Let Indians be intolerant together!

Let Indians be intolerant together!

- in NGI Blog, NGI Opinions
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India Tolerance


The noise and hungama of ‘intolerance’ is sheer craziness both on part of those who created it and those who are responding to it! The debate and discussion about actor Aamir Khan’s (the man who signed a public petition in 2005 against PM Manmohan Singh for criticizing the US VISA ban on CM Modi) statement has reached a point which proves that craze for the celebrities by a section of the society overrides everyday problems, as if they are going to solve those film-style! Can you imagine how many pages of print and social media and other media have been spent on this subject! Do you think that the man deserves this much attention?

The sole purpose of few ‘literary intellectuals’ returning their awards appears to be a rediscovery of themselves, that they still exist! Some Indian (and some Western) media created a hype for these masala news and the same junta went “Ra Ra”, proving their own conformist nature! When will the Indian mass be cured of ‘sheep syndrome’, abandon their ‘past way of thinking’ and instead ponder ‘here and now’, independently? Definitely people who chose to be intolerant to this kind of silliness, nay, duplicity are absolutely correct!

And let Indian people be intolerant to any suggestion that the head of a nation of 1.25 billion people, namely the Prime Minister must respond, and blame him for every incident on earth? Honestly, let him focus on his job of governance and not as an apologetic spokesperson for all the happenings in the world! 

Actually, the more you pay attention to the noise, the more you are taking time and attention away from the nation to deal with real issues. Honestly, what was really achieved? If there is any, it has taken away focus from real issues, wasted nations time from the path of progress and divided people!

Let every sane person also be intolerant, extremely, against people who hijack national agenda from real-life issues which affect the masses every moment; deeply rooted problems that are much more painful than some rich wife’s feelings and much more impactful than a handful of sad and violent acts on individuals in a billion plus strong nation. Simply ignore and reject them!

Loss of any innocent life is unfortunate. In India, road accidents alone kill around 400 people daily, equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every day. 26% of all deaths (2.5 million) in India are due to heart diseases (half are due to lack of a preventive health care system) which costs India close to $100 billion every year.

Sadly, religious violence in India has been a common occurrence for centuries. On average 100 people die due to religious violence in India every year, and the average number of incidents is around 600. Why did the media pay so much attention to one single incident in Dadri? What role was played by the same media, award-returning intellectuals and politicians during clashes between Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh in August–September 2013? The event resulted in at least 62 deaths including 42 Muslims and 20 Hindus, injuring 93 and leaving more than 50,000 displaced. And how was that violence was started? A Hindu girl was sexually harassed by one Muslim boy.  In a revengeful fight with two cousins of the girl, the Muslim boy died. Then the two brothers were lynched by a Muslim mob. This is the nature of religious violence in India.

Why not leave India’s law enforcement and judicial system to deal with any criminal incident of this type as it would do otherwise, why politicians must jump in and use these tragedies to push their own agendas? And why must the media hype it up? Should not they be held responsible for damaging social harmony?

This behavior of selective, spiced-up publicity of such incidents in the media borders propaganda and fuels conspiracy theories – perhaps the Indian media and these ‘intellectuals’ and politicians have an agenda, are serving certain groups with vested interest, and are doing an injustice to the people, the country, the government and the Prime Minister. That’s why it is only fairfor people to be intolerant toward irresponsible media incendiaries who sensationalize select stories.   

And what about freedom and tolerance in India? It is much better than many nations around the world because India has a functioning judicial system and full freedom of press (with regular abuse of freedom of speech by certain media outlets who instead of focusing on real issues, become instrumental to divide people). 

And about beef? It is bad for the planet and our health, let the world awaken to this grim reality.

So, let’s all be intolerant and say enough superfluous celebrity attention and show biz – lets get “back to life, back to reality”!

Now let us talk about the real issues starting with Poverty and Hunger

War is typically a man-made phenomenon. If poverty is not fully man-made, we have the power to eradicate it. How many people are hungry at this very moment?

According to the World Food Project: https://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats :

  • Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth.
  • The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished.
  • Asia is the continent with the most hungry people – two thirds of the total.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. One out of six children — roughly 100 million — in developing countries is underweight.
  • If female farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone. WFP calculates that US$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.

Can we be extremely intolerant to:

  • Poverty, Hunger and Illiteracy?
  • Discrimination based on caste, creed, skin-color, race, gender, political and sexual orientation?
  • Sexual abuse and rape, and elimination of female fetuses before birth?
  • Alarming climate change caused by raising billions of cattle, rising sea-water levels, and the displacement of millions of people?
  • Farmers committing suicide?
  • Child Labor?
  • Corruption, Pollution and Terrorism…? The list is long!

Let India be intolerant to all of the above along with other global issues. Alas! More than a hundred years later the words of Swami Vivekananda are more relevant today!

“And, oh, how my heart ached to think of what we think of the poor, the low, in India. They have no chance, no escape, no way to climb up. The poor, the low, the sinner in India have no friends, no help — they cannot rise, try however they may. They sink lower and lower every day, they feel the blows showered upon them by a cruel society, and they do not know whence the blow comes. They have forgotten that they too are men.

“Bring all light into the world. Light, bring light! Let light come unto everyone; the task will not be finished till everyone has reached the lord. Bring light to the poor; and bring more light to the rich, for they require it more than the poor. Bring light to the ignorant, and more light to the educated, for the vanities of the education of our time are tremendous! “

India has some major challenges in the eradication of poverty, universal primary education, gender equality and empowerment of women, rape and child abuse, reduction of child mortality, electricity and proper health care for millions and many more.  More than 20% of India lives below the poverty line and has 287 million illiterate adults, the largest population globally and 37% of the world total. 

Can the rich and elite act intolerantly to up-lift the poor and the illiterate?

It is the duty of every citizen of India including the celebrities and media personnel to examine how the current Government in India deals with all these and succeeds. Every citizen of India including the celebrities and intellectuals has a role to play and duty to support and not hinder! PM Modi has raised hopes for millions in India and abroad, but should petty politics let that go in vain! All indicators from around the world are reflecting the signs of Indian economy soaring (http://www.wsj.com/articles/indias-economic-growth-accelerates-1448886206). Let it accelerate and let the bottom of the pyramid rise. After all, Modi’s success is success of all people in the country!

Let us not give so much attention to the so-called celebrities until they start showing care towards the real issues of average people. Let people of India refuse to pay attention to the fringe issues the media sensationalizes and let them collectively force the media to report real issues touching the masses. Can they do their investigative journalism against the corrupt black money stashers? Can they get real info from each Central and State ministry and track progress and hold them accountable if they don’t keep their promises? Can they draw attention to the problems with clean water, clean air and land for all? Can they constantly be intolerant to harmful fundamentalism – the terror and the root cause intolerance to others?

If they don’t do these, instead constantly harp on less important issues, people have the choice to avoid and boycott them altogether and reject yellow journalism! Can all sane people be intolerant to divisive ideologies which fill the world with hatred and spew venom? Can the elected members focus on real issues and cease making provocative comments on less important issues? They must strive to change the public discourse from fringe issues to real issues facing the country today. Can Indian celebrities and so-called intellectuals become extremely intolerant to these burning issues? If not, they must shut up!

Kanchan Banerjee

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