Is India Becoming Intolerant?

Hemant Raj
May 26, 2019   •  9 views
Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit : Mahatma Gandhi

India is a land of so many religions, castes, economical background, social practices, languages and still we stand as a united nation and strongly accepting different religions and customs everyday for as long as the clock takes us back.

India has enshrined both secularism and free speech in its constitution, has been having a curious debate these past few weeks: Has the world's biggest democracy become an intolerant nation?

India hasn’t become any more intolerant in recent times than it has ever been to any religion. We have catered to all religions and cultures and still continue to do the same, which is why we have had Christians as ruling party leaders and Muslims as presidents of our country, not to mention that so many other key positions held by people from all religions, sects and cultural groups.

But beyond the theatrics, the reality is that intolerance is a serious issue with important ramifications - both social and economic. Few instances of intolarancy are enlisted below:-

  • Road rage: Ever stuck in traffic jam, where the reason for the jam was that one of the drivers scratched other car. Now there could be two ways in which the drivers would have reacted, but they choose to fight over it in the middle of the road. And to aggravate the issue the mob would be either honking or standing quietly enjoying it with the popcorn.

  • Social media outburst: Anything we wanna talk about need to be necessarily a viewpoint which emerges out of gossip or social media. There is bullying and hate comments happening to a person's sexual preferences, about association with certain people or about certain thing he or she may have done. We are a nation of vocal population, we just storm on the people we find saying anything else than what we want to hear.

  • Intolerance for food to religion: We have seen how beef is such a big issue in a country where there are all religion coexist. The funny part comes when food is used as a weapon to create a divide between people. And this small instigation gets converted in rage and creates intolerance.

  • Mob lynching: The issues of beef ban and hindutva were there always but somehow political parties have made these issues their main agendas for contesting election and hence the issues have aggravated. The issue is made major concern for keeping the sanctity of the nation.

  • Sentiments used for creating chaos: In January the ugly face of an intolerant India was again on display with protests and violence in several parts of the country against Indian film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s extravagant medieval epic Padmaavat was being released then that time the cast of the movie were given death threats, and all of a sudden the issue just turned into ashes. Where was intolerance then? Nowhere in the picture. When an issue is hollow most likely it ends up like that.

  • Mass circulation of fake news: We often question ourselves regarding the how tolerant or intolerant we are regarding some specific issues, and when we don't have a proper background of the issue we end up being fooled by the social media trollers. There have been numerous instances about how the trollers spread fake information for the benefit of themselves. Sometimes fake death notification, twisted or incomplete comments of someone are shared on the web just to create a fake hoax and create a talk worthy thread to series of people. We tend to share and react to every possible social media news, making us more vulnerable to fake news.

  • Lack of laws: Most of the actions that happen as explained by intolerance are actually because of lack of laws or law enforcement. When we boast about freedom of expression and speech some people just find loopholes in the law to use it for their political benefit.

  • Media hype: Most of the estimation of intolerance or chaos about some issue is through media and we know how biased and clean are these media houses are. We frame perspectives according to what we see on television, and believe them blindly. In the world full of information the differentiation between truth and hoax tends to diminish.

How to Deal with Intolerance

Intolerance should be discouraged and tolerance should be encouraged among people. Tolerance can be promoted by using various methods. Intimate inter-group contact enhances personal experiences to each other and reduces intolerance. Intimate inter-group contact should be continued to make it effective and useful. Dialogue mechanisms can also be effective for enhancing communication on both sides. It helps people to express their needs and interests. Media should select positive images to promote tolerance and understanding towards cultural sensitivity. Education is the best way to promote tolerance and peaceful coexistence in the society. Students should be provided tolerant environment in the school so that they can respect and understand different cultures. Students can better develop the inter-cultural understanding in the tolerant environment. We can get rid of any menace if we act united and competent enough to execute it.