What: Camellia Group presents Calcutta Club The Telegraph National Debate 2016 Where: Calcutta Club lawns Motion: In the opinion of the house tolerance is the new intolerance Verdict: Dead heat or tie, after show of hands
According to me the well charged debate was well coordinated by Mr.Mukul Keshavan.Suhel Seth gave a nice introductory speech, though against team had stronger opinion the debate was still drawn. Anupam Kher was more interested on saving his and BJPs face rather than to debate on the topic while Mr.Surjewala was inclined to blame BJP holding a list of atrocity.Kajol's speech was plain and simple, while Justice Ashok Ganguly spoke about Supreme court order and challenged the supreme court. Atlast Barkha Dutt's speech concluded with some strong points supporting Kanhaiya Kumar. In mine opinion the against team was better.I have provided the synopsis of the speeches to let you decide yourself.
What we should really be intolerant about is intolerance itself. What we should be intolerant about is poverty, the subjugation of rights and opportunities. Why am I being part of an intolerance discourse when actually I am not intolerant? Why are we dividing India on lines of caste and creed and religion and exposing every little nuanced statement put out by stupid people as the final yardstick of this particular government… and I don’t mean this particular government… I mean that particular government. I am not for once supporting the fact that the Prime Minister doesn’t speak up when he should. I think he should… but that’s for the Prime Minister to decide.
We don’t need a media circus playing on our television channels every evening, almost suggesting that our idea of India has either failed or is about to diminish. Because the idea of India is stronger than stupid utterances that will be made in a democracy as vibrant as ours. What’s happened today is that we are living in media circus times… so if an idiot says something stupid, and there are many across political parties, those become the national discourse.
We are still a tolerant country. Don’t get taken in by this whole mantra of intolerance. There are stupid things happening in this country, but people will understand that basic commodities and basic rights of humanity are more important than beef bans. People will realise that you can’t alter the discourse of this country on the basis of one ideology, one principle or one faith.
We need to be more tolerant about the word ‘intolerance’. We believe in a holistic and composite India.
I’ll leave the politics and speak about intolerance elsewhere… meaning myself!
I have always been an intolerant girl. Twenty years ago, I was pictured as a demure and docile Indian girl being brought up in London by a caring and strict father who allowed me to go on my first Europe trip with friends. And there I met this boy who — quite famously — held my outstretched hand and pulled me into a train’s compartment. But once on the train, he and I were so totally on the wrong track. After all, how could any good Bharatiya nari ever tolerate someone as frisky and flirtatious as this boy called Raj, with overgrown hair and undergrown manners. The boy I was seriously intolerant of back in 1995, was Shah Rukh Khan. It was only later that I as Simran managed to not just tolerate him but also fall madly in love with because, after all, the Dilwale had to take the Dulhania away!
In 1998, I was flying from Paris to India... on the flight I met Shekhar, who managed to irritate me in so many ways. I was severely intolerant of him until I realised he had a heart of gold.... After all, Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha. A year later, reel turned to real and I was married to this man you all know as Ajay Devgn.
Those who know me and my family have often said that this intolerance runs in our blood.... There always has been intolerance in India. There is intolerance because the society is not perfect. There are fault lines. We all need to work together to make a stronger and a richer India. An India where there is much less poverty and inequality. Only then will intolerance cease to exist.
Had any of you heard of the word ‘intolerance’ till seven or eight months ago? You hadn’t, because this is a term that’s been marketed. It’s a result of the drubbing that the Opposition got at the hands of the ruling party. The Prime Minister hasn’t taken a single day of leave in the last two years… let him work for five years and then decide... I am not advocating him, I am just speaking as a citizen of this country.
Many people say I speak for the BJP because of my wife. I have been married to Kirron for the last 30 years… I don’t have to prove my loyalty to her by speaking on behalf of the BJP. You can’t tolerate the fact that our Prime Minister goes on foreign tours and speaks about the idea of India… for 10 years, you have tolerated a Prime Minister who didn’t say a word.
There has been no talk of corruption over the last two years, but for 10 years before that, there was only talk about corruption... 2G, 3G, e ji, o ji…. People in India, in general, are tolerant. The only ones who talk about intolerance are the intellectuals… the rich and famous who travel with 20 bodyguards, sip on champagne and talk about intolerance. The man on the street doesn’t even know the word ‘intolerance’. The American Presidential candidate (Donald Trump) says that Muslims should be thrown out of the country… that’s intolerance.
