The mindless cacophony

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.


10 Responses to The mindless cacophony

  1. विश्‍वंभर says:

    राजनीति और वैचारिकता में यही फर्क है कि राजनीति विरोधी पक्ष पर हमले के किसी मौके को खाली नहीं जाने देना चाहती और वैचारिकता वस्‍तुस्थिति को स्‍पष्‍टता से देखने का आग्रह करती है। यह सही है कि देशभक्ति का तमगा अतीत से नहीं मिल सकता है। लेकिन शाहरूख के केस में सब भाजपाई और उसके पिछलग्‍गू पिल पडे हैं। मीनाक्षी लेखी ने अपने वक्‍तव्‍य में ईडी के नोटिस को जोड दिया, यह दिखाने के लिए कि यह सब उस नोटिस की वजह से हो रहा है। फिर भी मुझे लगता है कि भाजपाई नेता किसी सोची समझी रणनीति के तहत ये कार्यवाहियां कर रहे हैं या इन्‍हें चुप रहकर सह दे रहे हैं। शायद प्रयोगशाला में इस तरह के परीक्षण करके देख रहे हैं। उनकी कीमियागिरी में यही चल रहा है कि वोट की राजनीति में किन रसायनों के घोल से क्‍या असर पैदा होगा। लेकिन यह बिहार चुनाव के परिणामों के बाद ज्‍यादा स्‍पष्‍ट रूप से जाहिर होगा कि इन रसायनों से कैसी प्रतिक्रिया होती है।


  2. J. Saahir says:

    So, Mr. Dhankar,
    Are you justifying the ‘growing intolerance’ by way of comparison with China and Pakistan? This is really unwarranted, unfortunate, and shameful from an intellectual like you. Extreme or no extreme, intolerance is intolerance.
    If you want to make a comparison, why not compare India for tolerance with other countries?
    Thank you.


    • rdhankar says:

      Thanks to all who have commented and liked.

      I find Mr. Saahir’s reading ‘justification’ of my little note somewhat strange though. The last but one para very clearly states that we should be worried and then I go on to indicate that we have to fight it.

      But then, Mr. Sahir, you response is characteristic of the times we are in. You come to a conclusion that I am justifying intolerance through comparison, quite unwarranted, and then want to “shame” a person you do not know, simply because he has views different from yours.

      SRK is a respected public figure. His statements count. When someone is declaring There is “extreme intolerance” then he is not talking only about the people who are trying to create this atmosphere he is also passing a judgment on Indian society and the Indian nation. I happen to disagree that we are an “extremely intolerant society or nation. So I try to indicate that we should fight the ills in our society but with remaining close to reality and with a fair judgment. Because exaggeration will make the statements unreliable and so ineffective. Since that view happens to be different from yours you read justification in it and find it shameful. Would request you to think if it helps in fair assessment or dialogue.

      I would like to make India the most tolerant society sure, but in this piece i simply wanted to indicate what extreme intolerance looks like.

      Rohit Dhankar From mobile device



  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this piece of writing. I always found you very rationale and neutral. We look up to your writings in this time of insanity!


  4. Sumedha Seth says:

    I agree with you Mr. Dhankar upto a certain extent that yes being such a hot shot in the world with such a huge fan following, SRK should have a lil control and reflective value on what he is saying as it impacts a lot especially on the followers. Next, I totally agree with you that one’s past doesn’t and shouldn’t determine one’s present and if that should be the case then people like Mayawati, SRK himself, even the PM should resign as they belong to a poor background.
    But, whatever is happening on the country scenario should make one critically analyse as to the nature of these acts, whether the response to them is correct, like for instance film makers, artists etc returning national awards or rather their honours may be a form of resilience, but should also be seen that whether it is resistance against the government or public in general because a government doesn’t award someone. Coming on to the next issue, i feel that you have correctly identified the brutal examples of “extreme violence” worldwide but it shouldn’t be ignored that a spark is needed to light a fire. Thus, such “small” events (small not in terms of sentiments, but in terms of magnitude and occurrence) may turn into big pyre engulfing the civilisation if a reflective approach is not adopted.
    Thank you.


  5. J.Neha says:

    Okay, you want to say, to understand ‘extreme intolerance’ need to pay attention on past China, Pakistan of today, and to on Saudi Arabia. My questions to you
    1. Why he should pay attention on China, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia? Why not pay attention on India? Why not pay attention before one year, 5 years, 10 years or 50 years of past India and compare with today’s India. What is the issue?
    2. ‘Extreme intolerance’ will happen in India if 30+ Muslim women will abducted and they forcibly converted to Hindu but I see issue here also, suppose 30 or more women are converted, but at the same time in Pakistan 50 women converted to Hindu. What you will say, no no…. it is not extreme intolerance look to Pakistan, 50 were abducted and converted.
    3. Why should one pay attention on Saudi Arabia, living in world largest democratic country, have world largest constitution, where everybody is at least politically equal. Don’t have right to express because of Saudi Arabia.
    4. Of course, we should look to the record of ISIS but for what? To wait till we cross the record then will say its ‘extreme intolerance’ or to stop.
    5. And finally, Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi, Akhlaque, innocent dalits, hatred voices, where Govt. has no any control or even a word against it, I can’t hesitate to say support from govt. are not hindering you to think about intolerance it doesn’t matter extreme or not.
    Your 5th para reflects more exaggeration and hyperbole’ than ‘extreme’. Second last para looks nothing more than to say, thanks government officials for providing relief camp after helping in demolishing our beloved home.
    Sorry Mr. Dhankar I respect you but lost my tolerance after reading this and again my question to you is What is rationale behind giving such stupid justification to define extreme intolerance? Why Tibet, Gaza, Israel, Philistine are not? SRK statement is exaggerated because he is a public figure or because of he is a Muslim? Oh! SRK your ‘extreme’ is more exaggerating and hyperbole than Adityanath, Sadhwi….. and people will remind you who are you?


