The “Intolerant” Indian

41 Comments

AK

It’s easy to attack Aamir Khan. Bring up Mela or Love Love Love or his crore-a-pop Satyameva Jayate technicolor tears. But we shouldn’t. That would be petty. Such attacks, we are told, are fine for the Gajendras and the Nihalanis and, by current account, the Khers and the Tandons.

So let’s look at what he has been saying. And so many other countless award-returnees.

Rising intolerance under Modi.

As we have seen, the data does not support the claim. The “intolerance” level has remained the same. But then we are told, that the data does not matter. What matters is perception. Of course the same logic (perception trumps data) could be used to justify the invasion of Iraq (no data about weapons of mass destruction but hey this Saddam is a shifty guy, he could gas his people, so surely we perceive he may have new-killer weapons to use on US), or that the sun moves around the earth (I don’t care what the data says, I look at the damn thing, and I see it move, from east to west) or any kind of prejudice (my perception is that Bengalis are lazy).

Okay. That last one is actually supported by data. But moving on.

India does have a problem. A huge problem. And it’s not new. It pre-dates Modi and will be there long after he has visited every country in the world and every planet in the solar system.

So what is that mitron?

The law does not apply to the strong.

Which is why you can kill someone while drunk-driving and blame it on the driver. Which is why you can steal crores, hundreds of crores, without any sanction. Which is why you can openly exhort men to riot, and then be cremated with state honors.

For the strong, there is always a setting, a jugaad, a phone-call.

Now most of us are weak. We run scared of income tax, we stand in line to get onto buses, we get fleeced by everyone–from policemen to men-behind-desks-in-government-offices. The only time when we get to be strong is when we become part of the mob.

Kill someone alone, and you get jail.

Kill someone in a group, and you stay home.

We as common Indian individuals are susceptible to violence from a group. Any group. Any group with a cause. Khap Panchayat. Lynch mobs. Beef vigilantes. Caste armies with detergent-like names (Sunlight Sena). Moral police. Union workers. Manoos Sena. Kashmiri “Azaadi” folks.

In a moderately ideal society, the law provides the individual the power of the group—a police force, a legal system, and the assurance that if you are in the right, the group will stand behind you.

In India that system has been broken. For ages.

Which is why every political party harnesses the power of the mob from Mamata to Modi, from Amma to the Gandhis. It is the easiest way to make their constituents feel “powerful”, supply them a narrative around which they may coalesce to form a violent swarm. This narrative may be “beef” or “love jihaad” or “Tasleema Nasreen” or “cell-phone carrying bar-going women” or “CPM cadres” or “Bhaiyyas taking our jobs” or “Africans doing things not done in decent localities”. All that changes is the context, the rest remains the same.

This is the basic problem. The rest is all politics. Every political group creates its own prism, lights up the part that is aligned with its philosophy and darkens the rest. So the “seculars” would concentrate on one form of violence and ignore the other (or provide a justification citing “context” and yes you know who I am talking about), while the “Bhakts” would do exactly the opposite, and each would then accuse the other of “selective memory” or “whataboutery”.

What makes Kiran Rao’s statement particularly Dhoom-3 (could not resist that) is that she knows, as well as more or less everyone, that she has nothing to fear. She can eat beef, have a rave party, do pretty much anything she wants to, and her privilege will protect her. By making this about herself (when it is not), she actually trivializes the fear of those who actually have reason to fear the mob.

People like me. I remember years ago, a gunda in a bike rammed into our car, and then started threatening my father that he and his friends would break our car if we did not pay him. There was no one to protect us. Not the police. Not the administration. Nothing. We were not politically connected, nor particularly rich, and that made us fair game.

In this particular case, what protected us was, miraculously, the father of the gunda, who was at that time getting on a bus at the bus stand near to which this was happening. He dragged his son away, and apologized to my father.

Almost like a scene out of an Aamir Khan movie.

