There have been so many furors in recent times over India becoming an intolerant nation. Our country’s looked upon intelligentsia from various walks of profession have time and again raised voices on their freedom of speech being threatened. Our so called free thinkers have joined the barrage of citizens protesting intolerance. I do not want to go into individual disputes over who said what and definitely not into some of the silly snide remarks that our politicians have so arrogantly made.
I would in fact like to take a completely opposing stand, stating why my country is an extremely tolerant one. It has been time and again stated and repeated that India is a diverse land with thousands of languages, tribes, castes and religions co-existing together as one nation. We have been imbibed with this thought since our first day at school so much so that it has now become just a mere statement. What we fail to realize is the existing truth behind this statement that we live everyday as a citizen of this country.
Imagine a country like North Korea where every tourist is assigned their own escorts called minders from day one till they leave the country to keep a watch on them. Imagine a country like Iran where any agitation or propaganda against the government will land you in trouble. Imagine our country prohibiting men from sporting certain hairstyles or women not being allowed to go out unless they are in a certain dress code. Imagine a country where communication through mobiles and internet was strictly limited or a country like Eritrea where the government has full control over the media, of what is written and who writes the news. Imagine getting the President’s approval each time before anything is published. The scariest one would be to imagine a country like Equatorial Guinea where learning and writing is strictly discouraged, a country without bookstores and newsstands; a country of ignorant citizens. Imagine women prohibited from driving, imagine if performing and excelling at work had been made into a law.
Now come to our nation where we celebrate Muslims as greatest actors of Bollywood, give asylum to Buddhist lamas banned by other nations, applaud the united agitation of these religions against the British. Where will an Arnab Goswami go if he needed presidential permission before conducting any debate? Where will all the independent candidates go if you could not protest against the ruling party? Where will all the style icons of the film industry go without permission to choose their sense of clothing? and these are just a few examples.
We are an extremely tolerant nation, more than it suits us, we tolerate bomb blasts, we tolerate multi-crore scams, we tolerate corrupt governance, we tolerate brutal rapes, we tolerate illiterate thugs ruling us, we tolerate farmer suicides, student suicides, we tolerate unemployment and the list goes on and so do we and so does our nation. There are always two sides of a coin and I am not denying it on this aspect as well. But maybe, just maybe the very fact that we voice intolerance or the fact that I am writing this article today proves that my country is a bit more tolerant than the entire hype of intolerance itself.