I think tolerance is a negative word. It has embedded in it a sense of ‘ignoring wrongs’. When I say I won’t tolerate you anymore, basically I am saying, what was already objectionable but was being ignored would no longer be ignored and will be retaliated against. Tolerance thus becomes all about a subjective and imaginary threshold level. Whenever this subjective and imaginary threshold level has been crossed, society has paid a heavy price [84, 92, 02 etc.]. We, the people of India, need to decide if we want to become a tolerant society or do we want to remain an appreciating and accepting society? As a society do we want to be at the mercy of subjective threshold levels?
I would like to point out here that traditionally India has remained an appreciating society. Over centuries people of this land have appreciated differences and that is how it has become a melting pot. A melting pot of cultures, religions, ethnicity, linguistics that also get morphed with a unique local flavor not to be found anywhere in the world. It continues to be so. Such a society doesn’t need any lectures on diversity or acceptance of diversity or unity in diversity, least of all from its politicians. Our constitution very strongly embodies this diversity. I have always believed that Politics has failed the people of India. Our Prime Minister happened to say somewhere that till he became PM Indians were ashamed to be Indians. I completely disagree, I disagree with all force at my disposal. I wrote about this earlier and I will say it again that if we were and are ashamed of anything it is our politicians and that hasn’t changed much. Our politicians continue to embarrass us on various forums and occasions. If we have been tolerant towards anything it’s been towards our politicians and if I may add, we continue to be so.
Even today the question that has been raised is not about India’s ability to appreciate and accept diversity, but it is about whether political parties are ready to leave their politics of hatred. I refuse to fall trap to trivial turf battles between political parties especially because the idea of India is greater than any party or leader. Are political parties ready to accept India with all its diversity without becoming ignorant of their own wrongs [Un-touchability, Shah Bano, Ram Mandir etc.]? If any individual or a group has expressed their discomfort with a situation, they are not questioning the intention of the Indian masses, rather they are questioning the character of politics and politicians particularly of those who are in position of power and authority. Response to such grievances cannot be lecture on how India has been great or why India is great rather it has to be what the politicians are doing to protect this greatness?
The question we ask to our politicians is: We are accepting and appreciative of our diversity but are you? Till the answer is clear, I request all to step away from this territorial battle and be vigilant of politicians’ responses, especially actions, as actions speak louder than words.