India Intolerent!

In the run-up to the General Elections of 2004, the ruling BJP and their allies in the NDA, coined a slogan ‘India Shining’. That ‘India Shining’ campaign was basically a massive cover up for a whole range of misdeeds which included growing intolerance and attacks on the minorities culminating in the Gujarat Carnage of 2002; a slogan which proved to be its nemesis at the hustings!

Ten years later, in 2014 the BJP-led NDA were given the reins of power once again. About 31% of those who voted felt that they needed a Government with ‘a difference’ and they hoped that the “achche din” promised during the election campaign would soon become a reality for India’s teeming millions. Sadly but not unexpectedly, the dreams of a better tomorrow have vanished into thin air. As the country continues to be plagued with a whole range of problems, what one experiences with a sickening regularity is the growing intolerance from certain sections of society. India has always had its moment of intolerance. In the past however, they seemed to be contained – with the ruling powers demonstrating some political will to address them. Not so today. There seems to be a tacit approval from the government, a legitimisation, of the terrible intolerance.

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Let’s then look at some of the many acts of intolerance right from mid-2014: Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation overnight becomes a hero and a patriot; Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS Chief calls for the establishment of a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (nation); a Union Minister, Niranjan Jyoti turns abusive saying that in India, one is either ‘ramzadon’ (those born of Ram) or ‘haramzadon’ (illegitimately born); the HRD Minister through a circular states that Christmas Day (December 25th) should be a working day for schools (and then denies it); the Government however continues to insist that it is not a holiday for Government employees.

On September 14, 2014, a BJP Parliamentarian Sakshi Maharaj made a strong allegation that, “the Madrasas of the Muslims were teaching terror”. On January 5, 2015, addressing a gathering in Meerut, he boldly proclaimed, “the concept of four wives and 40 children will not work in India and the time has come when a Hindu woman must produce at least four children in order to protect Hindu religion.” The same news report goes on to add, ‘Sakshi Maharaj went further to add that those involved in conversion must be punished with death though ‘ghar wapsi’ (reconversion) is not equivalent to conversion. “Wait for some time,” he thundered, “a law will be passed in Parliament in which anyone indulging in cow slaughter and conversion will be punished with the death sentence”.

So the Dadri lynching of 28th September 2015 – when Mohammad Akhlaq was killed because of a rumour that ‘he ate beef’ – should not be seen as a spontaneous act of violence by a mob but a well thought of barbaric act by people who know that they can do things with impunity, because they are vested with immunity.

The Shiv Sena (a key ally of the BJP) in Mumbai takes law and order in their own hands! They prevent Ghulam Ali, the Pakistani musician from performing there; storm the Board of Control for Cricket in India office protesting plans for a bi-lateral series with Pakistan and they attack and ink the face of Sudheendra Kulkarni (a protégé of L. K Advani) for organising the book launch of former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri. The list is indeed endless!

As a formality, the President of the BJP Amit Shah summons besides Sakshi Maharaj, the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, the UP State Legislator Sangeet Som and the Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan and gently informs them that they should not make inflammatory remarks. Besides, the BJP will not ditch its Hindutva ally the Shiv Sena. A time-tested strategy is ‘to run with the hare and hunt with the hound’. So while the Shiv Sena in its extremism will reap the ‘moolah’ from the hardliners, the BJP with its cosmetic posturing will seem like a ‘liberal face’ and continue to woo the average citizen who is not interested in understanding the depth of dirt from which these groups operationalise.

Everyone is aware that practically nothing will happen to the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. The Gujarat Carnage of 2002 provided the criminals with an official approval from the Government of the day. This model of intolerance is now being mainstreamed all over the country. Of course, some from the ruling dispensation are concerned when some of the topmost intellectuals of the country have the courage to return the prestigious national awards which they have received in the past. This is something which was not expected. On the one hand, they request the intellectuals “not to spoil the name of India” and at the same time some of them will also denigrate these intellectuals by casting aspersions on their credibility by calling them “pseudo-intellectuals” and “traitors”.

Those who rule us must ask themselves one question: who are the ones responsible for spoiling the name of the country; for trying to destroy the precious heritage of multi-culturalism, pluralism and diversity of our land? On October 19th, President Pranab Mukherjee while expressing his concerns over the recent happenings pointedly said that “Indian civilisation has survived for 5000 years because of its tolerance; humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance”.

