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Insights into Editorial: The Age of Intolerance

Insights into Editorial: The Age of Intolerance

28 October 2015

Few recent incidents- murders of two prominent iconoclasts (a person who attacks or criticizes cherished beliefs or institutions.), ban on the sale of meat during the Jain Festival of Paryushan and lynching in Dadri- show that India’s image as a pluralist and secular democracy is under threat. These incidents also point out at the sharply divided polity in the country. Such incidents, if ignored, could spell danger, particularly in a multi-layered, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country like India.

All these incidents point out the danger posed by majoritarianism [It is a traditional political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a majority (sometimes categorized by religion, language, social class or some other identifying factor) of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the society – wikipedia.], at the expense of minorities of every hue. These incidents have also led to an impression that an atmosphere of intolerance overlaid with shades of authoritarianism pervades the country and question the inclusive character of India. It is therefore time for introspection.

How the government has reacted?

  • Reaction from the government has been weak and tardy. Condemnations of these incidents by the government authorities have been inadequate, considering the incendiary nature of some of them. There has also been the tendency in official circles to paint the events with a political brush. Such inactivity has further polarised the atmosphere.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee appealed to the nation “that the core values of India’s civilization that celebrate diversity, plurality and tolerance should not be allowed to wither away.” However, there does not appear to be any genuine desire for reconciliation.

Why it is a cause for concern?

In this age of connectivity, sharing of individual experiences among lakhs of people using the Internet could lead to a mighty ground-swell of protest that could deal a blow to the institutions of state — much like what happened following the gang rape of a young girl in Delhi in December 2012. If the different streams of dissent and discontent coalesce into a single stream, it could transform the protests into an uncontrolled crisis. Hence government should intervene and take measures to prevent such events before it is too late.


It is vital to preserve the pluralistic fabric of India. Hence, leaders across the political spectrum should work together to sustain the inherent quality of a nation that has welcomed people of all faiths and all denominations for centuries. Hence, it is the right time to take certain visionary steps rather than attempt to keep opponents off-balance.