By Gautam Thaker*
Intolerance has become a burning question not only of India but of the entire world. The whole globe is stunned due to situation emerging after terror blasts of 9/11 in USA, followed by bomb blasts in France and England and war like conditions prevailing in Muslim countries. Nowadays, everywhere in TV, print media and at various places, lot of hue and cry is created, all across the country, against ‘intolerance’. Eminent persons, laureates, historians, scientists and authors are returning the awards conferred upon them.
Due to incidents like Dadri carnage, assassination of Dr. M. M. Kalburgi, eminent intellectual of Karnataka, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, and Comrade Govind Pansare, murder of Dalit children in Haryana, ban of cow beef, intolerant treatment meted out to Sudhindra Kulkarni in Mumbai, protest and boycott of functions/concerts of Gulam Ali, interference of religion in education, all leading to increased intolerance, a serious danger has been posed to the unity and integrity of the nation. It appears that a scenario of fear, non-endurance and threat has been created.
What had happened in Kerala House in Delhi regarding forced feeding of beef was the biggest form of injustice besides being shocking and shameful. Is it that government shall decide what the people should eat? Due to this, it was being felt, as if there is an attack on cultural homogeneity, personal choice and freedom and democratic rights of the people. Is this a game plan for creating pluralism in the society?
Even though a period of one-and-a-half years has elapsed since the N.D.A. Govt. came to power, there are nowhere any signs of development. Economic recession coupled with price rise is getting deeper and denser. Problems like unemployment, malnutrition, suicides by farmers etc. have risen. Disappointed by all these, disillusionment of people about promise of ‘good days ahead’ had led to widespread agitation, disturbances and tension, and the government had no other option but to find a way out.
Based on differences of caste, community etc. an atmosphere of intolerance and feelings of hatred are being created. Atmosphere of intolerance, violence and hatred is deliberately created and is being politically encouraged. Direct attacks on the freedom and speech and expression are being made. Most regrettable and reproachable point is that members of ruling party are providing encouragement to such types of violent incidents and silence on the part of the Prime Minister goes to prove that this government is committed to that ideology. Looking at the atmosphere of hatred, fear and intolerance throughout the country, it seems that all these matters will drag the country back into the ancient age.
In the last decade, there has been considerable progress on the economic front in India. After evincing interest in the industries, infrastructure etc., many investors of the world has come forward to make investment. They all had felt that development of India is being made responsibly by using latest technology. In case politics in India becomes unstable and if there is rise in tension and intolerance, then the prospects of attracting investors may become impossible. If such an atmosphere persists in the country then it is obvious that there may be an impact on the credibility of development.
While expressing his concerns, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that to suppress the voice of protest is a major danger sign against economic development of the country. Since, at present, attempts are being made by certain violent and extremist groups to choke off the freedom of expression, how would it be possible to make progress? Peace in the country is essential for economic development and growth. For survival of republic India, secularism and pluralism are very important.
Excesses committed in the name of caste are not acceptable at any cost. Religion can never become a basis of government policy framework. When all this is being talked about by a ‘mute’ person, then one must understand its seriousness. Moody’s Analytics, while discussing on the incidents of instigation and violence against minority, has in its report, made criticism as to whether developmental economy has sidetracked from its axis. Since discussions against anti-intolerance campaign are obviously made in foreign media, it is not understandable as to how foreign investment would be attracted. At such a point of time, the Prime Minister states that to bring about a change in Indian economy is not a short distance run, but a marathon.
It becomes easily established that the ideology of Sangh is not tolerant. They believe in dividing the society. Due to thoughts of Dinanath Batra and orthodox institutes, the country has today become a victim of communal pluralism, insecurity and intolerance. A number of Parliamentarians are making rampant speeches and raising issues, which would provoke reactions. Ministers and leaders of the government are shamelessly uttering speeches as per their sweet will, which has caused loss of face, both of the government and of the party, at the world level. At such a point of time, when the Prime Minister remains silent then what does it mean? Efforts are constantly being made to fan the flame of communalism, instead of extinguishing it. How can one talk of intolerance in a country known for collective and combined history and culture? There is a need of the hour to explain all of them that there is no way out for the good of the country in absence of peaceful coexistence.
At present, lakhs of Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and Christians are compelled to live under terror. It is sad that the leader of the Sangh talks of discontinuing the reservation policy and efforts are being made to use government machinery to deprive a large section of society of their rights, interference is made in the educational system of the country as also to dispense with scientific temperament and scholastic pursuit. People are also worried about the pressure for reconversion.
Regime of N.D.A. came to power in India one in May 2014. There has been a clearly visible policy of the government that it talks of development but its alliance partners and institutes are simultaneously pursuing the ideology of Hindutva.
A baseless talk has been going around that policy of Family Planning will lend Hindus into a minority in the future. The government has added fuel in the fire by terming the trend of ‘returning of awards’ as a planned revolt. As a matter of fact, there cannot be any religion of the government. Simultaneously, it is being told that the Prime Minister himself has become more of a victim of intolerance. For those, who were responsible for carnage of thousands of people in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and in the violence arising out of Emergency clamped in 1975, they have no moral right to talk anything in the matter of intolerance.
In the face of all these thoughts, the atmosphere has become all the more controversial and stormy instead of being quiet. In view of this, the government should take mature steps instead of merely resorting to intellectual prowess and tall talks. Political stability of any country is the foundation of its progress. As a matter of fact, situation at present is such that due to intolerance, advice has to be given to the people for preserving democracy. People have to be explained that still we are standing as a united nation thanks to cultural values. H.E. the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee has rightly said that India’s civilization has been surviving since last 5,000 years because of tolerance, humanism and pluralism and that should not be abandoned under any circumstances.
The Prime Minister and his party shall have to adopt a stern stand to advise his colleagues to observe restraint in their words and deeds. Before the ideology and activities of the extremist groups spread far and wide, effective steps by law will have to be taken. It is very much essential to see to it that human dignity and human fundamentals, which are enshrined into our Veda, Ramayana, Upanishad, are being guarded and spread out far and wide. As the entire structure of our society is consisting of elements of tolerance, it is the responsibility on the part of every sensible, broadminded and progressive citizen of the civic society to preserve this structure.
It is the responsibility of all of us to maintain harmony of democracy, secularism and various cultures, which form the basis of our constitution, so as to overcome such acts of violence, hatred and intolerance. It is essential that such a democracy is established which can resolve the issues with the help of liberal values and thoughts, best democratic values, deliberation and compromise. When there is an indispensability on the part of the government to impartially explain and persuade different religions, castes and the people about the real religion, let us hope and wish that it may succeed in its endeavours.
*General Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat