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Rising Intolerance: Asking the right questions

Posted by Ahmed Pathan
August 1, 2017

There is a visible rise of intolerance in India for the past three years. From incidents of killing of progressive journalists to the lynching of a person on mere suspicion of possession of beef. Instances of labeling individuals with contradictory views to that of the majority as anti-nationals also point towards intolerance. At this juncture, it is important to right questions. Firstly, what is the root cause of this rising intolerance? Why are the voices of intolerance gaining so much support? One of the reason might be due to the crowdsourcing of news on social media networks. Most of this news that is crowd-sourced on social media does not abide by the principles of journalism. Opinions of an individual are often construed as facts which become the basis of the opinions that are formed by the society. These opinions are accepted as facts because it does not compel one to think, to question, to reason and more importantly it’s convenient. And this crowd-sourced news is often picked up by the mainstream media which gives validation to it. As Denzel Washington once said, “If you don’t follow news, you are uninformed but if you follow news you are misinformed.” This holds true for news on social media networks. The second reason might be rising insecurity about the identity of the individuals and influence they have on public affairs particularly amongst the majority section of the community. This leads to paranoia, leading to the notion of survival of the fittest by any means necessary.

The second question that needs to be answered is, how does intolerance affect society as a whole? It is a matter of concern if intolerance is flourished in the society as it often leads to violence. Intolerance is a collective version of hate, it is human instinct to hate someone who has caused harm to him. But on a collective level, it is very much possible to hate someone without even knowing him.  As an individual you may hurt the man back, however, at a collective level, you may even kill someone who has done no harm to you. The number of incidence of violence due to intolerance can be backed to argue the adverse effect of intolerance in the society.

The third question that needs to be asked is, how does intolerance affect India as a nation? Is the very essence that India was built upon is at stake? The notion of guarantying equal rights to individuals irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. Freedom to express without being in a kind of fear. While designing the Constitution, it’s architects made sure that it safeguards every individual’s rights and not get swayed by the collective conscience of the society. India is a nation of nations, with multiple cultures, languages, religions. The one thing that unites everyone is the Constitution, more importantly faith in the Constitution. And this unity in diversity has led India as a whole in doing wonders. The Constitution promotes tolerance, and if intolerance continues to flourish in the society it may not only hinder social and economic growth but may also be a reason for an unstable nation. A comparative study can be done keeping in mind the social and economic indicators with Pakistan. Both the nations attained independence on the same day but one nation went on to become the fastest growing economy and the other still struggling, socially and economically.