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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 51 New Delhi December 12, 2015

Why So Tolerant?

Sunday 13 December 2015

by Ayaz Ahmad

The heated debate on so-called intolerance and Award Wapsi keeps throwing up an obvious question, why now? What has happened after the ascent of the BJP/RSS to power at the Centre and in some States since 2014 to cause such widespread alarm in the citizenry? One explanation is that those protesting against the growing atmosphere of intolerance in the country are inherently opposed to the idea of the BJP/RSS and Modi in power. But for once, an explanation can be suggested by shifting the focal point of debate from intolerance to tolerance!

If writers/scientists/artists/film-makers/actors/historians/intellectuals/free thinkers/social workers, who are protesting or returning their awards now, are inherently opposed to the idea of the BJP/RSS and Modi in power, then why were they so tolerant during and after 2002 Gujarat riots when the same BJP/RSS and Modi were in power both in the State of Gujarat and at the Centre? Why no one thought of returning awards during and after such humongous tragedy right under the nose of the same BJP/RSS and Modi? Does this mean that these intellectuals were agents of tolerance for the BJP/RSS at that time? Deep anguish and concern were raised from all corners of the country but nobody thought of returning awards because the country was assured by the then Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee’s follow your ‘Raj Dharma’ statement. Just that and it was enough to assuage the sentiments of wounded India! Unfortunately, this time the country has no such reassurance.

True, some incidents of violence generated by intolerance took place in the non-RSS/BJP States. But even there, those involved in actual atrocities invariably belong to the RSS/BJP or their affiliates. And if the blame of intolerance-generated violence must rest with the State Chief Ministers alone because law and order is a State subject, then who should take the blame for the 2002 Gujarat riots? Moreover, involvement of the RSS/BJP in violent activities, directly or indirectly, in the past also does not give any assurance to the large sections of society. Contemptuous statements by the members of the RSS/BJP from time to time keep adding fuel to the fire.

Coming from the RSS/BJP, it is hardly surprising but what is different this time is that they are continuing with their venom-spewing mode despite being the ‘Ruling Party’ of India. Further, the nature of attack on democratic values today is completely different from the past incidents like 1984, 1992, 2002 or a host of other incidents of communal or sectarian violence. Earlier such violence was limited either by region, community, time-span or the form of attack. But what we see this time from east to west and north to south, from the real world to the virtual world, from Dalits to Muslims, from writers to rationalists, from film-makers to historians, from artists to scientists, from the FTII to IITs, from beef to buffoons and from killing to ink-spilling, is simply unprecedented!

Never before (except during the Emergency) in the history of our country, members of the ‘Ruling Party’ were involved in fascist activities at such a large scale. Killers of rationalists, writers, lynchers of innocent on stupid suspicion, rioters, hate-mongers, prophets of violence all belong to the ‘One Ruling Party’. This creates apprehension of fascism taking over our motherland in an organised manner, because last time when such anti-social, anti-rational and anti-national elements belonged to the ‘One Ruling Party’ happened in the

initial days

of Nazi Germany and Talibani Afghanistan/Pakistan. No Indian nationalist would like India to either become Nazi Germany or Talibani Afghanistan/Pakistan. Wherever and whenever such tendencies could not be tamed at the

initial stage,

the horror that followed is well documented in the history books.

At times like this, it is the utmost duty of every Indian to raise the alarm-bells as loud as possible and save India from the horrors of fascism. As I said, these are

initial days

and eventually it may all turn out to be gross exaggeration but in the fight against fascism, it is always better to err on the side of caution than to see your country being ravaged by fascist violence.

In the history of India, the call for award wapsi was first given by Gandhiji against the mindless violence of the imperialist British. Tagore also returned his award in protest against the colonising violence of the British which proves that award wapsi is a legitimate and non-violent method of protest available to patriotic Indians. Thus the conscience-keepers of India protesting against growing intolerance through non-violent Satyagraha, far from defaming the country, are performing a seminal national duty to save India from the ultimate disgrace of fascism. Hence, every patriotic Indian should support the protesting writers/scientists/businessmen/artists/film-makers/actors/historians/RBI Governor/ President of India and all those who are fighting to prevent the fascist forces from destroying our beloved country.

Ayaz Ahmad is an Assistant Professor, Glocal Law School (GLS), Glocal University, Saharanpur (UP). A former Member of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) Court, he was the President of the Post-Graduate Law Students Union, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. He can be contacted at e-mail:

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