Unfair to view the rants with blinkers on: By Bipin Sharma

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No denying that in a democracy, anyone and everyone has a right to express their views, but having said that, it also does not entitle us to say something that can raise a serious doubt about the state of affairs existent in the country viz a viz its safety and security, and thereby tarnish the image of our great nation.

If celebrities like sportsmen and film stars bring rich laurels to their nation, their reckless statements have all the potential of being flashpoints which at times could pose the threat of jeopardizing the peace and harmony of the entire nation. Indubitably it makes all the difference when a negligent statement is uttered by none other than someone enjoying a cult status such as Aamir Khan. Khan’s utterances coming at a time when the country’s think tanks especially PM Modi have been going the full throttle to glorify India’s image on the global front, and fervently striving to bring other countries to our terms and conditions.

 

Rahul Chandola

Many consider Aamir Khan’s rant about rising intolerance to be unjustified because the fact remains that he is definitely no ordinary citizen of the country, but an iconic personality of the country who has been showered with boundless love and adulation by his countrymen.

Contrarily, an ordinary person ranting about intolerance would have found more resonance and acceptance with the masses, but not so in the case of Aamir Khan because the superstar forgets that it is this great country named ‘India’ that made him such a phenomena more than 25 years ago with QSQT. The rising protests over growing intolerance in the last few months characterized by the award wapasi’s is even more baffling. Again while there’s nothing wrong in one’s way of protesting, or expressing their resentment in a democracy, one wonders why all those exhibiting their “unique form of protests” never took to streets, or thought of returning their medallions when grave injustice was meted out to the common man during the 1984 Sikh riots, or during the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. The assertion would have been a more balanced one, in case these “voices of dissent” been equally vociferous and passionate during the unprecedented scam ridden phase of the earlier regime, and ensued it with gestures like the award wapasi’s.

The principal reason why many are questioning the present form of “award wapasi protest” is chiefly because awards were never returned as a mark of protest when scams after scams were tumbling out of the closet of the earlier UPA-II regime. Did the country’s image not take a real beating when rampant corruption scams, in particular like the CWG scam came to the fore?

The citizens deserve to be offered a convincing and a logical explanation as to how their “tolerant nation has suddenly got transformed and stereotyped into an “intolerant nation” in just a span of few months.

Strange that even during the Emergency in 1975 which is considered as the darkest phase of Indian democracy, the citizens never contemplated moving out of their country.

Laments ace interior designer and activist Rahul Chandola, “Those feeling petrified need to explicitly express their insecurities so that those at the helm can suggest ways to redeem them out of their existent quandary. By merely hopping on to the bandwagon, and ranting about “growing intolerance” will not resolve matters, until the hassled ones actually devote time to explain their apprehensions in toto. On the other side of the ring are those that believe and assert that the real problem lies in actually the “NDA” having assumed power, and nothing else. The fact remains that some people have still been inept in coming to terms with the reality that Modi is now the Prime Minister of the country. This therefore explains why the issues like ‘intolerance’ are not just being kept alive and kicking, but more significantly, canards being propagated to stall the progress of Modi’s ambitious dream projects for the country. Holding perpetual grudges against Modi seems to be a favorite pastime for a certain ‘cocktail circuit’ as it seems to be the only way for them to trump the indomitable PM. Some political analysts that perpetually remain critical about Modi’s working adopt different set of standards when it comes to evaluating the report cards of other politicians. The situation on ground zero is clearly going to reflect a different picture if the state of affairs are being assessed and viewed with the “blinkers on”.

