Sunday, January 3, 2016

The (In)Tolerant Indian

“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.”

-    Robert Green Ingersoll

Apologies for the highly clichéd title but you know as Ravi Shastri says, “That’s exactly what the doctor ordered!”

Rising intolerance, intolerance over comments on rising intolerance, intolerance of intolerant people opposing comments on people who feel intolerance is rising…phew! Officially the confusion in India over this ‘intolerance’ issue has reached ‘Nolanesque’ proportions. Someone on Twitter rightly branded this whole situation as ‘Intoleranception’!  Poetically there is a ‘Nolan’ somewhere within ‘Intoleranception’. 

Ok, now I am digressing. Hope you show some tolerance and continue reading….

Is there some iota of truth over this intolerance debate? Are we really intolerant? Or have we always been like this? My personal opinion…yes we always were intolerant and it’s not a trait that we are proud of. But, contrary to what most feel, I can see Indians becoming more and more ‘tolerant’ over the years. Allow me to explain.

More people can be seen jumping traffic signals nowadays. ‘Patience at signals’ has become such a rare virtue that it will soon find a place in matrimonial ads. The maddening rush to reach destination quickly and blatant disregard for law to achieve this is frightening! But the traffic police seem pretty calm and tolerant over this alarming situation (except maybe during month-ends when they have their targets to achieve).

The number of people accepting ‘donations’ as a norm to enroll their child in schools (even at nursery levels) is drastically increasing. Ironically, we have a right to education act! But this hasn’t stopped us paying up donations, while our education ministry is busy editing our textbooks.

Autorickshaws refusing to ply are as common as Kejriwal playing the victim card. Them charging exorbitant rates to comply is the middle class equivalent of ‘celebrity-being-exhorted-by-gangsters’. We don’t raise an intolerance flag, instead, we either end up buying a car or traveling in a jam packed buses in utter inhuman conditions.

The so called 4th pillar of our democracy is turning out to be a huge embarrassment. Paid news, sensationalism has replaced factual reporting & unbiased content. How many of us read an article and almost immediately look at the publisher’s name to determine how much of it to take seriously? ‘Creating’ news for TRPs seems to top of the list in reporter/anchor’s job description. Most of which is templatized. Here’s one sample which I had tweeted…

Yet we sit in front of our TV every night to listen what the ‘nation wants to know’ and derive sadistic pleasure from it! And people say intolerance is increasing!

We have been patiently waiting for 18 months now hoping the government we elected will put its head down and get to work. Unfortunately, they still seem to be in election mode – lambasting opposition, making promises, banning beef to pander to religious sentiments etc. Reforms implementation seems to be reserved as a campaign point for 2019 elections! An equal amount of time has been given to opposition parties to accept their new status. Alas all they have learnt is the art of disrupting parliament!

Let me not even start on topics like corruption, red tapism, bureaucracy, politically motivated riots, vote bank politics etc. My point here is that no one seems to be remotely interested in doing their job - the job they have been assigned or pledged to do. Everyone is just working towards an ‘agenda’ and seems to have their vested interest in doing so.

Many will argue that this has been the case in India since long. But the number of people accepting this as a way of life is exponentially increasing including the newer generation. We continue to ignore these vital symptoms that threaten to change our entire social fabric! In fact if these things continue, pretty soon there will be a new minority community formed as part of our demography - ‘The-Intolerant-Indian’. On the brighter side, this community can hope to be soon recognized by our politician who will provide them with food security, school admissions, job reservations, promises of public transport and other quota based benefits as a barter for votes!

Until then remember…
Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none."
                                                                                          - Edmund Burke


  1. I had no idea it was going to be a mish-mash of the tolerance debate and ingrained corruption. A interesting take nonetheless.

    P.S. - Don't consider this as a sign of grammatical intolerance but it should have been "Them charging exorbitant..."