Of late, there has been a great debate about how intolerant Indians (and specifically Hindus) are. Eminent personalities have returned their awards. The situation became grave when few people lost their lives. We witnessed heated discussions on television shows and also had heated discussions with friends and colleagues. Rallies and marches were held – some projected India as an ‘intolerant’ nation whereas some projected India as a ‘tolerant’ nation.
I am inclined to support the latter theory. But my reasons are different.
I strongly believe that India is a ‘tolerant’ nation. In fact, I believe that Indians are the most tolerant people in the World. We are so tolerant that many mistake our tolerance to be our cowardice.
Indians are so tolerant that they have been living without electricity and water for over 6 decades now. Indians are so tolerant that they have been living with bad roads. We are so tolerant that we have been living amidst filth and garbage. We are so tolerant that we have allowed murders, rapes and several unspeakable crimes to become a part of our daily lives – it is a mere headline that we see in the newspapers or on television. We are tolerant enough to turn a blind eye to the police relaxing on the footpath witnessing a traffic jam as if it were something very interesting. We are tolerant enough to turn a blind eye to the man selling pirated movie CDs across our offices, knowing fully well that it is against the law of our land.
We do not mind bribing. We do not mind littering. We do not get hurt when accidents take place due to the potholes on our roads. We are pained little when an ambulance gets stuck in traffic – we only lift our hands up and blame the vehicle in front. We do not care if our lakes are turning into dump-yards or for that matter, our trees are being cut. We do not care if the endangered flora and fauna of our beloved nation aren’t being protected. We do not care about the quality of education that our children get – we are satisfied as long as they speak good English. The list is endless.
India, my friends, is very tolerant.
While the situation throughout India is bad, the situation in Karnataka is worse. We have the misfortune of being led by one of the worst governments that the state has seen. A Government that believes that the best way in which the tax payers money can be used is by distributing them as freebies to the ‘downtrodden’. The Government believes that celebrating the birth of a man, dead for over 250 years now, is more important than giving its people basic amenities. Karnataka is ranked 12th on the Human Development Index (2000) and a dismal 23rd on when Literacy Rates are considered. Despite being considered the IT hub of the world our Government websites look like a joke. Despite Bangalore being considered as the ‘Garden city’ there is no place available to dispose its garbage. Bangalore is the 6th fastest growing city in Asia and it is pathetic to say the least that Bangalore has power cuts for over 6 – 7 hours. Are these matters less important to the government of Karnataka that it has decided to keep everything aside to celebrate Tippu Jayanti?
I am sure that my Muslim brethren would prefer good education, sanitation, equal job opportunities and a life of dignity than the disgusting illusion of importance that the present government is trying to create.
Is the job of a government to bring its people together or to create divides by rousing communal differences? It makes me extremely sad to realize what the governments have done to our thinking. When I see a man with a long beard and a skull cap, the first thought in my head is that he is a Muslim. I do not see another Indian in him but I see only a Muslim. When I see a man sweeping the street or picking up garbage, I see a Dalit in him. Again, no matter how much I search my heart, I will not see an Indian in him. I do not see Indians around me anymore – I only see people of different castes, of different religions and different classes.
It is time we did something to clean up this mess. We should stop interpreting the past on the basis of the prejudices of our present. Rather, let us use this time to build our future. It is high time that we became ‘intolerant’.
“Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles” – Jawaharlal Nehru
…Written on the 14th of November 2015, the 126th year of his birth anniversary.