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Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Intolerant Indian

The last week or so saw  Delhi , and most parts of Northern and Central India, experiencing extreme temperatures and a heat wave. The suffering was compounded by power outages in the Capital- more in some areas and less so in others. Rising temperatures and spiraling  tempers are a natural corollary and almost par for the course, and this is exactly what happened in Delhi. All very understandable and copy book style.  But what was slightly less understandable was the fact that almost everyone ,and his/her aunt, apportioned most of the blame on the newbie BJP government and its power minister, Piyush Goyal. So, when the Prime Minister tweeted about 'good days are going to come' - the key word was 'going to'-  but it was taken as  now. And so black flags were waved, processions taken out and electricity duftar babus gheraod. Mr Goyal  had to bear the brunt of the  public anger. The irony here was that  those targeting him were  mainly from  the  Congress and AAP .

 If I am correct, the fastest egg to hatch is that of the spotted woodpecker- and even that takes about ten days ; a hen's egg- about three weeks  and  a human baby is born after about 9 and a half months. And all these eggs/ babies are born only under favorable  conditions and all parameters normal. Why then are we expecting the BJP to perform wonders , under  unfavorable conditions - left behind as a legacy of the previous Congress government? We can  discount the AAP here because it did not even make a pretense of governing. One gets the feeling that there is a section out there ,watching with eagle eyes , for the new government to falter, stumble and trip. Does this section not realize that intolerance is, for the most part, self defeating ?

We boast of being ancestors to a culturally, intellectually and morally rich society. Our society is a melting pot of  a melange of languages, religions, ethnic groups. Our country is famed for its ability to tolerate and its inborn and inherent quality of  tolerance Why then have the  people  of this tolerant country  become so intolerant? We are intolerant of practically anything and everything. So:

North Indians are intolerant of their own countrymen and women from  the North East.
South Indians are contemptuous of  anything crawling out from  north of the River Godavri.
The Maratha Manoos is intolerant of its Bihari , and other North Indian ,imports.
The Punjabis look down on anyone with a capability of downing less than four neat Patiala pegs / drinking milk straight from the cow's udders.
The psuedo intellectuals , yes, those warming the wicker chairs dotting the lawns at India International Center snigger at the big fat over the top Marwari weddings.
The Marwaris refuse to acknowledge the above mentioned  psuedo intellectuals.
The Yadavs, the first family of Uttar Pradesh , are intolerant of anyone who questions the right of boys to be , well , boys.
We , as a whole and not quarters of us, cannot tolerate books written on our historical figures, on Hinduism, on Islam, on Bapu,on Rani of Jhansi...
We are intolerant of people who express opinions, they are opinionated, intolerant of people who don't- they are diplomatic.

My friend and I met for lunch yesterday . She was looking a shadow of her bubbly, vivacious self. A raised eyebrow was enough for the dam to burst. Transpired that she had voted for the AAP in the Assembly elections of December 2013 as she felt that Arvind Kejriwal  and his promises, deserved to be given a chance. She knew that she would be voting for the BJP in the General elections of 2014  and  was foolish/naive/ frank ( pick your choice) enough to tell her  family - pucca BJP loyalists - about her decision. Everyone was gung ho about her decision except for the family elder. No, she was not hauled over burning coals- nothing so sophisticated. It was slow torture from then on. So, breakfast time, lunch time, tea time, dinner time- you get the picture?- all times were Kejriwal bashing times. Even when the winter of January proved to her ,and many others, that AAP was all hype and no substance, the bashing continued. As a result, when everyone,  even Arnab Goswami , stopped being interested in Kejriwal and his antics, the topic of a one sided conversation in her house continued to be Arvind Kejriwal and his follies, the slaps that he received, the antics of his partymen, the statements against him...

Whatever happened to tolerance for another person's preference ? When did we become a people capable of showing so much  ire at something which is purely a personal perspective and right? When did the famed coffee house culture of discussions give way to a culture where there is scope only for bigotness ?

A hundred years back we adopted Mahatma Gandhi - his philosophies, his idiosyncrasies, his truisms, his Swadeshi and Swaraj movements ...Where ,along the way, did we drop his live and let live?


  1. Tolerance takes a backseat when it comes to politics, or so I notice. What happened to 'Live and Let live'? People are so quick to jump down others' throats!

    1. Absolutely, Shailaja. We have become unused to having reasoned discussions!