This is the malaise. Now if we can recognize this, without the ideological blinkers, maybe just maybe someday we might be able to do something about this.

But till that happens, you know who to blame.

 

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41 thoughts on “The “Intolerant” Indian

  1. Well said Greatbong ! By the way Kiran Rao said she is worried about her children, who might turn out to be not so succesfull star kids. Do the Suneil Anands of the world get the same protection from the mob ? Don’t know

    • Whether they be successful stars in their own right is not relevant. Uday Chopra produces Hollywood movies. Despite the mess that was his acting career, his privilege remains intact.

  2. This was well thought out and the overall diagnosis of the malaise is quite correct. However it might be that we fear ‘bhakt’ violence so much because they claim to speak for the majority; for whom again they seem to have a prescriptive set of guidelines about how to eat, dress, behave, etc. In a country with such a tentative relationship with modernity and individual freedom, this seems truly dangerous to me. As if the suspicious neighborhood auntie is finally having her day. I do not want to go back to bramhinical times. Imagine what will happen to us! And for chilling example is the Republican fringe of America and even more chillingly, the Taliban.

    • Please enlighten us about ‘brahminical times’ with relevant sources and by that I mean anything not written by Romila Thapar and her marxist thugs.

    • A flight of serial hyperboles: example is above text.
      I remember these uttering have similar contents once delivered by a loud, hoarse yet high pitched voice from some ordinary episode of Arnab’s daily samplings (on times now). “there are goon on the streets” ,, “hindutva goons, supported the vicious evil hindutavadi powers that rule India now” … “they gonna dictate us what we eat and wear and say” .. “let me return my award in protest”.

      This perception may be true and by right it should not be contested. After all perception is created by an individual/group/organization after analysing the data that importantly is fiction of his/her/theirs collective/organized biases. However, interesting from me is to see this view about of people living, talking, SMSing, tweeting what sapping in space and time, comes from which level. I am certain its not from the ones who live on the ground lead slightly unprivileged life – “the cattle class”. And perceive the society by looking at it and definitely do not feed on the processed and cherry-picked anecdotes to draw interesting trends in society to write on the blogs.

      “brahminical times” – LOL somebody had too much of education.

    • Can I turn this around and say that we fear liberal violence because they claim to be the conscience keepers upholding values of democracy? Left wing terrorists are the biggest killers in India, committing daily massacres in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, but we are told that they are merely victims of our social inequality. Arun***ti Roy refers to them as “Gandhians with guns”. When a Muslim terrorist massacres people, we are told by liberals to believe in “root cause theory” and to apologize to the terrorist for “human rights violations” by our government in his country or among his community. There is a 57 member block of Islamic Nations in the world who have unanimously declared Sharia the source of all law. I do not want to go back to the age of Aurangazeb. And liberals tell me that accepting the Sharia wallahs as “peaceful” is the civilized and democratic thing to do.

      As for prescribing what to eat, what to wear, until recently, lefties had India under their thumbs and we were told as a nation that we can’t even drink Coca Cola. We are told by liberals that we cannot play with water on Holi, with crackers on Diwali, drive our cars, travel in aeroplanes, buy electricity from Adani/Ambani/any capitalists, have nuclear plants, eat genetically modified food…. So, if I were a liberal, I would think twice before I accused “Bhakts” of prescribing codes of conduct for other people.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. It takes me back to paradoxical qs were and are we equipped enough to handle democracy ? All the institute u mention as failures here are direct product of our ignorance of duties in democracy .

  4. I think you have hit the nail on the head. It is actually surprising neither those for or against Amir Khan are talking about the core issue – virtual breakdown of law and order. This is also symptomatic of what political scientists Mesquita and Alastair Smith call as “small coalition” governments – into which India seems to be slowly but surely sliding into. I would, however, not use Rupa Subramanya’s piece as reference as it has a number of loopholes – some of which have been highlighted in the comments (you have to trawl through the “intolerant” comments to locate them though 🙂 )

  5. amir khan is possibly angling for a rajya sabha seat. knowing his filmi carrier is coming to an end, making social noises so that he gets notice and using his minority card to get himself nominated by a secular party. remember shabana azmi and her antics with slum dwellers before she was nominated?

