If you have been in India in the last couple of months, you will not be faulted if you came to a conclusion that the word “Intolerance” means something which adds 2% to the country’s GDP every year. Like they say of GST for example. The “Intolerance debate” revolving around if India has become a terribly intolerant nation these days has been hogging headlines in Newspapers, Prime time news and keeping social media busy. From whatever I have seen, there are 2 narratives in this debate. One which is typically the left of centre position that says that post Narendra Modi’s ascent to the 7RCR, there has been growing intolerance in India as manifested in day to today statements from ruling party leaders and the silence or rather the failure of the PM to rein in these. Apart from tearing apart the Govt. many from this side, kicked off what is now known as the Award Wapsi as a mark of protest. The other which is the right of centre – proclaims that there is nothing of that sort and all’s well. And they keep reminding that there were enough facets of intolerance before BJP came to power as well and that time there was hardly a semblance of protest. And may be the old patriarch L.K.Advani would like to call it the “Pseudo Tolerance” of the Congress times😜. The jumping of celebrities particularly into this “Intolerance debate” like Aamir Khan in the last week added combustion to this raging fire. As I write this post, the fire still lingers on.
As per me, India is as tolerant now as it was all along or it is as intolerant as it was all along. We have been seeing that for any issue, while there is a majority opinion which leans on tolerance there is a fringe opinion which is the opposite. Depending upon the issue in hand, this intolerance has been surfacing irrespective of the party in power. And intolerant behavior has emanated from all religious groups again based on the topic of the day. So to me, India has been always tolerant or intolerant whoever has been in power notwithstanding.
So why is this spectre of intolerance looming large today?
The answer is – “Blame it all on technology”. 10/15 years ago before the explosion of media and the advent of the liberator called social media, a loose intolerant comment by a political leader never got reported due to the tyranny of distance. Even if it did, it was in the local newspapers and never got amplified like it is today. Once reported, it may be discussed in Coffee House Addas in the evening in Kolkatta or if it’s Kerala in Nair Tea stalls the whole day. In Mumbai, may be in suburban trains by those privileged who managed to get a seat that is. Or lunch time discussions in offices. So acts or statements of intolerance had very limited scope for discussion and amplification. But today it is completely different. Thanks to 24*7 news channel proliferation and competitive journalism any statement by a loose cannon even in the remotest part of the country gets recorded and flashed across as Breaking News. And its tweeted by news agencies. These get retweeted. Copied and posted with opinions on FB walls. Gets shared on multiple WhatsApp groups (and I know of very few individuals who are not part of WA groups these days in Urban India😜😜). Blogs get written like this one😜. Memes get created and circulated. All this feeds the coal for the “Outrage factory” and it steams in with full capacity. So first the main stream media and then social media picks up any stupid, nonsensical or controversial rant/comment and provides what I call as the “viral velocity”. So opinions and counter opinions which were expressed only among few within four walls today are discussed, commented upon, value added thro social media vehicles and reach multitudes. The result is there for all of us to see.
As the Finance Minister said that the other day and rightly so – some body from the party makes a provocative statement somewhere and the PM is expected to make a statement on the same the next day. In today’s “viral” times if the PM is expected to keep a tab of all these and make statements denouncing the same, then he needs a separate ministry called “Ministry of Condemnation” with a Cabinet Rank Minister😜😜.
India today is in the cusp of breaking its shackles and grow fast as an economy. The world is looking at us and wondering if this time it’s for real or we are going to flatter to deceive. Once again. We are at a sweet spot to lift thousands from below poverty and become a developed nation shackling our ever “Developing nation” tag. For that we need to focus on the economy and have minimum or no distractions. “A Distraction a day will keep India in bay!!”😃😃
The winter session of the Parliament should discuss and debate on the impending legislations which will add % points to the GDP. And not waste time on historical topics like socialism, secularism and Intolerance,… If we have “tolerated” technology as a means of bringing positive change to our lives, we must also accept the side effects. Of aiding frivolous causes. So Aamir should relax and ask his wife to relax as well.
If at all as a country we needed proofs of our tolerance, there are the roads, our infrastructure and many politicians who continue to come in the way of our country’s march ahead. But for our benevolent tolerance of these we will still not be rooting for Bijli, Sadak, and Paani in the 21st century.
This is my 100th post. A big thank you for “tolerating” my posts in the last 3 years ever since I started blogging and gave wing to my New Year resolution in 2012. But for your tolerance, support and very liberal encouragement I would not have got the courage to continue. So if this one New Year resolution indeed worked, it is thanks to you🙌🙌
Toon Credit: Manjul