(In)Tolerant India

A lot has been said, discussed and argued about the tolerance/intolerance of India in last 2 months. And now since Bihar elections are over, the brouhaha seems to have subsided.

I have seen many arguments on Facebook and Quora on the above topic but have never participated much into it as it seemed to be a battle between left and right wing of the country and I being a centrist, couldn’t fit in these arguments. See, the problem we centrists face is that the people are so desperate to paint you as a leftist or a rightist, no one believes in the grey area.

Returning to the topic, if you ask me if India is getting more intolerant, I would say no. And if you ask me if India is tolerant, I would again say no. It might sound a “thali ka baingan” type attitude but it is actually true. We are not a tolerant country and we have a long history to prove that. Every year, books get banned, movies see violent protests, people are harassed for saying what they feel is right, rationalists and atheists are nowhere to be seen in public debates and all of this because they “hurt” someone’s “sentiments”. Same is the case with religious intolerance. The number of riots that have happened in this country are a sad testimony of that. There’s a friction between the two biggest religious comunity in India and this sense of insecurity and inflammable attitude is mutual. All this has been there for a very long time. This is not the first time that Mohammad Akhlaq has been murdered by fanatics. Many Akhlaqs have been killed over the years because of this hatred which rests in dark corners of many people’s hearts.

People are sitting on a pile of insecurity, discomfort, jealousy and sense of superiority; politicians just give it a spark and we people are ready to explode. Of course the number of people who actually commit violence in the name of religion is very low, but the number of people who silently or vocally support them is much higher.

People might feel that intolerance is on a rise when they hear statements of people like Adityanath, S H Sakshi, Prachi, Owaisi etc. but here’s the thing: these people were not born yesterday and they are not the first generation of bigots that this country has seen. They and people like them have always been there. It’s just that they are getting more attention nowadays, thanks to the circus media houses.

We have always been this intolerant a country, and please do not give exceptional examples or cite history to prove this wrong. Exceptions do not define the general trend, and history is not relevant in assessing everyday scenario. Indians are intolerant and not only a particular community, but all groups, be it Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs or Christians or any other. It’s an Indian problem and people should acknowledge this and try to make things better.

We need to learn how not to get our butts hurt by mere words. If you disagree, argue but don’t start abusing or asking them to leave the country. Until we don’t learn how to do that, things are not going to get better for our country.

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