Growing Nuisance of Intolerance in India - Daily Current Affair Article

CONTEXT:

Recently released The Pew Research Center report, ‘Religion in India: Tolerance and Segre-gation’ ( June 2021), has once again sparked the criticism around Intolerance. The report broadly confirms the growing influence of Hindutva politics on India’s social fabric.

INTRODUCTION TO INTOLERANCE

As it is rightly said that “State of India is practising secularism; citizens are yet to become secular”.

  • As the growing religious extremism and increasing violence against religious minorities in India is putting the secular credibility of India at risk, which has been one of the founding virtues of the land of Buddha and Gandhi.
  • All the incidents of intolerance point out the danger posed by majoritarianism [It is a traditional political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a majority (sometimes categorized by religion, language, social class or some other identifying factor) of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the society.

HISTORY OF INTOLERANCE

Intolerance in the Indian society stems from times immemorial.

Ancient Times:

  • There is no doubt that religious sects in ancient India were accommodative of each other. But it is just as true that Brahminical sects “bore huge animosity towards the two heterodox religions, Buddhism and Jainism”, Historian DN Jha writes in his book 'Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History'
  • This rancour resulted in attacks and the appropriation of Buddhist and Jain sacred places.
  • Hindutva ideologues to portrays the middle ages as a reign of terror unleashed by the Muslim rulers on Hindus.
  • The 7th century, King Shashanka cut down Bodhi tree, under which Buddha gained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, and replaced the Buddha’s statue with that of Shiva in a local temple.
  • In 185 BCE, Pushyamitra Shunga overthrew the Buddhist Mauryan dynasty, destroyed the Ashokan pillared hall and the Kukutarama monastery in Pataliputra.

Medieval Times:

  • Medieval India witnessed the arrival of Islam in India marked by occasional occurrences of violence such as Mahmud Ghazni’s destruction of Hindu temples and Mahmud of Ghor’s attack on Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.

Modern India and Freedom struggle:

  • Various incidents during this period stemmed from intolerance towards other communities or religion. For example
  • 1905 Partition of Bengal
  • Faraizi movement started Haji Shariatullah in Bengal
  • Later people like Syed Ahmed Khan, who despite of having scientific and rational approach, projected Indian Muslims as a separate community (qaum) having interest different from others.
  • Formation of Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha after 1937.
  • And the ultimate step, Partition of India 1947

Recent times:

  • Banning of movies like 'Padmaavat' and 'An Insignificant man' shows intolerance towards conflicting ideas.
  • Lynching of a man in Dadri on suspicion of eating beef.

INTOLERANCE AS AN OUTCOME OF TEACHING FROM

  • Family, when the parents and blood-siblings show characteristic of intolerance towards certain communities or religion or caste.
  • School, when they lack to generate sensitivity towards other children which may be of different religion, gender, caste, colour or creed.
  • Society, when they harbour hatred and show violence towards other communities, they indirectly teach to the younger generation.

UNETHICAL VALUES THAT GENERATE INTOLERANCE

  • Intolerance stems from an invincible assumption of the infallibility of one’s beliefs and a dogmatic conviction about their rightness.
  • An intolerant society cannot tolerate expression of ideas and views which challenge its current doctrines and conventional wisdom.
  • Consequently, unconventional and heterodox thoughts and views have to be suppressed. That is the prime motivation for censorship.

CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS

  • Article 25 of the Indian constitution provide all individual “equally entitled to freedom of conscience” and has the right “to profess, practice and propagate religion” of one’s choice.
  • Similarly, as per the Indian constitution, it is the fundamental duty of an Indian citizen to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.
  • Articles 29 and 30 constitutionally protect the language, script and culture of minorities and give them the right to establish educational institutions of their choice.
  • Articles 14 and 15 are the most important guarantees ever envisaged by the Constitution of India whereunder Right to Equality that addresses the issues of discrimination and provide equal protection of laws in India.
  • Moreover, Article 16 stipulates the equality of opportunity to all citizens of India.
  • Further, Article 39 (a) gives rights relating to the means of livelihood sans discrimination.

WAY FORWARD

  • Every year on March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is celebrated. The idea shouldn't be limited to a particular day.
  • UNESCO promotes the role of education in imbibing tolerance in young minds and to enable them to learn from the past, and to stand up for human rights in present and the future.

"Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practises tolerance; let us not dilute it.” These stirring sentiments expressed by Justice Chinnappa Reddy in a Supreme Court judgment in 1986 highlighted an important roadmap for Indian society.

One duty, in the view of the Indian Constitution, should be the duty to practise tolerance. Otherwise democracy, a basic feature of our Constitution, will be under siege and the cherished right to freedom of expression will be held hostage by an intolerant mindless mob.

Sources

  • The Indian Express
  • The Hindu
  • PRS
  • Old NCERT class 6-10
General Studies Paper 4
  • Ethics