The simmering controversy over intolerance in India is not only affecting the nation’s image globally but has emerged as a “new Partition in progress”, which is splitting the country based on ideological differences, feels Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
The author and peace activist is concerned not because he is a descendant of the Mahatma, but as a citizen of a democracy which is sliding into a “mobocracy”.
He not only agrees with those who have likened the current situation to Emergency, Tushar says the hatred is being spread much more effectively.
“It (Emergency) was brutal, it was an evil but what is happening today is also an evil. The problem is the venom that is being spread is being spread much more effectively than by the dictatorship that was during Emergency,” asserted Tushar, who finds the Narendra Modi-led central government’s silence on recent events like the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri of Uttar Pradesh over beef, the murder of Kannada rationalist scholar M.M. Kalburgi, “unacceptable”.
“Even if they were incapable of actually solving the crime they could have made at least an appearance of being disturbed by it but their silence actually emboldened the radical elements.”
He is appalled at the growing divisiveness.
“Today you just make one statement and you are hit by an avalanche of hate. The way divisiveness is growing in our country, we are being split completely asunder and it not on cast lines or religious lines.
“We have experienced that on an ongoing basis, but this time the split is ideological and it’s being orchestrated and encouraged and its almost as if a new Partition is in progress in our democracy,” Gandhi told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.
Active on his Twitter handle, Tushar admits he has stopped retaliating to hate comments that his posts against intolerance attract.
“In a democracy there can’t be a predefined manner of protest… everyone has the right to protest in the manner they dim fit. As much as they have the right to protest, those who feel offended by it also are free to raise their voices but there should be decorum,” the columnist said.
The recent spate of “award wapasi”, which has created a storm across the country with a section from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party dubbing it as damaging for India’s image globally, is to Tushar a “dignified and polite” way to protest.
“Those who are criticising them are doing nothing except to demonise them and assassinate their character, question their motives. This in itself reflects the intolerant attitude that is being encouraged… that is becoming the norm of the society,” Tushar pointed out.
And even though they are being labelled as a “minority”, Tushar highlights that in a democracy even one voice of dissent counts.
“I believe in a democracy even one voice of dissent is important because it raises a concern which needs to be addressed and democracy is not about a brute majority or mobocracy… we are becoming a mobocrac… and all dissent is being smothered by numbers,” he lamented.
The RSS, Tushar avers, is an agent of division and “unfortunately they are succeeding much more today than in the past”.
Most importantly, scathing comments such as “anti-national” and “Pakistani agent” made by BJP and and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders on superstar Shah Rukh Khan tarnishes India’s image of a secular country globally, believed Tushar.
“…it not only affects India’s relationship with Pakistan… with Pakistan its an acknowledged fact that we are hostile… for all the pretensions that we make for being friendly and all that, the hostility between the two nations is very thinly disguised.
“But it affects our image internationally in this age of IT and the global village concept,” he added.