There have been a flurry of boycotts lately. A call to boycott Amir Khan for his visit to Mrs Erdogam to ‘unliking’ movies to boycotting works of movie actors. The latest in the list is Tanishq.
While I have not seen the advertisement, I would not like anything, that promotes pluralism be brought down as our nation is known for its inclusivity, pluralism and respect for all, irrespective of origin, faith and culture.
As such, Indian society has been largely tolerant. We have always been inclusive. Plurality has defined the Indian ethos since long. We have gone to an extent that not only have we tolerated everything, at many places, we have celebrated even our own oppression. While British committed many atrocities on us, we have some “liberated” authors who celebrated British rule.
But recent phenomenon needs thorough analysis rather than just brush it aside as right wing activism.
The supposed ‘liberals’ may want to blame it on the right-wing government and its policies. The right wing, as per them, has been a dividing force which has created a rift in the society. But is that true? Is it that the new India is more intolerant or is there an eruption of long suppressed 'expression'?
India is not new to boycotts. Fatwa is a well known means adopted by Deoband and other Islamic powerhouses to force people to behave. Salman Rushdie has been one of the celebrated victims of such fatwa. Government has not given due consideration to such acts and people reaction has ranged from indifference to denial to acceptance at large.
Movie industry has also been subject to boycott calls. Movies like Padmavati have been subjected by some fringe elements. Interestingly, some of these boycott calls have helped the movies by giving them undue publicity.
In India, the term “Freedom of Expression” has been subjective and have been defended vehemently by many. The right to differ has gone to an extent that the sloganeers who mouthed slogans against our country have been defended as vanguard of civil liberty and protector of free speech.
So, what has happened lately? Why an India, which has been so accepting anything and everything has all-of-a-sudden got voice?
India has been subjugated with the help of education policy which was meant only to create clerks. British implemented it and the next gen rulers adopted it. The thinking skull was legitimized and limited to a select few who defined policies and opinions. Unfortunately many such think tanks were not inert. The motivated opinions led to the belief that the only thing sacrosanct is secular while at the same time, creating ridge in name of religion and community by creating special privileges and vote banks.
A peculiar example is that while Hindus, being majority population is expected to follow the law of the land, Muslims have been granted their own personal law. Even education was divided on religious line. In the name of retaining religious or communal identity, privileges were given to some, including the second biggest religious community, incorrectly calling them minority.
At the same time, the Indian mind was divided on caste basis too. The same tool, which were initially invented to empower the downtrodden were used as a tool to divide the society. The major community and the ‘upper caste’ were expected to listen and not react. Any reaction from them was considered atrocity whereas if they are the subject to any action or abuse, it was idolized as ‘fight for social justice’.
Media too, played its role like partner in crime. Stories were written in the way to highlight the atrocities on minority and Dalits while being neutral when the tide turns.
When a Akhlaq was killed in UP, it became a matter of national shame and the headline, based on unverified facts, termed it as communal riots Awards were returned, though ludicrously, retaining the award money with the beneficiaries.
However, at the same time when Dr Narang is killed in Delhi, stories were either suppressed or twisted as if some ‘miscreants’ did it - you were not supposed to talk about religion of the perpetrators of the crime as it would have broken the fragile secular mask.
While talking about terrorism, media went overspeed to coin the phrase “Terrorism does not have religion” whereas term ‘saffron terror’ was publicized shamelessly.
Talking about love jihad was a taboo as it is against the secular thread of the country and in case a Hindu family decides against letting their daughter marry a Muslim, it was highlighted as Hindus being discriminatory against the Muslims.
Recently, the case of Rahul Rajput is a typical case of double standard of Indian media and intellectuals. When he was killed by the brother of his Muslim girlfriend, the media would not spell the M-word.
Indians are tolerant and inclusive in nature. However, the majority has started speaking its mind, which it had not, for long. The actions, many a times, are reactionary too. Many a times, the reaction has gone overboard and has been aptly denounced by many, including most of the Hindus too.
But do we really blame the community for speaking up? After years of suppression, overture of reactions happen. If steam is covered and pressed for long, it comes out with force and burns.
Should not the politicians and media be equally blamed for creating narrative, which has resulted in such a situation?
If being politically correct is needed, it should not be one sided.
Tanishq should be appreciated for the 'inclusive' ad but will it have the guts to show similar ad other way round too? Such questions will either be dismissed as provocative, right-wing or would be met with utter silence.
But the question still remains "Who let the plurality down?"