‘Panchjanya’ the mouth-piece of the RSS in a recent issue has an article stating that “the Vedas order the killing of ‘sinners’ who slaughter cows.” And no case is made out on this article of hate. Few however have the courage to listen to one of the greatest historian on ancient and medieval India Dr. D.N. Jha who in his celebrated work ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow’ concludes that “the cow was neither unslayable nor sacred in the Vedic period”.

Thanks to those who rule us today, India has perhaps deservedly earned itself a new sobriquet, “India Intolerant”. It’s not too late however for civil society to come together and to tell those who are bent on destroying what we treasure the most that they will never succeed in their campaign of intolerance. We need to learn from history and not allow the pain, the sufferings and the violence to go full cycle before we say “enough is enough”! We need to pray with Rabindranath Tagore “into that heaven of freedom my Father, let my country awake”. Above all, the time to act is now!

(Fr Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


  1. There he goes again!!! smiles…

    Presenting one-sided facts, blaming only one side, exaggerating events depending on if it fits the narrative or not, engaging in systematic political and religious propaganda to defame politicians, selective outrage – these are all too familiar signs of crony-secular groups.

    Here is a simple litmus test for honesty:

    – Whenever someone brings up ‘ink’ attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni, I would like to know if they expressed any outrage when similar attacks were carried out on Baba Ramdev and Prmod Muthalik. For the record, I have opposed all ‘ink’ attacks irrespective of the individuals involved.

    – Whenever someone brings up intolerance of hindu groups, I would like to know if they had the same outrage when some groups opposed and banned any publication of cartoons? For the record, I fully support ALL religious satire.

  2. If you feel India to be turning Intolerant due to the current central govt, then let me please clarify – its because of pseudo seculars like yourself ( Author). The communal elements that you have mentioned in the article existed all through India’s independence. No media glorified them or gave any colour to their slogans. Its now that media has declared a war against the Modi’s govt and wants to paint a different picture about India internationally.
    Adding fuel to the fire are reporters and “authors” like respected yourself who make a hill out of mole and call a stray statement or an incident as an attack on some religion or caste or creed and try to illusion the readers.
    Also to clarify – your 31% vote point is simply baseless. If you analyse India electorate results, It has been hovering around this rate and its not anything NEW. This 31% vote has also in the past brought so called PRO minority govt to power.
    So my humble request to authors like you is to drop hate and concentrate on the progressive policies and good work done by this NDA Govt. See how the central administration is now responding to a common mans honest requests, be it ministry of External affairs or any other portfolio. Atleast propagate how the govt machinery has become efficient in this regime and how international agencies are endorsing brand India’s new face now ! Jai Hind!

    • Adding fuel to the fire are reporters and “authors” like respected yourself who make a hill out of mole – Sachin (Bondulkar)?

      Hello respected Sacchu….

      Erroneous through EVERY pore though you are, did you mean to say – “Mountain out of a molehill”?

    • …a stray statement or an incident as an attack on some religion or caste or creed and try to illusion the readers. …See how the central administration is now responding to a common mans honest requests,- Sacchu

      Lynching a chap is an ‘incident”? STRAY statement?

      Some “illusion”, eh? cripes!

      Where did you spring bail from, Sacchu? Tihar Jail on Arthur Rd? Guantanamo? Crawled right out outta the rotting RSS woodwork and STRAYED out here? Vanakkam though!

      Oh, so the CA is NOW responding to a common man’s HONEST requests, eh? Where did you read that? Well, hang on and read a bit:

      The prime minister’s website ( has details of all 19 foreign trips undertaken by Atal Behari Vajpayee from 1999-2004. Details pertaining to 68 out of Manmohan Singh’s 73 visits from 2004-2014 are also available on it. But under Narendra Modi, except for the Rs 2.45 crore spent on his first visit to Bhutan in June 2014, no information on the costs incurred on his subsequent 28 trips has been uploaded on the tech-savvy website (as mandated by law), although phrases like ‘quest for transparency’, ‘right to information’ etc fairly drip off it.
      Well, well well…..stay tuned Sacchu da Bacchu….. Next time, wear some gloves – even Latex ones will do for now…at LEAST a cap to protect your delicate nut.. pads..a ‘Centre’ Guard….arm pad.. thigh pad….. use some deo….. read the pitch(es), get a dip on the weather.. know what I mean?

      Man o Man……. our Joker Rampu has competition! 🙂

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