    • Filmi carrier coming to an end, you made my day with your comment. LOL. You must be living in your own small world.
      As fr Shabana , you will be disappointed that she is still upto her antics.The excerpt below also mentions you.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabana_Azmi#Social_activism

      Excerpt from Wikipedia
      Azmi has voiced her opinion on a variety of issues. Initially, her activism drew skepticism and was dubbed by some as a publicity gimmick. However, she proved her critics wrong and used her celebrity status to emerge as a high-profile social activist.

  6. my guess is amir khan is angling for a rajya sabha seat. he is using social work and minority status to get nominated from a secular party. remember shabana azmi and her social work with slum dwellers before she was nominated? same wheels are been turned here.

  7. We expect Modi to do everything or we will vote for those who will do nothing. Corruption free government has hurt media lackeys and the entire ass-licking supply chain. We want UPA 3 and Rahul Baba with Vadra Uncle to guide him. Once that is achieved India will be tolerant again and Indians can breathe easy.

    • That is so not true. Will not accept the Congress, unless they boot out the Gandhis. Sheila Dixit or Jairam Ramesh are good leaders. But, don’t accept the other face of the congress either(i.e, BJP). Why not AAP or just working, educated independents???

      • Ya AAP? the people who give themselves 400% hike in first session, people who get hugged by Lalu and then claim that they were forced into it? Or the people who claim that those african women were prostitutes, or the people who asked for a CAG audit which was legally untenable, Or the people who do not know what is constitution and setup confrontation for the sake of it. No thank you, I will even take congress over these bunch of disruptionists. BTW AAP’s general secretary right now is Sanjay Singh, read up on his past activities and your delusions about AAP will be shattered to smithereens(Psst. Syed Modi). These guys are as bad as SP or RJD. Congress is better, even with their Gandhi bhakti. Atleast they can get some decent leaders in plural.

  8. It’s like, if you can’t pay your mortgage, they call you a “deadbeat,” but if you can’t pay a million mortgages, you’re “Bear Sterns” and they bail you out.” – Bill Maher

    Whether or not they really are, the impression is that the strong in India are too big to jail. Hence, the strong have to be let off.

    ‘But till that happens, you know who to blame.’ – Since one has to start somewhere, the people who vote the government are to blame. For the people voted in parties/individuals which haven’t enabled the rule of law. There is enough blame to go around. Feel free to pick some up.

  9. Very well written and I would agree with all you had to say. I have something to add to it though. Even seemingly benign friends of mine in FB have suddenly and vociferously asked Aamir Khan to get out, return this awards and money, go to France, Syria, etc.

    While it is easy to dismiss this nonsense, I am somewhat concerned on why have they started becoming so vocal on these issues only recently. I remember the time when MF Hussain removed himself from India (for a somewhat similar issue) and did get a lot of flak for it. Most of it however was from the press and celebrities, none whom I had known personally.

  10. I think the whole debate on intolerance and the alternative can be succinctly represented by the available alternative and a neutral comment upon the same as seen in this video.

  11. Chakas post Bhidu…take a bow…kya analysis hai. bulls eye. take a bow.
    P.S.: That gunda story was very interesting. You need to keep your superman cape handy boss.