    • Dolashree Mysoor says:

      Dear Rohitji,

      Please correct me if I’m wrong on my response to Neha’s comments.

      Dear Neha,

      I received your comment and thought it best to respond directly before waiting for Rohitji’s response-
      1) extreme intolerance is not merely a game of numbers. It has very little to do with thirty or fifty or one hundred women/ men who are subjected to violence. This is not a simple equation, but reflective of the mindset of intolerance that exists in certain places. The question now is whether we would as a nation state be ok with such extreme cases of intolerance.
      2) do we have a case of extreme intolerance in India today? Maybe yes or maybe no. For me, the Bombay riot was a case of extreme intolerance. So using the comparison with China or Pakistan is not to say we are tolerant, but that we don’t want to get into a situation where intolerance that is institutionalised, the abduction of women in Pakistan is an illustration of this point. We are not in a situation in India where intolerance is institutionalised in such a form that lawlessness becomes law. When state and legal institutions and laws play to the tune of intolerance and one has no way out of it, or there is no avenue for justice, then the degree of intolerance is much higher than what we have in current day India. But the point about the blog post is to fight intolerance wherever you find it.
      3) again, just like I mentioned in point 1. This is not about geographic locations either. It’s not a comparative study of intolerance, but an expression and explanation of what would constitute ‘extreme’. Also, it may as well have been Anybother nation other than China or Pakistan that helps illustrate the point. ISIS is also an illustration in the same manner.
      4) I’m not sure what you are trying to capture in point 3. Is it that we still have free speech in India, or that we don’t have free speech in India and we are intolerant of it.
      5) the point about SRK and the responses to him are pretty well laid out and i don’t need to get into that here. I don’t think you are reading the article for what it is – he is saying that intolerance must be fought at all levels.
      6) about the murders, if they represent intolerance of certain views, or were carried out for this reason, then my guess is that Rohitji would say that such intolerance must be fought. Also, what is important to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter whether the government comes out with a statement on this or not. Are they just letting the murderers get away with it? They are investigating and looking into the matter. The government responding to something like may or may not change much here in my opinion- Rohitji may disagree with me on this point.


      • Deepika says:

        Killing and Lynching of people, burning them alive and not intolerance these are brutal crimes (very correctly said by Arundhati Roy) and the governments at state and centre only gave some statements in media but one is yet to see any consequences for those alleged of crime. If a statement by SRK called for such public scrutiny because he is a public figure and I think because he is a Muslim public figure then I think even all the other statements of sending all descending voices to Pakistan also need to be scrutinised with same rigour. Any why compare India with China or Pakistan or Afghanistan (Islamic state and I am sure if one should call China a Communist country) when the very ideology on which they are formed are different from that of India.


  6. Anonymous says:


    1. “Killing and Lynching of people, burning them alive and not intolerance these are brutal crimes (very correctly said by Arundhati Roy)”.

    Who told Arundhati Roy there is a contradiction in calling at act “intolerant” and “a brutal crime” simultaneously? What is new that she is saying? They are crimes; everyone knows and admits that from the first second, that is why the police is hunting for the perpetrators. And these brutal crimes are motivated by ‘intolerance’, not by desire of theft, personal animosity or something like that. So what is this jumlebaaji that fans are lapping up with such admiration? They actually should ask Ms. Roy to get her categories straight rather than admiring such inanities.

    2. “If a statement by SRK called for such public scrutiny because he is a public figure and I think because he is a Muslim public figure then I think even all the other statements of sending all descending voices to Pakistan also need to be scrutinised with same rigour.”

    Actually the stupid and mindless cacophony created by the people who want to send every dissenting voice to Pakistan is being scrutinised, opposed and condemned squarely. There are articles in the media, protest meetings, and reward returning, and so on. Every thinking person is criticising and opposing them. So what does it mean that ‘they should also be scrutinised’? SRK statement is being scrutinised because he is a Muslim!! Political correctness and identity politics are the biggest enemies of straight thinking.

    3. “Any why compare India with China or Pakistan or Afghanistan (Islamic state and I am sure if one should call China a Communist country) when the very ideology on which they are formed are different from that of India.”

    Yes, sure. And intolerance emerges from belief systems, ideologies. There is a difference between “comparison” and using as an ‘example’ to illustrate something. I am not comparing; I am trying to illustrate the meaning of “extreme intolerance” through these examples. So what is being said?

    4. Reading my next post will help understand why I take exception to the claim that ‘there is extreme intolerance’ in India. India is not a few bigots and noisy BJP supporters and goons. India is a society of 1.26+ billion and majority of them are not even intolerant, leave out ‘extremely intolerant’. In extremely intolerant countries people do not talk as openly as we are talking.

    I repeat: exaggeration does not help, solid opposition based on reasonable assessment does.


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