Friday, November 27, 2015

Sickular Vs Bhakt: The 'intolerance' debate in India reveals our intellectual hollowness

The debate over 'intolerance' has led to a strong polarisation in India.

Either you are on one side or you are on the other side of the political divide, getting labelled as 'sickular' or 'bhakt'.

Positions have hardened to such an extent that people are just not willing to listen to the other side.

That's really sad for a country where people claim to have a continuous civilisation of thousands of years.

Centuries ago the great Kabir said, 'Nindak niyare rakhiye...'. 

It is always wise to have critics around, it is not and can never be an insult to any group or society to have critical opinions. 

In fact, it strengthens, makes you do introspection. But it is very very unfortunate when a certain section of people get into the state where they just tom-tom own greatness and refuse to listen to opposing views.

So, if I say, there is intolerance in India, I am a 'sickular' person
And if someone says, there is no intolerance, he is a 'bhakt'

There can be space 'in between' two, the space to converse, to talk. The truth is that there is intolerance, it was always there and will always remain so. 

Society and state remain intolerant towards the poor, the weak, those on the margins. 

And, if you believe, India is a country where rivers of milk and honey flow, you have a right to your opinion but you can't accused those with contrarian position of being 'anti-India' or running campaign to defame the country. 

The threats to send people to Pakistan, to lodge cases against them, to question their patriotism--it is all intolerance. It will not help you in anyway--neither your party, nor your ideology.

Role of media in 'intolerance debate'

Indian media has failed miserably in taking the issue to the masses. TV channels have failed to even present the true picture, let alone educate the masses.

The manner in which self-styled 'national' channels confuse 'right-wing jingoism' with nationalism and patriotism, is a sad aspect of today's media. Those who are guilty of delivering hate speeches are called again and again to studios and given 'space'. 

Either it's Amir Khan's statement or Rahul Gandhi's interaction with students, reports were one-sided and were just aimed at 'senationalism', even at the cost of airing false news. Clearly, there is no sense of propriety and responsibility.

The complete 'doha' is: 

Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhabaaye
Bin sabun bin paani nirmal karat subhaye

[Translation: Keep the critic around you, he will clean your heart without water and soap].