Now with even Aamir Khan joining the fray of outspoken intellectual liberals by expressing his views on the supposed rising intolerance in India, this whole scenario is taking a dirty turn. Accusations flying left right and center and more and more individuals joining the “debate of the century”. It seriously has started to stink… A stench that is rapidly spreading across the world and giving my beloved country a bad name.
Last year we were called the “Rape Capital of the World”. I do not intend to close my eyes to the cases of sexual violence on women of our country, but what surprises me is that we were given the title bypassing countries like Ethiopia, Lesotho, Belgium, Sweden and the USA – all of whom have a more dismal record than us.
Now we seem to be competing for the title of “Most Intolerant Nation”… And I will not allow that to happen. I do not intend to put my points across by mentioning how tolerant we are by allowing non Hindus to rule the box offices or the fact that
Let us get a few things straight first. This goes out to all those who claim India to be intolerant.
You have no idea what religious intolerance is. Yes, I mean that. This diaspora of intellectuals have lived in India all their life and the moment they feel slightly uncomfortable they decide to go up in arms. Before you claim that India is intolerant I strongly suggest that you live in any Middle Eastern country for a few months. I suggest the Middle East because it would be easiest for most who are reading this to relate to.
Let me describe how the religious life is here in a nutshell. You can be arrested for bringing in any religious book into any of the countries. There have been instances of windshields of cars being smashed because there was a cross on the dashboard. Saudi Arabia requires all women regardless of their faith to wear the traditional religious wear called Abaya. Temples and churches are discreet if allowed. You are not allowed to openly discuss or propagate any religious other than Islam. Most of all, any instances of sacrilege usually are awarded the biggest of all punishments. On and during the holy month of Ramadan, not only do Muslims work 2 hours less than the rest, non Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink in public either.
The United Arab Emirates where I live is by far the most tolerant of all the Middle East countries but still are strict in terms of most of the facts I mentioned above.
I do not think a stray incident of violence and the beef ban are factors to label my country a “religiously intolerant” one.
You have no idea what political intolerance is. The very fact that you are able to make these statements in public without receiving any sort of censure from the government is in itself a living proof of the level of tolerance in this country. If you would like to experience true intolerance for reference while you label my country again, may I suggest you visit a few other countries? Let me introduce you to The Middle East once again and China.
In the Middle East, no form of criticism or statements against the government, which also happens to be the ruling family, is tolerated in any form. Try making a statement – It would probably be the last thing you remember. Or let’s move to a country like Syria or Iraq (before the ISIS) and please feel free to make statements about the dictator in power – am will surely have no option but to disown you for fears of my safety. What about China, where every conversation is recorded – online or telephone to ensure that there is no mutiny against the government. Or maybe the fact that China decided to make observing the fast during Ramadan illegal last year be more of interest.
Returning awards is one of the many viable signs of protest which every Indian citizen has a right to. Please do not make this right to protest a joke to gain publicity. Treasure it.
You have no idea what creative/intellectual intolerance is. How many times have we as a nation taken offence to a creative or intellectual piece of work? There has been instance where the mob mentality has taken over and huge uproar has erupted but never ever has it gone to a level where people have lost lives. Let us have a look at France, USA and Bangladesh to name a few.
The Charlie Hebdo incident in France speaks volumes in those who would like to propagate the concept of creative intolerance when a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was published. Or how about the USA where there are public movements against teaching of the theory of evolution in schools. Bangladesh has recently joined Saudi Arabia by publicly flogging a blogger to death for writing about things that he felt he needed to express. Also while we are at this, can someone explain the destruction of the sites of the Buddha Statues in Bamiyan and the bombing of the archaeological sites in Syria which were the birthplaces of modern civilization? (The video of the destruction of the Palmira sites made a grown man like me cry because history is something I hold close to my heart)
Do we even manage to hold a candle in front of these atrocities when we compare it to intolerance in India?
You have no idea what cultural intolerance is. We have existed over 2ooo years as a multicultural society and any civilization that is that old will have instances where 2 or more cultures might not have seen eye to eye with each other. Is that not natural? I personally do not know of any country that old where it has been just peace and peace all the time. To look at cultural intolerance, let us travel a little more.
The Middle East does not recognize Israel as a country or the Israelis as citizens. In fact you could be barred from entering any Middle East country if you happen to have the stamp of the Israeli immigration on your passport. What about the ban on wearing Hijab by France, Belgium and the Netherlands and in effect denying the cultural heritage of Arab women? Or China when they asked Sikh basketball players to remove their turban during their match last year. Isn’t the current Syrian refugee crisis a glaring example of what cultural intolerance really is – refusing people into the country due to fears of losing their identity? And NO… I will not bring up the Gestapo, the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Kasmiri Pandits issue or the state of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh because I believe the whole world is with me in condemning them as among the lowest points of the human race.
So please… Before you brand my country intolerant because of some underlying false pretext that is embedded in you sub conscious mind – STOP & EVALUATE!! Instead of screaming out to the rest of the world fueled by false propaganda – See if you can make a difference with your positive actions.
My country was tolerant, is tolerant will remain tolerant. No political party, self styled intellectual or messiah of the masses is big enough to tear the social fabric of my nation and its 6000 year old culture.
The Rig Veda states… Ekam sat vipraha bahudha vadanti, or “The Truth is one, the wise call It by many names.”