Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Circus called tolerance and intolerance debate.

Now a days there are heated discussions going on in India on the issue of tolerance and intolerance. Every news channel is having some panel discussion to decide whether India is getting more intolerant or not, on social media some people are busy in proving that intolerance is on rise and some are fiercely contesting this claim by abusing them for raising this issue. The issue has become so important that it is being discussed in parliament also! I personally value quality of tolerance a lot and have written couple of posts related with this topic, one is about why we need tolerant society and another is about my own experience of intolerance in Indian society. Now let's come back to this topic of debate over this issue of intolerance (or tolerance), if you listen to most of these debates then any sensible person can easily understand how misplaced these people's expectations are about tolerance and intolerance. Somehow tolerance is equated with complete acceptance or no objection or submissive type of behavior and intolerance is equated with any objection or strong comment or dissent against your own views. So if I object to anyone's statement then I am being intolerant, if I say anything against any religion or person then I am intolerant, if I don't react to abusive statement then I am tolerant, if I don't express any dissent about anything then I am tolerant. Basically, either you are with me or against me, there is no middle ground. Also there is huge confusion about where 'freedom of expression' fits into all this? I don't even know if these people know that there is something called freedom of expression. So first question everyone should try to ask is, do we accept that people have freedom of expression or not?

Now let's proceed in step wise manure as this topic seems to be very complicated. If there is a freedom of expression, (with some reasonable restriction like no incitement of violence), then anyone can say anything as long as it is not a incitement to engage in violent act. So they need to agree on this first, if people have freedom of expression then they can say express their opinion. That opinion can be anything, like some people should leave this country or I don't feel comfortable about current atmosphere or whatever. So any Yogi, Sadhvi, minister, writer, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, atheist, actor or whoever it may be can say whatever they want and no one should challenge their right to say those things as they are not doing anything unconstitutional or illegal but just using their basic right of freedom of expression. Making any statement or agreeing or disagreeing with someone doesn't make anyone tolerant or intolerant. It all depends on our actions and behavior towards each other, it depends on our attitude towards person with whom we disagree, it depends on how we react to those statements with which we agree or disagree. Just look at the reactions from both sides and you will understand what I am talking about and why I call this debates a big 'circus'. I personally have no objection over any Yogi, minister or actor's expressing their opinions, they have total right to do that. I cannot question that right. I may or may not agree with their statement, I may have very strong objections to contents of some those statements but that person has equal rights to express him or her like me or anyone else have. But it seems people don't understand this simple thing, most of the reactions are like, how dare he or she say this? He or she should be punished or kicked out of country for saying this or let's boycott them for expressing their opinion. I mean common, at least first try to understand what that person said, debate and discuss that topic in detail and then come to any conclusion. But it looks like people are more interested in delivering verdicts of guilty or non guilty rather than resolving the issues and having any meaningful discussions. Atmosphere is getting so polarized that it seems there is no possibility of any middle ground where people can agree to disagree and move on. Even in parliament the discussion is well below the required level, it is not that I expected it to be any different that whatever is going on in TV studios but if you are putting some circus then at least make it somewhat entertaining. I guess recent protests or even this so called 'award wapasi' movement was actually to protest against increase of physical violence which is ultimate form of intolerance. I don't this it has anything to do with change of government or who is PM or who is president. Government should have taken these protests in right spirit rather than taking it personally and trying to dismiss them altogether and thereby giving them lot of media coverage. Addressing concerns of these people might have stopped this issue from becoming a national time pass. I also don't know why people complaining about intolerance want to paint the picture as if today in India you can not say anything against current government, it seems both sides are only interested to go to any extreme just to prove their point.

Tolerance or intolerance shows in our behavior. Tolerant person or society or country don't have to say that we are tolerant or give any proofs to prove that, their behavior is enough at the same time intolerant society or person don't have to accept that they are intolerant their behavior is ultimate proof of who they are. Many times our actions speak louder than our words, so I think people should focus on their actions and let those actions speak for themselves. I don't this this shouting about any correction in behavior is going to bring any desired change, each person should correct their behavior and automatically it will bring change in society or country. I hope both sides understand this otherwise this issue will become another never ending topic of Indian politics like secularism and communalism.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1 comment:

  1. The whole notion of freedom of speech is nonsense. If someone objects to someones opinion and someone does not like it then these people are called uneducated, oh they should say something else --as you implied in your blog.

    Well its their freedom to express their statement which some people label as anger and blah blah blah. Its all about what one likes and does not like. Freedom of speech is overrated and a get out clause to beat the other guy when they disagree with ones opinion.

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