhan, Anurag Basnet and Ravi Singh plain and simple. Moreover, there are some very obvious proofreading errors relating to punctuations and grammar which are not expected to be seen at this level.
The book completes a full circle by the end as it asks us to raise our voice against any kind of hatred that we might feel within ourselves, and then raise our voice against the hatred that is around us.
I’m going with 3.5 out of 5.
To purchase The Free Voice click here