Tolerating the debate on ‘Intolerance’
- January 27, 2016
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Uncategorized
Every time we think the controversy over the debate on ‘intolerance’ has died down, it rears it head again. But one does wonder- why? Everyone who questions the opinions expressed by celebrities on the issue is actually making all the concerns on intolerance ring true. We get indignant everytime a celebrity says that India has become an intolerant country, divided on the basis of different categories of caste, religion etc. and that the freedom of expression is under threat. A very recent example of such a target is Hindi film director Karan Johar.
He was panned by a large section of people who questioned his sudden burst of intellectual opinion and debate on the condition of the country. Some accused him of having a myopic vision for raising alarm over alleged restrictions on democracy and freedom of speech in the country when on the other hand, he had been able to make films like Dostana which centred on homosexuality or a KabhiAlvidaNaaKehna, based on extra-marital affairs. Some even took it so far as to accuse Johar of having being silent on LGBT issues and now pretending to be an activist for fundamental rights.
But this is not the sole incidentin the past few months. There was much hue and cry when actor Shah Rukh Khan spoke about ‘intolerance’ or Aamir Khan spoke about the deteriorating condition in the country. The latter is allegedly not fit to be the brand ambassador for Indian tourism anymore and new faces are being scouted for the same, for according to the naysayers, anyone who speaks like this about their concerns is maligning the name of the nation. The situation is such that comedians are being arrested for caricatures on stage or on TV whenever ‘religious feelings’ are being hurt.
In such a situation, is it wrong when a person says that we are not free to talk about our personal lives and opinions in public? The moment we take up arms against anyone who expresses an opinion different from ours, in any regard- nation, religion, creative expression- we become ‘intolerant’ by definition. Tolerance means that it is okay to take a stance but not at the cost of crucifying anyone who holds a different stance.
However, rather than igniting a debate on people who label the whole nation ‘intolerant’ versus the people who are ‘true patriots’, it would do a world of good for all if we try to understand why people hold the opinions that they do and we might end up discovering a cause that needs to be addressed. Tolerance should not be expressed as charity. Rather, it is a right and a fundamental basis for our country. One cannot say- “We allow such films to be made or such people to stay in India, so we are tolerant.” It should be a right allocated without debate or question. And for once, if we are so incensed on being called ‘intolerant’, let us behave in a mature way, not indulge in jingoism, embrace all opinions and prove that we are ‘tolerant’.