Tolerance and Mutual Respect: An Answer to Our Problems

Posted on September 27, 2010 in Society

By Alex Mathew:

The college I study in is now in a state of chaos. We had the students’ affairs council elections just a few weeks ago. There were two parties contesting for the five seats. Before the elections, both parties were talking about working for the development of the institute and the welfare of its students. The announcement of the results however, resulted in the most bloody and violent turn of events my campus has seen in a very long time. You see, the ground reality is that being a member of the students’ affair council meant getting access to lakhs of fund money that can easily be siphoned out.

When the results were announced, one party won three seats out of five, while the other party won the other two. In the previous years, it was usually one party that won all the seats, and this always meant that the party that lost would become “nobodies”  and would be excluded from all opportunities that were there. This time however, neither party could do that to the other since the other also had power, and the frustration of not being able to play with funds and have complete dictatorship over the council (since members of the other party would blow the whistle) resulted in the some of the most bloody fights my college has ever seen. An “attempt to murder” case has now been filed and the victim of this turn of events had his room flooded with his own blood, and his laptop destroyed. It was truly horrifying, and unrest is only beginning? So where did all this start?

It started with seniors of one party, beating up juniors who campaigned for the other party. The eye for an eye mentality magnified and propagated the violence into what is now, a life threatening situation for several people who are now in hiding.

Looking at all this, I see the same patterns as violence in other parts of the country has.

  • It started because both parties had ulterior motives ( they campaigned saying that they were passionate about the welfare of this college, but the true motive was power and money),
  • and it grew because of intolerance and hatred for anybody that believed or represented something different.

Is this not usually the same thing that drives communal violence, and also the same thing that drives political violence? In fact, most forms of violence are usually for the sake of wealth or power of some sort, although it is usually cloaked in several layers of false nobility and virtue. This is their marketing strategy to gather numbers. Many of us buy into this kind of propaganda fairly easily and end up picking sides in a battle that is actually fought for nothing but the gain of the leaders. There is rarely ever a fight that is truly fought for a noble cause with complete transparency between its leaders and its pawns. We as citizens of India have been victim to this kind of rubbish for long enough and I think we all need to stop picking sides so quickly in any issue. Most of us usually end up picking whichever side has people from our state or people from our region, or generally whichever side gives us the most personal benefit.

The moment we develop a sense of a larger or greater good, and the moment we make the vision for India the vision for our lives, will be the moment this kind of meaningless, directionless violence stops. At that time we will be far more equipped to really become a developed country. Tolerance is something we really lack in India. Developing this quality does not lie expecting the politicians or the government to change, or make fairer policies. Developing tolerance and mutual respect for each other’s choices and space is a way of life, which begins at home, and at our workplace. We need to stop gossiping about our neighbors, and stop playing the blame game, for these are the small unseen building blocks that all violence and hatred is built upon. Towards a brighter tomorrow.