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8 Incidents That Show How ‘Intolerance’ Became The Word Of The Year In India In 2015

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By Sahil Sharma

One word that dominated the year 2015 was ‘intolerance’. It was part of national headlines in all newspapers and television channels. It was trending on social media and it was even a topic of debate in the Parliament.

This resilient and recurring word was used in abundance this past year. As 2015 comes to a close, we look back at 8 incidents, which made the people of this country use the word intolerance.

1. Holy cow! Ban on beef by several state governments

This is what probably started it all. Maharashtra, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir banned beef in their states. The government of India contemplated a move to bring an anti-cow slaughter law and the whole thing just snowballed from there.

Read what the president of the ‘Cow Protection Army’ has to say about cow slaughter in the country.

2. Death in Dadri: Man lynched to death on suspicion of eating beef

Image source: Blogspot
Image source: Blogspot

The beef ban gave the power to many radical groups, who took it upon themselves to implement it. A Muslim man was dragged out of his house, lynched and killed on the suspicion that he and his family in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh had stored beef in their refrigerator. The victim’s elder son works as an engineer with the Indian Air Force and was posted in Chennai when the incident happened. His response on the attack – “I can’t blame everyone…Most people are good…only a handful are bad. Saare Jahan se acha, Hindustan Hamara.”
Read the first-hand account of Dadri’s aftermath.

3. Shiv Sena and the anti-Pakistan protests

From smearing ink on writer and politician, Sudheendra Kulkarni to opposing the concert of Pakistani ghazal maestro, Ghulam Ali, the Shiv Sena opposed any activity that concerned our neighbors.

Keeping this in mind no matches of the Pakistan cricket team have been scheduled in Mumbai during next year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup, which is to be hosted by India.

maitri dore award return ink smearing
Illustration by Maitri Dore

4. Award wapsi. Writers, artists and scientists take a stand

Over 30 writers have returned their state awards citing the reason that they are ‘raising their voice against the changing secular fabric of the country’. They were joined by many other scientists and artists in this exercise. It’s important to keep in mind that this response is not born out of an anti-Modi or pro-minorities bias. It is the result of accumulation of growing dissent over a variety of repressive measures against individual freedoms.

5. Shahrukh Khan comments on intolerance…

In an interview, Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan said, “there is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance and there is growing intolerance.” What followed were a series of vicious attacks on the actor. Social media went into a meltdown with SRK fans locking horns with people who questioned the actor’s patriotism. Actor Anupam Kher was
also very vocal in criticising SRK for his remarks.

6. … and Aamir Khan also comments on intolerance

Image source: Twitter
Image source: Twitter

Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Journalism Awards, Aamir Khan made a confession that his wife did not feel safe for their child, given the situation in India and asked Aamir if they should move to another country. Anupam Kher was again the first to counter Aamir Khan’s remarks. Social media again went abuzz with trolls and memes. Both Aamir and Shahrukh Khan were asked by political leaders to leave the country and shift to Pakistan, only to prove their case on ‘intolerance’.

7. The Censor scissor is very sharp

sanskari james bondEven James Bond was no match for the cutting prowess of India’s censor board. 007’s long and passionate kissing scenes with Monica Bellucci were edited from the latest Bond flick ‘Spectre’, which led to the birth of ‘Sankskari James Bond‘ on social media.

Images of goddesses like Kali and Lakshmi were blurred in ‘Angry Indian Goddesses’ and words like “adivasi”, “sarkar” and “Indian figure” were beeped out.

Even though films are being granted an A certificate for their ‘adult’ content, the censor board is still intolerant and demands necessary cuts in the movie.

8. Mayhem in Cuttack

Even the Indian cricket team could not avoid the ‘intolerance’ fury of the Indian masses. During the first Twenty20 between India and South Africa in Barabati stadium in Cuttack, play was held up for more than 50 minutes. Why? Spectators, largely from one section of the stadium, began throwing plastic bottles onto the field.

They were showing their intolerance to the poor performance by the Indian team, which was bowled out for 92, their lowest T20 total.

These were just some of the major ‘headline-making’ incidents that fuelled the tolerance -– intolerance debate in the country this year.

That’s not all. The year also saw some people being intolerant to the word ‘intolerance’. The best example could be actor Anupam Kher, who took out an anti-intolerance protest march in Delhi.anti-intolerance protest march in Delhi.

What do you think? Has India become more intolerant? Share your views.

You must be to comment.
  1. Srinivas

    I ate some spicy Vada Paav last night. It's acting INTOLERANT in my stomach.

  2. Tolerance – The Gift We Need – BSc@GIPE

    […] is possible and sometimes instead of raising voices, arguments should be bettered. Remember the Dadri mob-lynching case or the censor-scissor of 2015. Were the underlying issues of these actually that important or […]

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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