By Saurjya Kanta Padhi*
Aamir Khan expressing in public that his wife has a lurking doubt whether they should ‘quit’ India and Shah Rukh Khan stating there is growing intolerance must be viewed in the right perspective. India is a country of multi-religion, multi-culture with a myriad of castes, sub-castes and languages. The dominant feature of this country is equality, tolerance and concern for the minority or the oppressed.
The apprehension expressed by few, that too by well established persons cannot be brushed aside as a political agenda. If people of the deprived caste are tortured, you neither say it is historically justified nor can you impose Hindi in non-Hindi speaking states. Similarly, it is extremely important to increase tolerance in attitude of all towards all.
True, everything cannot be attributed to Mr. Modi or BJP. But certainly there is increase in the visibility, voices and vociferousness of some Hindu hardliners like Bajrang Dal, RSS, Hindu Mahasabha, and a section of BJP, displaying an attitude of intolerance. What is not being appreciated by many, including Award Wapsis is Mr Modi’s stoic silence though otherwise he is quite an enthusiastic talker with his famous 5 C, 6 D, Mann Ki Baat, etc.
Mr Modi, if he wants to be remembered in history-as a common Chaiwala who become the head of the world’s largest democracy, a man quite appreciated by the foreign diaspora, his strong bonding with world leaders and a leader who is perceived as having a strong commitment to the poor and downtrodden-he must speak out and assuage the feelings of all, including the minority.
He must also divest Amit Shah from the business of the party, as winning elections is not the sole objective of a political party; winning the hearts of the people of India is more important. Democracy can build a person from nowhere and can equally dump a person sitting in a high citadel. In fact, this is the sweetest aspect of democracy and Mr Modi should remember it.
However, having said all that, I must advise Aamir and the likes that India is not an intolerant country. As Mr. SAeed Naqvi said, tolerance is in India’s DNA. The fact that the movie PK was released in India and was hugely successful shows that Indians are extremely tolerant and secular. I think that the entire issue of ‘tolerance’ should be given a decent burial and aberrations and vitriolic comments by few loud-mouthed Hindu fundamentalists do not represent the collective wisdom of the people.
In India, we suffer from very serious defects and lacunas but religious toleration is one of our forte. Neither the liberals, the intellectuals nor types of Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan should further give fodder to the 24×7 news channels and keep this non-issue alive. We have many more serious problems in this country like hunger, illiteracy, poverty and sickness and we need not get ourselves further bugged by this issue.
The author is a practising Senior Advocate at the Orissa High Court. The article was originally published at saurjyakantapadhi.blogspot.in. The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of www.odishasuntimes.com