Of late there is a consistent talk of Intolerance in India. What is Intolerance? Who are the once facing intolerance and who are its creators? The answer is: it is created ‘for the people and by the people’ of India. It seems that the proud unity and brotherhood of this democratic country is under question. There is need for introspection.

The onset of the storm was perhaps from the time of misplaced criticism of Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s thought- his provoking address to the All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat on the event of its golden jubilee. The occasional attacks by ‘majoritarian groups’, seemed to signal the change in attitude.

Certain issues during September this year seemed to hydrate circumstances such as ‘pseudo-religiosity’ and ‘majoritarian inevitability’. One related to the ban on the sale of meat during the Jain festival of Paryushan and another more unfortunate incident, was the lynching of a Muslim by a predominantly Hindu mob in Dadri (UP), alleging him in the consumption of beef on the forbidden land of Dadri which is enmarked, by some, as a pre-planned attack, rather than an accidental one.

In the following month i.e., in October Shiv Sena compelled Pakistani Singer Ghulam Ali to expunge his pre-scheduled concerts in Mumbai and Pune. Moreover the Bihar election became a major reason or the oxygen of the prevailing intolerance.

Meanwhile quite a few returned their prestigious National and Sahitya Akademi Awards. It was a kind of protest against attempts to undermine secular values. This has polarized the atmosphere, even among people with wisdom. Public figures like Shahrukh Khan, Amir Khan and Anupam Kher raised their views on intolerance and had to face further unpleasant protests.

President Pranab Mukherjee’s appealed to the nation that “the core values of India’s civilisation that celebrate diversity, plurality and tolerance should not be allowed to wither away”. He also remarked that “these values have kept us together over the centuries. Many ancient civilizations have collapsed, but the Indian civilisation has survived because of its core civilisation values and adherence to them”.

The clouds of “growing intolerance” bursted in Lok Sabha on Monday when the House discussed the issue. The Opposition, as expected, targets the government in a big way and particularly targeted those who has made controversial statements recently. The Union Minister of Urban Development Parliamentary Affairs in the Narendra Modi’s government Mr.Venkaiah Naidu said, “some amount of intolerance in society needed to be identified… dealt with firmly” and not “generalized”.

Indeed India is a very tolerant country and we have it in our culture. Allegation of intolerance on such a secular country is a serious blow on its image. Why India is behaving like the neighbor country Pakistan, a country solely obsessed with external threats and challenges. All Indians including the political leaders should look inwards, into their own country, aiming towards refinement of India’s image as a pluralist and secular democracy. This is the time to take certain idealistic steps rather than blaming each other as opponents.

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~ ‘Indian Tolerance’ – into question ~

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