Thursday, November 26, 2015

(In)Tolerance

Modi government, intolerance, secular fabric, bans... these are the current topics that everybody is discussing on, and coming up with their opinions. Here I am with mine own.

Who I am? "An Indian" is the answer most of you wouldn't be satisfied with. You would want to know my religion. Because a part of this debate is also on religious groups. 

I am a Hindu. Now at least half of you would stop reading here, taking my stand for granted. 

Are you still reading? Thanks. I might make some sense, so please read till the end.

I don't want to mix issues, so let me express my opinion on each separately.

Beef ban/Meat Ban :

Hindu people consider cows as holy. Why? To explain that I may have to write another detailed post. In short, and all myths apart (like cow hosts 33 crore deities in it's body) Hindu culture celebrates and worships almost every aspect of nature and life. Anything that gives us something useful, and benefits us, we worship it. And that's how we have so many gods.

So a lot of Hindus don't like the idea of beef. But there are also Hindus who don't mind if others eat it, and some eat beef themselves. So this beef ban is not supported by each and every Hindu. I don't mind if someone eats beef. It's individual choice everybody has got. I don't support this beef ban, and I can assure you there are many more Hindus like me. So I am against government on this part.

Now about the meat ban in Mumbai that was widely discussed and criticized. "Paryushan Parv" is an important festive occasion of Jain community, which is known for it's belief in non violent philosophy and pure vegetarian food. The ban on meat for some days during this time was there since years, even in the time of Congress lead government. 

Again I am against imposing things and forcing people to do or not do some things which should not be a concern for anybody else. But this issue was brought up in limelight only now and linked to BJP government. Wouldn't you get suspicious by the timing of this discussion?

Dadri Incident : 

Some Hindu people suspected that a Muslim family is having beef. On this mere suspicion they got violent, entered their house, and killed him. 

What reaction do you expect? Any man with his sanity intact would condemn this incident. It does not matter which religion he belongs to. This is against basic humanity.

Intolerance :



But to say that Hindus (in general) have become intolerant is stretching this a little too far. It is the same community that has been known for tolerance for centuries. Hinduism is not a very structured and organized faith. It has a mixture of many cultures, learning from every community that existed in India, settled in India, or tried to invade India.

A lot of kings and emperors tried to invade and loot India. People from other religions came with a "mission" and tried to convert people here by all means possible. How many such Hindu missions are you aware of?

"Ghar Wapsi" (literally meaning to return home, in this event, Hindus who have converted to other faiths, were asked to convert again to be Hindu) was criticized a lot. I am not aware of all the facts of how this thing was executed, so if it was forcefully done, or any unethical thing was done, I condemn the execution.

But what about the concept? Missions of other faiths are sponsored by their central bodies. It is ok for others to convert people in other religion. But it is not ok if people are converted to Hinduism? Why so?

If you want to criticize the manner in which people are lured into conversion, then you should criticize that specifically. But bias against conversion of one religion is not acceptable.

There are lot of terrorist organizations who claim to be fighting for Islam, they call it Jihad. So when these attack people all over the world, and people look suspiciously towards all Muslim people, it is said that terror has no religion. 

Good human beings in Islam, condemn these activities, they say that Islam does not teach this, and these terrorists are not true Muslims. 

Same logic applies here. Those people in Dadri do not define Hinduism, do not represent the Hindu community. They chose the wrong path, and we ask for strict action against them.

Creative Freedom / Free Speech / Freedom of expression :

Creative people are claiming that they don't have creative freedom in this country. Random people oppose them and threaten them. 

Yes. Incidents like this have happened, and keep happening. It is wrong. But it is not completely stoppable. They keep happening all across the world.

Movies like Da Vinci Code, The last temptation of Christ were opposed by christian community everywhere.

A french magazine was attacked twice for publishing cartoons related to Prophet Muhammad. A R Rahman had to face a fatwah for working in a project related to Prophet Muhammad.

The point is no religious community takes slights against it's faith casually.

So what happenes in India if someone says something against Hinduism?

A famous painter M F Husain paints Hindu gods as naked, and in combinations or positions which are not described in any mythological book. Does creative freedom mean the freedom to insult gods and beliefs of another religion? M F Husain faced criticism and opposition and leaved this country. And many Hindus were sad with his departure.

Had he drawn something like that about Islam, what would happen? Above examples are sufficient to explain that.

A film "PK" starring Aamir Khan released, which spoke about strange practices in mainly Hinduism, and other religions for token. A lot of people criticized it, but a lot also liked it (including me), and it was a super hit. I don't mind introspecting our way of life and denying a scope improvement if there is any.

As Aamir Khan rightly said in his controversial interview, to protest is our right and we should exercise it in a non violent manner. So I am against any violent act of protest.

Every individual and community have right to protest, but law should be respected as well. The violent attacks I mentioned above, and murders of people like Dabholkar, Pansare are to be condemned.

But when such incidents are happening world wide, to single out a community and call it intolerant is not good. Misled individuals do this, and they do not represent common man.

I am not justifying any violence, but that is a world we are forced to live in.

Returning Awards :

Awards are given to recognize and honor exemplary work done in some field, during that year. The winner is chosen from other competing individuals with equally respectable body of work.

You can return the trophy and the award amount, but how can you return the honor? How can you return the recognition of being that award winner?

When you return award that you accepted before, can it be given to somebody else who performed well that year? Does it matter now?

I understand that it is your gesture. And I appreciate that it is a non violent (physically) way to protest. But I don't see a point. What I only see is it when you use it as a weapon to throw at someone, it shames the government, insults people among whom you were chosen, and the nation.

What I Want? : 

I am concerned that this debate itself is causing much more religious tension than there actually is in this country. It is blown out of proportion. People are emphasizing on last 7-8 months when they speak of intolerance. 

That's what I don't understand. If serial bomb blasts can't scare people at this level, if mass killing in 26/11 can't scare people this much, if continuous violations by Pakistan can't scare people this much, how can few incidents on smaller scale compared to these can scare people for months?

There were and will always be some foolish leaders, who make silly statements. They exist in all political parties. We can do best to ignore them.

I love my country which has hosted all the faiths in world, where people from all parts and faiths of world have come, settled and prospered. 

I see this issue becoming bigger than it deserves, and affecting all the society. The world is looking at India as a land of rapists, intolerant communal people. Is it really so? Are we all such degraded human beings? We need to decide how far do we want to take this.

I want this to end, and people going back to their business. Because this hyped issue is damaging our reputation and diverting our focus from development to these issues.

I think religion should not be our top national issue. There are many deserving candidates to be on that spot. 

Let's keep religion personal and in our home. That's when we are religious. When we bring it out it is communal. Let's be religious (not compulsory), but let's not be communal.