Preaching tolerance and practising intolerance

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari gave a lecture to the officers of the Intelligence Bureau in Delhi on Monday. It was an ‘endowment’ lecture. Prominent among those who were not present at the meeting were the Union Home Secretary and the National Security Adviser. What Gadkari said at the meeting was unexceptionable as it reflects the spirit of the Constitution. He reminded his audience that tolerance is the biggest asset of the Indian system; that one who thinks he knows everything is mistaken; that this country does not belong to any party or individual but to 120 crore Indians; that it is good to win elections but if you cannot bring about changes in the lives of the people, then it makes no difference whether you come to power or go out of power. True indeed.
But people close to the Sangh Parivar do not seem to have any use for tolerance. They profess and practice intolerance. The day before Gadkari spoke, several church goers in Maharasthra’s Kolhapur attending a Christmas-eve Sunday mass were attacked by about a dozen and a half ‘miscreants’ who had their faces covered. They could secure entry into the church carrying sharp-edged weapons without any resistance and slashed and stabbed several of those attending the mass without any apparent provocation and without any reason. On Tuesday, the UP police issued a statement asking companies and offices in NOIDA to ensure that their employees offer Namaz only in the office premises and not outside. If the Muslim employees are found offering Namaz in public places, then the companies employing them will be ‘held responsible’ – a cryptic but ominous warning.
These are just two instances of intolerance to people professing different faiths other than that of the majority community. The Union Minister’s sage words had obviously had no effect on them and they certainly do not believe that this country belongs to 120 crore Indians. They also fail to understand that their intolerance is weakening the social fabric of the country and thereby weakening the country itself. The growing intolerance finds expression when self-appointed and self-proclaimed patriots damn anyone daring to differ from them as a ‘traitor’ and an ‘anti-national’. The targeting of Nasseruddin Shah has got wide publicity because he is a prominent person. But lesser mortals are being targeted, insulted, intimidated and physically attacked quite often but these incidents are never reported because the victims are ‘nobodies’. Gadkari and those of his party colleagues who think like him will now have to assert themselves and make themselves heard before divisive politics inflicts more wounds on the body politic.

Wednesday, 26 December, 2018