Sudha Bhardwaj

In a no holds barred tete a tete, activist Sudha Bhardwaj quips, “Going by the present state of affairs in the country, one gets a natural feeling that some parties are incessantly making concerted efforts to polarize and communalize the situation in the country. These efforts get all the more intensified when they witness the minority segments of the society get allured towards the present regime. Some political parties are staying afloat essentially on the basis of their unrelenting divisive politics. In these trying times, when the need of the hour is to be actually progressive by adopting “a positive-move on” approach, frantic efforts are being made to keep the ruling regime and the minority segments at never ending loggerheads. The larger nefarious objective behind this exercise being to pose encumbrances in the progressive schemes of the government. Opinions should not be formed on the basis of preconceived notions as it would result in hampering the pace of development in the country. In a sudden U-turn from his earlier stance, anti corruption crusader and Delhi CM Kejriwal seemed to have discovered a new found affection for Laloo Yadav which is why he buried the hatchet in full public view by giving a warm hug to the fodder scam tainted RJD chief. Strange indeed that in a matter of just few months, the country’s most corrupt man suddenly becomes acceptable for the one of the country’s top ranked anti corruption crusader. Equally bizarre is the veracity that in a matter of few months, a person named ‘Aamir Khan’ suddenly alters the “Incredible India” slogan to “Intolerant India”. After having grasped the finer nuances of politics in the last few months, Kejriwal seems to have slowly but surely perfected the “Art of Politics”. On the other hand, I am sure the people of the country would be keen to hear Anna Hazare’s views on the new found camaraderie between Laloo and Kejriwal. A diplomatic response by Anna in this case would only irk his countless supporters and admirers as people expect him to be candid, and not shy from calling a spade a spade. The recently tabled Jan Lokpal Bill by Aam Aadmi Party is nowhere close to what was promised by Kejriwal during elections. It is unlikely that the outspoken Kejriwal will accept the gauntlet thrown by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav for a full fledged public debate on Jan Lokpal Bill. By running away from a public discourse on the same, Kejriwal is going to be sending a wrong message to all his supporters. The role of the media is crucial to sustain democracy and while some journalists like Arnab Goswami, Navika Kumar, Deepak Sharma, Shekhar Gupta are unquestionably the pride of the entire nation, the role of some journos seem ambiguous as they constantly seem to be pursuing specific agendas for reasons best known to them. Rather than focusing on noteworthy development initiatives, they can be seen nonchalantly working towards creating ‘negativity’ all around by literally instigating one school of thought against the other. If they find the environment in the country conducive for kick starting next level reforms, they will leave no stone unturned in provoking people till they are hard pressed for giving anti regime statements that not only demoralize those working passionately towards realizing the dreams of every Indian, but also create a sense of ‘obfuscation’ in the minds of the citizens. For a layman like me and so many others, I always perceived journalism to be about honest reporting and analyzing of the state of affairs, and not stirring emotions that compel people into giving statements that tow the definite agendas of a few black sheep’s. Such media persons not only have a myopic vision, but also seem to be suffering from sort of ‘selective amnesia’ as they intentionally overlook the undoing’s of political parties with whom they share a warm equation. The very fact that we are getting to hear so much of ranting on intolerance is the biggest testimony of tolerance existing in abundance in India in the contemporary times. No protesting voice can say that the government has tried to muzzle their voices which itself is a proof of tolerance in the country. The government on its part needs to distance itself from the ideologies and the obnoxious approach of the hard core fundamental groups failing which citizens are bound to misconstrue matters, and feel that the fringe elements are being endorsed by those in power. Likewise, the government has to sack arrogant ministers like Anil Vij for misbehaving with a top lady cop, or for that matter, MP Sadhvi Prachi for her regular hate speeches. No wonder, the government has the most critical role to play in ensuring the swift pace of reforms and development for which its ‘think tanks’ have to keep the integrity of the government intact by initiating stringent, timely action against those intentionally and unintentionally trying to unsettle the peace and harmony of the country through their acerbic rhetoric. Pertinent to state that there’s all the difference between muzzling voices and differing in views. The government and their apologists have all the right to contradict and disagree with the protesting voices, and the same cannot be attributed to as “intolerance”. It would have been justifiable to term it as “Intolerance” had the government of the day initiated actions against the protesting voices, but since nothing of that sort has happened, it would be grossly unfair to accuse the government of being ‘intolerant’. The fact that no action has been initiated against Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyyar for denigrating the office of the democratically elected PM of our country on the Pakistan soil is perhaps the biggest proof of Modi government’s “tolerance policy”. On a hypothetical note, one can very well imagine the fate of any Pakistani leader who would have attempted to do a Salman Khurshid or Mani Shankar Aiyyar by verbally slandering Nawaz Sharif on an Indian soil”, concludes Sudha Bhardwaj.

