‘Intolerance’ of sustainability in Argumentative traditions: Need to shift the debate
The recent emotional engagement of Indians with the issue of intolerance is rather disturbing, considering that we have again and again boasted about the resilience of our argumentative tradition, its capacity to adjust and assimilate, deriving from Hinduism as a way of life, an worldview rather than a religion. That today as a society, we are allowing ourselves to get entangled with a politicized version of the concept of Intolerance is even more alarming for India as a nation. My observations in brief is that, ‘ intolerance’ inherently is not a value neutral concept. One can be tolerant or intolerant, only based on the ethical connotation of a particular event or issue. If one is a neutral spectator to an immoral action, will he be termed as tolerant vis-a vis a person who takes the rightful stand and decides to implement a proactive action against the immoral act. The question here is tolerance of ‘what’ and intolerance of ‘ what’.
This national fervour to proclaim India as tolerant or intolerant nation is itself an indication that we are still very high on tolerance as a society. That pockets and lobbies are engaging in this debate is indeed a positive indicator of India’s resilience as a nation. More so, there are evidences that there is an effort to disarm this debate from its religious armour. This was seen when the recent Amir Khan imbroglio was defended by Anubhav Sinha Director of PK who tried to bring the onus on the media and its selective indiscretion.
However, in this entire rhetorics what manifests is the failure of the rational middle class and eminent institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University to sieve out social deviance and value degeneration from the so called idea of growing religious intolerance in India and politicization of vital social issues. Even greater failure was in the part of so called recognizable social voices such as Amir Khan recently, intellectuals who protested by returning national awards, public figures, visionaries and social leaders who rather irresponsibly displayed malignant indisposition and completely failed to direct the debate into constructive domains of rational thought . It is indeed disgraceful to see a nation like India getting so embroiled in viewing intolerance within a political agenda, that it totally overlooked the socially deviant and criminal nature of this events. Also, that not everyone who was talking against the incidents was necessarily implying a generic trend of intolerance as a whole. What complicated the scenario further is the irresponsible and rather impulsive outbursts of public figures ,who either deliberately engaged or unintentionally fell prey to the political motives.
It is apparent that there is lack of direction, and equally motivated search for a direction, in the Indian social fabric. There is also an increasing incapacity of institutions to create leaders of the stature of Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel who could steer,mentor and guide the collective conscience of this dynamic nation towards a constructive path of nation and character building. Mr Modi’s efforts in this direction has to be appreciated going beyond narrow political agenda. His popularity among the Indian Diaspora points to the increasing demands of an evolving transnational Indian nation. His efforts in the beginning of his tenure to address the school children of the nation on children’s day, and directly interact with school children via ICT and address their queries individually was indeed an effort in that direction. The lack of focus in deliberating right choices is a reflection of foundational weakness in our national character and value consciousness. A situation that has been created by the breakdown of institutions that contribute vital societal functions such as value orientation and goal attainment in society, such as family, community, education and polity. The Bihar cabinet formation points to a dire situation, it is a sad state where political goals are allowed to be manipulated by uneducated and doubtful ethics of politicians. It is here where the intolerance debate should be located right now. Can we as rational thinking citizens, tolerate the increasing role played by undeserving politicians with such dire educational consequences to architect and engineer our national destiny.
What is now urgent is that we clearly shift the location of the debate of tolerance from being a simple political bickering to where it really needs to be. What does India as a nation, really need to be tolerant and intolerant of ?. Instead of being part of the ploy of a defunct social system which is increasingly driven by deviance and value degeneration, incapable of imparting any constructive direction and guidance, we need to find ways to revive, rebuild and energize institutions, leverage on modern education and rationalization of values and strengthen their capacity to address social change, universal justice, equity through value regeneration. Grave challenges like religious intolerance, ethnic conflict, poverty, environmental degradation will automatically find the most conducive solution.