Are we increasingly becoming an intolerant society

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Dr Kouser Fathima

Growing up in a multicultural society, festivals were a delight. Everyvbody waited for each other’s festivals with equal enthusiasm, be it Diwali, Eid or Christmas. Neighbours and friends anxiously waited for biryani and sevaiyyan during Eid. Likewise, we waited for delicious homemade sweets during Diwali from our next door aunty. Festivals were a time to share food and happiness.

People would voluntarily reduce the volume of Television at the time of Adhan or iftari time in Ramzan as a mark of respect to Muslim neighbours. Muslims would wait for hours to watch the Karaga procession, ladies would offer water and food to the volunteers. Ladies, while making Sevaiyyan for vegetarian friends would take extra care to use separate clean utensils, not used otherwise for non-veg cooking.

During Christmas, when as kids we would go to collect charity, people would happily give without bothering much about the institution to which it is given. A neighbour was more of a friend and the person mattered most not his/her religion. Those were the simple days of Doordarshan and Akashwani. Simple people with simple thoughts.

Many years later, our modern and sophisticated nation continue to remain a multicultural society. Everything looks normal except that this is just cosmetic.

Scratch the surface, and you will see that the way multiculturism is handled has changed. Now festivals are more like our’s and their’s. People do enjoy each other’s festivals but the tolerance level has diminished considerably. Now the new educated and modern generation is often not keen to to make concessions for “others” and the phenomenan is prevalent in almost all communities.

Now five minutes of Adhan on loudspeakers has become a ‘nuisance,’ Diwali crackers are seen as annoyance and pollution and Christmas has become conspiracy to collect money in the name of donation. People, who complain of noise and air pollution don’t realise the daily amount of pollutants in the air that they themselves have contributed to.

We don’t complain when while waiting in the traffic jams and inhaling polluted air but yes one day of bursting crackers or five minutes of call for prayer do cause a lot of disturbance to us .

What we otherwise did voluntarily as a mark of respect to our friends and neighbours is now done with a lot of cribbing and whinning, sometimes the disconnect is demonstrated in a very condemnable way.

The ban on meat sale during the period of Jain fasting, has been there for many years but all of a sudden it is in focus for all the wrong reasons. Many protested the ban as they didn’t want the state to dictate their eating habits but few went overboard.

A political outfit in Mumbai staged their protest by displaying a meat toran outside a Jain temple and a overzealous person in Kashmir tried to butcher a cow as a mark of protest. Both the acts are highly condemnable.

The country may be moving towards becoming a truly developed nation, but some people are becoming increasingly narrow minded. The social media, a powerful tool is misused to spread hatred and incite people, even more shocking is how easily people get to believe the words of these hate mongers and get fooled. Photoshop has become a boon to such rumour mongers. It now just takes a message or a photoshopped image to incite people into hating each other.

Many instances of false messages spread against each other can be seen. By the time the truth is revealed and lies exposed, the damage is done. A fake picture of a slaughtered pig outside a mosque or a false news of midday meal disruption in schools during Ramzan in some states are enough to fuel the hatred and instill a false sense of prosecution is seen among all communities .

With passage of time, these rumours may turn out to be very dangerous. It’s time we stopped blindly trusting these false stories. Remember, for some in the media, the TRPs matter the most. The media will endlessly cover Indrani Mukherjea case for days without bothering about the floods in other parts of country. One life of Sheena Bora was more important to them than 38 lives lost in a train accident. And if we blindly believed what these channels told us without cross checking or introspecting, we will have no one to blame other than ourselves. A multicultural society needs to respect each other’s belief in a way that we grew up doing as children.

NOTE: Views expressed are the author’s own. Janta Ka Reporter does not endorse any of the views, facts, incidents mentioned in this piece.

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