It become complicated at times to understand politics in the literary sense especially when we hear politicians like Rahul Gandhi taking jibes about Modi running India through the PMO. All the more ludicrous when Congress heir apparent goes on to add that there is just one man who seems to be having solutions for everything and anything in the country. Now if one were to assess the remarks of the Congress vice president in toto, it is not difficult to straightaway point the contradiction in its very core as on the contrary, both UPA-1 and UPA 11 regime were often criticized by opposition to be remote controlled from 10 Janpath. Thus, if this is not a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, then one wonders what is. As regards, Rahul’s banter that Modi seems to be the man with all the solutions, the same would again boomerang back on the Congress party when one recalls the recent outcome of Mount Carmel school event in Bengaluru where students openly disagreed with chief guest Rahul Gandhi’s views that Modi’s pet projects were not working. The reason why our passionate PM deserves all around support from the citizens at this time all the more is because he has been steadfastly working towards transforming India into a fully developed nation which in due course of time would change the way our country is perceived by other nations of the world.”

The “OROP issue” ceases to get resolved even after having been amicably settled after an agonizingly long impasse by the present government. As an integral part and parcel of the democratic process, no one would wish to believe that an issue as critical such as the “OROP” too could get hijacked by certain political parties for the attainment of their self vested goals and objectives. Matters pertaining to the ‘Fauj and faujis’ should be kept miles away from politics, and it should be the sincere endeavour of every government to break any standoffs in matters related to the Indian services at the earliest. Ironically some political parties seem to be tirelessly working towards keeping the government on tenterhooks by engaging them in one controversy after the other. Though some political leaders cannily indulge in idealistic rhetoric, nation’s progress actually figures low in their scheme of priorities because if this was not the case, they would not have relentlessly hindered in the progress of the nation. While I have, and will always remain an Aamir fan, I would have really appreciated if he would have enlightened by sharing with us the name of the country or countries he considered were more tolerant compared to India.

It is a sign of healthy democracy when reel life stars play a proactive role in the national affairs of the country, and this advice goes especially for those that wish to see Anupam Kher being more apolitical. Wonder why the same counsel was never offered to the likes of Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Mahesh Bhatt, and Hansal Mehta’s of the Bollywood world?? Selective amnesia is what comes to mind when we talk about all this.

It is relevant to say that in the name of democratic rights and freedom, there are some who intentionally cross the “laxman rekha”, in complete anticipation that if action is initiated against them, they would just cry ‘foul’ and play the ‘victim card’ to the optimum by accusing the government of being utterly intolerant and prejudiced. Gratuitous issues are being raked to simply divert the focus from development to painting the government as a “terrible intolerant regime”, one that is hell bent upon muzzling the voices of its people. While the sinister ploy may succeed to an extent, the people of the country are smart enough to see through the real designs of those hell bent upon rattling the peace and harmony of our pluralistic nation.

Why do we need to be reminded that as the largest democracy in the world, some difference of views and ideologies are bound to exist? The clash of ideas can often lead to sparring and exchanging of barbs between those with divergent views, but then to paint all this as some sort of an “unprecedented intolerance” by spreading canards would not just be vilely unjust, but precarious as it could trigger turbulence.

The moral of the story being that one can only view and assess the situation on ground zero in the country today by removing the blinkers and shunning the preconceived notions and bias.

Moreover if there is any real ‘Intolerance’ to witness anywhere in the world presently, it is in a country called ‘North Korea’ where ‘existence’ means constantly living on a razor’s edge every moment under a ruthless dictator.

Democratic nations like India have just no place and scope for ‘Intolerance’. India has learnt well from the debacle of Emergency in 1975.

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