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Rohit Dhankar

We are passing (hopefully!) through the period characterized by mindless cacophony. That might be a reflection of who is considered worth listening to by our worthy media.

Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) proclaimed that “There is intolerance, there is extreme intolerance… there is I think… there is growing intolerance”. Now he is a celebrity; therefore, what he says has to be paid attention to. I will come back at the end regarding veracity of his proclamation. But he is as good a citizen of India as Mohan Bhagwat of any Parvar worthy. And he has as much right to state his opinion openly and fearlessly as, again, Mohan Bhagwat or any parivar big wig.

But a general secretary of BJP is quick to attack: “Shah Rukh Khan lives in India, but his soul is in Pakistan. His films make crores here but he thinks India to be intolerant”. It is hard to imagine something more stupid and poisonous than this; unless the likes of Vijayvergiya help us by creating even more obnoxious examples. It is stupid because Vijayvargiya actually is providing easy and immediate proof of intolerance, proving SRK immediately right, at the least partially.

Next comes someone from the Grand-old Feudal Fiefdom of India: “he [SRK] comes from a family of freedom fighters. How can he become a ‘Pakistani’ when his family fought for the freedom of this country? On the other hand, none of your family members have fought for the freedom of this country and you call yourself patriot?” What a beautifully stupid argument. If your ancestors were patriots you are a patriot; if your ancestors were unknown small people you can never be a patriot; if your ancestors were against the country’s good (as seen at that time) you are treacherous. He does not thinks that this will lead to in investigation of record of his own party’s leaders and their ancestors; just for example: Sindhias and Nehrus is 1957.

Now, SRK thinks that India is extremely intolerant. Of course he has the right to hold and express his views. But his understand of what is called ‘extreme intolerance’ seem to be seriously limited; may be because he lives in India. He should pay attention to China on Falun Gong movement in the past. He should pay attention to Pakistan of today (not because there is any reason to believe that he has any sympathy with that country, for he does not; but simply to understand the meaning of ‘extreme intolerance’); where about 30 Hindu women are abducted, forcibly converted and married off to Muslims. The law of that lawless-land is totally in favour of the abductors! He should pay attention to Saudi Arabia where you cannot practice your religion publicly, if it happens to be other than Islam. He should look at the record of ISIS (that will be useful for Professor Habib as well). That Mr. Khan, will help you understand the definition of extreme intolerance better.

Does that criticism of SRK mean that we should be happy or should not be worried about the level of intolerance in our country today; by no means. That simply means that we need to be careful and closer to the reality in our proclamations. We cannot fight intolerance by exaggeration and hyperbole.

And we, the masses of India, have to develop the capability to be critical about this cacophony and sift the grain from the chaff.