The Debate Of intolerance: Which Side Are You On?

Narendra Modi Addresses The Nation From Red Fort On 68th Independence DayFor making any revolution successful, you need a sharp mind more than a brute force. And Che Guevara had a very sharp mind at that. The Argentine doctor was in Guatemala after visiting Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Costa Rica, charting the final leg of his famous ‘Motorcycle Diaries’. Just then the coup in Guatemala broke out. He had to take refuge in Mexican embassy. From there he was sent to Mexico City where he met Fidel Castro. Two brilliant minds then discussed what was happening in entire South America. Democracy was being replaced by Dictatorship all around. And this was done using the tools that democracy provided – Free Speech, Free Media and constitutional liberties. That night, on July 7th 1955, fate of Cuba for next 5 decades was sealed. They decided to fight US backed dictatorship in Cuba together and it was unanimously decided that once they seized power, it was imperative that they put an end to constitutional liberties till they were sure that ‘external forces’ could not meddle into their national affairs. Scientifically speaking, every action has equal and opposite reaction. In context of a society, reaction to every action is not so measured. It often goes to extreme.

But what had happened in Iran, Guatemala, Venezuela, Chile and many other South American countries? If you study carefully, a pattern will emerge and you will see that the first pillar of democracy which could be easily bought and corrupted was media. For simplicity, I will break it down in three steps.

Step 1. Make the media corrupt. Make them give emphasis to stories that have little or no national importance.
Step 2. Create and nurture a plethora of intellectuals. Common people are too busy to understand what is going on but they will pay heed if a group of ’eminent intellectuals’ say something.
Step 3. Derail the national agenda.

When Iran was discussing nationalization of its oil unanimously, its intellectuals were discussing religious freedoms. When Venezuela was challenging the US in 2001-02, its intellectuals mysteriously started discussing Human Rights Violations. Same three steps were used in Chile, Panama, Africa and numerous other countries. World is not as fair as ancient Indian philosophers had envisioned. The tenet of सं गच्छध्वम् सं वदध्वम् सं वो मनांसि जानताम् (we walk together, we speak together and our minds are aligned to think together) does not hold good. Your success is somebody else’s failure.

My younger friends are angry and rightly so. Shahrukh Khan was called an anti national. While I believe it is taking it a tad too far, I also believe that it is a reaction, no matter how extreme. I am not a fan of Yogi (?) Adityanath. And I absolutely hate watching SRK’s movies. But we have see how this started. A plethora of Indian intellectuals have given their awards back. Writers, artists, scientists, everybody has started chanting the ‘Intolerance mantra’. I have no doubt in my mind that many of these are genuinely anguished. But I also don’t have an iota of doubt about the political motivation of most of the others in this group. Have you not seen the photographs of 80 year old ‘Sahityakar’ touching feet of a 40 something Akhilesh Yadav?


This article was written on 5th February, 2015. Read it here:

Let me make it simpler for you. How do corporate houses/politicians make a hashtag trend on twitter? Different people (influencers) are hired with decent follower count and are made to use a hashtag. Other twitter users are tempted to use the same catchy hashtag and voila, it starts trending nationwide. Similarly, if 150 supposedly eminent people, in a well coordinated move, speak the same word at different forums, write about the same issue, the issue starts trending. It takes prominent place in national discourse. Other neutral people start thinking about it and speaking about it. Soon, you are not discussing GDP, economy, FDI, Foreign policy, Education policy, Electricity, National Security, UNSC, Land bill, GST etc. but are fixed on a word – Intolerance.

And intolerance compared to what? What is the reference point here? Intolerance compared to British era? Intolerance compared to Mughal times? Intolerance compared to Maurya empire? Or intolerance compared to previous government where a professor had his hands chopped by goons because he dared to ask a question about Prophet Mohammad! Or ministers in central government were so arrogant that they considered common public’s concerns with disdain?

arundhati_roy_moist_20100329And intolerance claimed by whom? The likes of Arundhati Roy? A known Naxal sympathizer who was quiet when 76 CRPF jawans lost their lives in Daantewada? Or by Munavvar Rana, who got his award for writing a poetry piece eulogizing ‘Maa’ Sonia Gandhi? Or by Nayantara Sehgal who has no idea which era is she living in?

We have been entrenched in a system where चाटुकारिता or flattering your superiors is a must for getting anywhere in life. From lowliest of govt. offices to highest echelons of establishment, it is an unwritten rule. When you make a deal with the devil, he comes back later for his pound of flesh. You give him the pound of flesh and more in greed of a better deal. Sadly, many of these intellectuals got their awards under this scheme.

Question the government all you want. That is your right. But for god’s sake don’t label the entire country intolerant because of a couple of isolated incidents. Today, we are at the cornerstone of History. After decades of struggle and being tagged as “Developing”, it is our time to stand up and make our presence felt! We have 10,001 problems. Intolerance is not one of them. And if anything, I am intolerant to pseudo intellectuals hijacking the real discourse and people who want to derail the Indian Juggernaut for their own personal gains!

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