So, Before you jump to conclusions.. Oh, wait! Half of them already have read the title and not caring about what the content is. Anyway, since you have made it here, I would like to tell you about the background I am speaking from. I am hardly like most of the young audience reading this. I left India in the late 50s and the India I returned to in the early 90s.
The topic of whether India is tolerant or not was like, know, a no-brainer; because there’s that whole constancy of change thing going on. I have seen things changing around me, in fact, I have seen some whole wide range of changes, in different countries and cultures and even in India when we are adapting new things and changes for the betterment of our society.
The India I left was intolerant in a polite, snake-oil-salesman-sleazy sort of way; outfitted in the habiliments of medieval rituals and rites. Adorned with the repressions of religion and social standing, tolerance and its trickle down theories of dharma, ruled the roost. Tolerance was manifest in the duty of the deserving to be kind and generous to the lower orders, the, obviously, undeserving. I’d be able to tell which was who by noting which of the orders was allowed in through the front door, which through the back, and which had to stand outside the back door in the yard. The sort of work done was a defining marker, with not doing any work at all the peak of the pyramid. Kindness and caring were all well and good, but, touch might necessitate a purifying ritual. Intolerance was, in a bizzaro world kind of way, gentler, kinder; arrogance clad in Saville Row suits and well versed in the etiquettes of feudal control systems.
Which brings us to the India to which I returned:-
Intolerance, here and now, appears to have changed its outer wear. The principles remain unchanged but are now clothed in combat gear, saffron camos and trishuls, skull caps and scimitars; the mandates of religion now having to deal with the impatience of the lower orders at the slow pace of the dharmic flow. Education, access to information, and the concomitant awareness of alternatives to the stultifying processes of tradition seem to have retro-fitted the castles keep of the higher orders with some side doors. The chatelaines of those keeps seem to be reacting with baronial ire known nation-, world-, history wide for its bluster, bully, and belligerence. The constitutional good things seem to have morphed into an Animal Farm-ish some are more equal than others avatar. And as far as tolerance is concerned – hmmm, that seems to be defined as – you can do what you want as long as you do it My way.
What to do? Maybe This is the real India.