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Day 40 – Q 3.They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Comment.

3. They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Comment. 

वे जो थोड़ी सी अस्थायी सुरक्षा प्राप्त करने के लिए आवश्यक स्वतंत्रता छोड़ सकते हैं, न तो स्वतंत्रता और न ही  सुरक्षा का भागी है। टिप्पणी करें।।


The above quote is given by Benjamin Franklin in line with the conditions prevalent in Pennsylvania, USA. Liberty refers to the state of being free within the society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behaviour, or political views.


Franklin’s line plays on the idea that liberty is the thing we would be protecting by choosing safety. In opting to give up liberty in favour of safety, we are essentially gaining nothing. This statement is against the idea of social contract theory given by Thomas Hobbes.

If we get into the history, after the Reichstag Fire of 1933 the German people, in a move that was to prove pivotal in the establishment of a Nazi dictatorship, submitted to a repression that resulted in the suspension of all civil liberties, ostensibly to safeguard the national security. Hitler – having been Chancellor for a mere four weeks – was able to ensure that such a decree was passed by convincing people that the communist party represented a major threat, and his success demonstrated not only how susceptible human nature is to the fear of danger and civil unrest, but also how effectively those in power can capitalise on this susceptibility in order to deprive people of fundamental rights.

The above mentioned quote became point of contention post the 9/11 attack, the government of US has made strict monitoring of data and invaded privacy aimed at ensuring national security. Post 9/11 attacks many surveys held showed that majority of people were ready to give up elements of civil liberty for national security. Even the recent notification by Ministry of Home Affairs, which seeks to monitor data has sparked of similar debate.

The plight of Indian workers in Arab too can be noted here. Many aiming for better life are subjected to harassment by the owners. International communities have time and again been vocal about such issues. Same goes with the lives of refugees, how they are subjected to harassment and oppression, when they seek support of refugee nation (Syria and few African nations).

Raif Badawi, human rights activist, promotes secular and scientific thinking was arrested by Saudi Arabia officials, in the name of national security. He highlights the restrictions imposed on Saudi women, shows how oppressive authority could be and how they oppose liberty to protect their stereotypes.

The global human rights communities have been vocal on North Korea, where people are under a regime that doesn’t provide basic freedom and are subjected to poor living and oppression.

But again, sometimes it might be necessary for national interest to protect the state from any possible terrorist attacks. During Emergency, people might have to give up few essential liberties, to protect themselves from external harm. Again depends on the type of government, how they restore the liberties post such situation. 


John Locke speaks about natural rights to social contract theory, where he stresses on states duty to protect the natural rights (Right to life, liberty and property). A universal concept of liberty does not exist. As citizens of a democratic state, we must decide for ourselves what our own essential liberty should be; we must find our own balance between a security which does not compromise our fundamental rights and a freedom which does not lay us bare to attack. In the face of increasing threats to our national and international security, we can only hope that we are able to remain committed to our convictions, not allowing them to become distorted by fear or the threat of danger in such a way as to permit us to sacrifice one thing for the sake of the other; for only through true freedom can true security exist.

Additional Examples 

Can mention about bonded labour (Brick kiln industry in Tamilnadu), Asia Bibi blasphemy case and data privacy issues etc.

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