  12. Also read on
    “‘The Bihar results came out on 8 November. Today is 21 November. In the two weeks, not one award has been returned, there has been no controversy over any religious commitments, no talks about beef or any other kind of meat anymore. No one is rioting, no one is screaming intolerance, and there is peace in India. We are now discussing pay commissions and other routine stuff. Just sit back and think how the media and Congress manipulated the minds of the nation in the run up to the elections over those six weeks. Good to see that India has once again magically become tolerant and secular.”
    http://www.firstpost.com/india/india-is-good-again-aamir-khan-joins-the-intolerance-debate-after-its-done-dusted-and-discarded-2518748.html

  13. REALITY AND MYTH:
    Every person needs and aspires for recognition and identity. This human weakness is exploited by political and religious leaders. Illusionary division of human identity is done on the basis of religion, caste, race, language, region etc. Real Identity of individuals get entrapped, bundled and lost as tiny part of such unreal groups of caste and religion.
    Whereas reality is that identity of every person is unique and ever evolving. Blend of mental and physical human traits define our identity. Mental aspects including Aptitude, Perception, Attitude, Intellectual Capabilities, Aspiration, habits, Professional skills, maturity of mind, evolvement of Soul etc. Physical aspects include appearance and physical capabilities and developed performance skills.
    RESULT:
    Above division of human identity is at the root of most of conflicts, bloodshed and injustice prevailing in the world. Instead of setting up a system where talent and aptitude of citizens play a complementary role, we have sown the seeds of conflict and destruction by caste and religion based policies. In India, injustice created by such myopic policy of religion and caste based reservations and subsidies is now having monstrous growth.
    WHAT CAN BE DONE:
    It is high time that Government setup lifelong relationship with every citizen – offering social security to each individual and provide much needed identity to every citizen with total disregard to imaginary bundles of identity.
    Government can take advantage of modern IT and digital technology to give recognition to each citizen on the basis of his/her inborn qualities; replace current product based subsidies with direct financial support to economically under-privileged citizens and let each citizen choose the type of education, training and institution to prepare himself for professional world. Maintain record of financial support so that the same should be reimbursed back to the Government, when any person acquires reasonable financial strength. Present system has no record of quantum of financial benefits enjoyed by citizens.

    Irony of Indian democracy is that we trust even most ill-informed and uneducated citizen to choose the rulers of the country but do not trust them about their capability to properly use direct financial support for their own welfare. With this mindset massive amount of tax-payer’s money is poured into product based leaky and corruptive subsidies. Major chunk of subsidies end up supporting people who do not deserve it.
    For Job creation, GOI can support and encourage enterprises to employ fresh – on the job – trainees and promote productive employment. Millions of such job creators will give better results than only Government taking responsibility for job creation. This will help to contain the monsters of religion, caste etc. Let us be clear; human intellect is the most precious, productive and innovative resource; we can solve all our problems if we mobilize our intellect in a proper manner and stop vote bank policies. Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas should go beyond satisfying pride of leaders of selfish cartels; and have direct relationship with every citizen of the nation. Let religion be studied as any social science, without attachment of personal identity to those teachings. We may be mathematicians, scientists or specialist in any field, but we do not imprison our identity and create conflicts.
    Myth has gripped the national psych that job opportunities are eliminated by higher productivity and automation. We are not able to comprehend that improved standard of life creates several new avenues of jobs and there is no end to prosperity.

  14. Great post. I am genuinely confused about this though…”By making this about herself (when it is not), she actually trivializes the fear of those who actually have reason to fear the mob.”. Even a celebrity, protected by gates and security, has a right to feel insecure. Is she is feeling afraid, the government’s job is to make sure that she doesn’t. That’s what all the award-returnees have been saying. Modi came to power with a huge mandate. Even though the intolerance talk is largely congress/media driven, he needs to make sure that he is aware of what is going on and not supporting it.

  15. Very true. Its time we stand up against this. We are indians who want to live in peace .Please keep my children away from hate politics.
    Educated people should not behave in this manner.

  16. In India, an actor from minority community makes fun of a religion of majority community in a recent movie and that movie still becomes one of the all time mega hits; The same actor enjoying superstar status for more than two decades thanks to fans from majority community and he still comes around and complains about intolerance in this country!! Is he effing serious? my question would be WTF you smoking sir?
    The serious and concerning thing is that only few, Khers and Tandons have guts to stand up to this craziness and hypocrisy where largely other strong and powerful celebrities remain silent.