The most tolerant people in the country are the Congress. They are tolerating a person who they want to project as a Prime Minister of this country and they can’t even say to each other, ‘We are wrong!’ If you can tolerate that person, then you can tolerate anything in the world.
Retired judge of Supreme Court
In a school in Kerala the national anthem was sung and three schoolchildren respectfully stood up for the anthem but they did not sing. Initially the school authorities overlooked it, till it caught the notice of a patriotic gentleman who happened to be a member of the Assembly. He raised it and ultimately the students were expelled. They challenged it before the courts and the Supreme Court... in upholding the rights of the children made a very prophetic statement in its concluding part of the judgment. The Supreme Court said: “Our tradition teaches tolerance, our philosophy preaches tolerance, our Constitution practises tolerance. Let us not dilute it”. In the wake of aggressive nationalism of the present scenario this may sound a little strange to many ears but this is the crux of tolerance in our Constitution.
In the Preamble the greatest emphasis has been given on individual dignity and individual dignity has been equated with the unity and integrity of the nation. You cannot allow the citizens to maintain their dignity if you rob them of their basic freedom. If today I become answerable for eating a particular food, or if my house is raided for storing beef... where is my dignity, where is my moral autonomy, where is my freedom? This is what is happening today and we condemn this as acts of intolerance.
I condemn intolerance in any form and I think without tolerance you cannot have cultural pluralism nor can we have multi-cultural existence in India. India is not meant for these intolerant people.
Shall we forget compassion because another one is cruel? Shall we give up love and affection because another one spurns us? Shall we forget humility because another one is arrogant? Shall we give up tolerance because another one is intolerant? The answer is plain and simple. No.
And while I say this, I know that in today’s times if you are inclusive, if you are tolerant, if you are passionate you will be hounded, you will be persecuted and you’ll be trolled, by those who stridently oppose compassion and tolerance. But does it mean that the fringe has become the mainstream? Does it mean that if you disagree with the ruling establishment, then I am the enemy? Does it mean dissent is anti-national? Does it mean I need to carry a certificate of patriotism everywhere I go? The answer is again plain and simple. No.
While I say this I am painfully aware that the fault lines of identity, of religion, of caste, of region have become very, very sharp. The last 22 months of this government... it often appears that this is the mainstream discourse. But is it? Because its intensity and its noise is so strong and so loud that all sanity appears to have been lost in the din, so naturally it looks as if intolerance is the new tolerance….
India’s DNA is about compassion, it is about cohabitation and it is about coexistence. We are a nation that enabled the birth of different religions and adopted many religions and still thrived. I am confident that no government or organisation can take away our DNA of compassion, coexistence and cohabitation.
I am going to ask all of you to step back from the politics, the theatrics, the histrionics and... let’s talk instead of the environment that we operate in today, and who has created that environment. Is it politicians, or is it all of us? Have we as Indians forgotten the art of conversation?
As a television host... I worry most of all for the intolerance of my own fraternity, the media. I worry at how we somehow have converted news into theatre and our narratives have become reductionist and I am afraid in this city, which prides itself on its intelligence, I know that all of you will agree with me that certain narratives are dumbing us down. We are more intelligent than this nationalism versus anti-nationalism narrative. We are proud Indians and we do not need anybody to certify that for us.
The young man I met last night…. I asked him, ‘There’s a word these days that has become very controversial, that word is called ‘azadi’. I said ‘can you define azadi in one sentence?’ And he said: ‘Azadi for me is the freedom to implement the Indian Constitution’. Who said this? A boy charged with sedition called Kanhaiya Kumar. This was his definition of azadi. Not azadi from India but azadi in India.
We the people who are tolerant, who want to live and let live, who want to let people wear what they want and yes, eat beef if they want.... Secularism was dear to me, my politicians took it away from me, so today I say pluralism. Nationalism was dear to me... but today they have taken away that word from me and I have to look for another word.
If I was arguing this for the proposition I would argue that in the last few months within the political context of India, a bunch of isolated and abhorrent incidents have been stitched into a sinister pattern and this, in a sense, is used to exclude legitimate political voices that arguably won the last general election.
If I was arguing this against the proposition, I would argue that the call for intolerance is never merely rhetorical. Reason why so many people have made a case against the present political climate is because they believe an attempt is being made to rig the political discourse of the republic in a majoritarian way… that there is, in a sense, a state that acts as a patron for civil society movements to try and shut down what the nation has always been known for, which is almost a form of anarchic pluralism