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Are You Sure You Are ‘Liberal’?

Posted by Shanaya Iyer in Politics, Society
February 5, 2018

About a week ago, a couple of colleagues and I were deeply debating politics during lunch. The topic being discussed was how intolerant our country had become, especially in the wake of the “Padmaavat” incident. The debate covered all sorts of topics, ranging from the beef ban to the Dadri lynching.

A colleague of mine who we all know to be a BJP bhakt (devotee) suddenly piped in and gave his view on the topic. I immediately dismissed his argument and didn’t even bother to hear what he said. He was going on about abolishing the Haj subsidy offered to Muslims to travel to Mecca each year. Rubbishing his arguments as being RSS-sponsored, I quickly returned to my seemingly more intriguing sandwich.

That evening, when I got home and opened ScoopWhoop, I found a similar article about the Haj subsidy. I read it and the arguments actually made sense to me. Why should a secular government subsidise the pilgrimages of one community alone? As I thought about this, I remembered my lunch-time conversation. Wasn’t my colleague making the same argument? Wasn’t I the one who had branded him a bhakt and closed all doors to any of his views or opinions?

The more I thought about these things, the more I realised that in trying to be as open-minded and liberal as possible, I had effectively done exactly the opposite. I had completely ignored a person’s arguments simply because of my preconceived notions about him. And to add to the problems, when I read the same article on a news source which I personally liked, I suddenly found logic and reason in what I had earlier deemed to be a bhakt’s rant.

This article was not meant to talk about my political leanings. If supporters of any political party find this demeaning to them, please note that this was not the intention. However, for me, this small incident essentially opened up a larger problem in the way in which I, and a lot of others, think.

We, the millennials, as a generation, are more open-minded and liberal. But at times, we too get caught up in our own preconceived notions and bigotry. Whenever someone puts up an idea that may not align with our view or may actually offend us, we forget what liberalism means.

While we many not agree with what everyone has to say, we can at least lend them an ear and an open mind. We can think about what they have to say and analyse it rationally, rather than dismissing them due to preconceived notions.