  17. this is nothnig but an over reaction ,why i it that only kiran rao is woried about her children.?what about other mothers.?.

  18. My 2 cents
    1) Does this have to the release of his upcoming movie? As they say, any publicity is good publicity.
    2) Most of the so-called ‘intolerant’ people are fed up of the double standards/hypocrisy of these movie stars/’intellectuals’. As some one rightly points out, where was the outrage (especially from the art/movie/literary field) when Charlie Hebdo happened. Or the fatwa against AR Rahman for composing music for the Iranian movie which allegedly insulted Mohammed. Or the fact that PK rarely touched Islam, the butt of jokes was Hinduism and still was a money raker in India.
    3) People in today’s world are more informed and are acutely aware of what is happening around the world (not just through news (topic will be expanded on in the point below), but also through friends/family). The problem of Islam (radical or otherwise) is there to be seen for all. Let’s say for argument’s sake that the majority Hindus are wrong about Islam; what about the other religions and other regions/cultures/countries. Used to work with quite a few Europeans and none of them had positive things to say about Muslims. Me thinks that many Indians are just glad that the world is waking up to the problem of radical Islam.
    4) The mainstream media (not just in India, but CNN, MSNBC, BBC) are hopelessly left-leaning; which has caused a lot of people to move away from them as news/information source and relying more on their contacts for actual street opinion. The coverage of BLM in US, refugee/immigrant crisis in Europe has been so hopelessly covered by leftist-tinted glasses that ordinary people are getting fed up and mouthing their concerns online/social media. Just got of chatting with a few white American colleagues (who were pretty much left-of center) and was amazed to see how much they are fed-up with the MSM coverage and they have suddenly become ‘intolerant’.

  19. My 2 cents
    1) Does this have to the release of his upcoming movie? As they say, any publicity is good publicity.
    2) Most of the so-called ‘intolerant’ people are fed up of the double standards/hypocrisy of these movie stars/’intellectuals’. As some one rightly points out, where was the outrage (especially from the art/movie/literary field) when Charlie Hebdo happened. Or the fatwa against AR Rahman for composing music for the Iranian movie which allegedly insulted Mohammed. Or the fact that PK rarely touched Islam, the butt of jokes was Hinduism and still was a money raker in India.
    3) People in today’s world are more informed and are acutely aware of what is happening around the world (not just through news (topic will be expanded on in the point below), but also through friends/family). The problem of Islam (radical or otherwise) is there to be seen for all. Let’s say for argument’s sake that the majority Hindus are wrong about Islam; what about the other religions and other regions/cultures/countries. Used to work with quite a few Europeans and none of them had positive things to say about Muslims. Me thinks that many Indians are just glad that the world is waking up to the problem of radical Islam.
    4) The mainstream media (not just in India, but CNN, MSNBC, BBC) are hopelessly left-leaning; which has caused a lot of people to move away from them as news/information source and relying more on their contacts for actual street opinion. The coverage of BLM in US, refugee/immigrant crisis in Europe has been so hopelessly covered by leftist-tinted glasses that ordinary people are getting fed up and mouthing their concerns online/social media. Just got of chatting with a few white American colleagues (who were pretty much left-of center) and was amazed to see how much they are fed-up with the MSM coverage and they have suddenly become ‘intolerant’.

  20. O Greatbong, about your point on data vs perception,if data always spoke the truth then all the decisions could be left to machines, no? We wouldn’t need experience and wisdom and anyone with a fair understanding of the concept of one-number-greater-than-the-other, could be capable of running a country.

    Often what we infer from data depends on what data we are capturing. And how we are capturing it.

    If someone is threatening and abusing you if you speak your mind, if someone else is meddling with what you eat, wear and read, then the deaths due to communal violence does not go up or down. But isn’t intolerance?

    • Nobody was threatened or abused for speaking their mind from 1947 to 2014? Salman Rushdie, Tasleema Nasrin, Sanal Edamaruku..do these names mean anything to you? Post May 2014, which writer or intellectual has been threatened with physical violence? When Kerala declared alcohol ban to be followed by Bihar, isn’t it meddling with what you eat & drink? Is a rumored 8-day ban on meat a bigger meddling than a permanent ban on liquor? Post May 2014, who has meddled with what you wear or read? Provide concrete examples instead of whipping up hysteria.

  21. O Greatbong, about your point on data vs perception,if data always spoke the truth then all the decisions could be left to machines, no? We wouldn’t need experience and wisdom and anyone with a fair understanding of the concept of one-number-greater-than-the-other, could be capable of running a country.

    Often what we infer from data depends on what data we are capturing. And how we are capturing it.

    If someone is threatening and abusing you if you speak your mind, if someone else is meddling with what you eat, wear and read, then the deaths due to communal violence does not go up or down. But doesn’t intolerance?

  22. Completely agree with the thoughts outlined in your post, albeit missing your “language style”.

    Unsolicited judgement on your writing style aside, You have isolated a facet of the “intolerance conversations” that had gone completely missing in every national, street corner debate. However the is another reason for this to happen, which you have not highlighted. In India, economically/ financially weaker sections tends to be subservient as a culture unlike West where the more “weaker” you are, the more violent you are in your actions and views. Its the classic laws of karma wherein just because the next door fellow has a car and you dont, automatically his views, opinions, and actions are far better and superior than yours in every aspect. Hence this crap of intolerance when politicized by the fat cats tends to echo with the rest of the community.

    In context of why a part of India feels its justified and a part of India feels its a stupid debate is because depending on sensibilities, each part feels the other to be inconsistent. If the great actor had shown equal chagrin when a member of his film fraternity was subjected to intolerance (A.R.Rahman); maybe the consistency would have had people clap for him or at-least be indifferent instead of throwing darts at him. A lesser known fact is that Mr. Khan was one of the signatories many eons ago on the petition to deny the PM his visa. Now is that intolerance or tolerance because as a person he thinks its right

    Same reason for the writers and other creative folks who made a beeline to return awards. Had they made similar beelines for other aspects which went wrong, maybe they would have had the respect of the people of the world for this action. Its this selective interpretation which gets the goat.

    Kudos to Congress and the Media however, the managed the “politics” of each of the intolerance tinderbox superbly well (makes you wonder that these were the same folks who were dissed and made one idiotic mistake after another). Be it the issue in Karnataka or the issue in Uttar Pradesh or Kashmir – Law and order are state subjects!! Why aren’t the respective governments in these states being taken to task on intolerance?

    & while I say Kudos to Congress and Media; I think in the same context, maybe the other side of the mess were probably aware of this, but choose NOT to ignore the bait but take it head-on as these are topics which is fair game in terms of discussions instead of why the hell is electricity still not reliable.

    I noticed this “gaming” of the discourse as topics like intolerance, caste and other touchy-feely topics suits both sides of spectrum as this is a better topic to discuss during Bihar elections than issues of job creation, infrastructure, education, economy etc. The Media too happily played ball instead of taking the political class to task on the aspects of what ails the common man as I am sure if they need to take on the political class on GST, the level of cerebral thinking will need to be severely invested in

    Another aspect is if you notice the debate yesterday on Constitution day, it was replete with symbolism on either side. Focus was more on who took initiative in setting up the idol and the bust inside central hall and outside the parliament and 1975 and what not because while they are on opposite sides, all are well fed and the fact that half of India does not have basic services and the other half of India has services which are supremely reliable is not to be discussed at all & given the average age of the MP, obviously they will discuss about 1975 and 1984 and what not, rather than 2015.

    So you have hit the nail on the head, the actual folks of people who face intolerance on actual issues are forgotten and its the fat cats who speak for everyone else

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