An interesting phenomenon is unravelling in India these days. It is called “protesting against intolerance”. Think more on it and this resembles the anti corruption movement we saw couple of years back. Of course, there is one key difference between the 2 movements – the anti corruption movement fizzled out and key people associated with it made political careers. The current “intolerance” movement will also fizzle out but the key people associated with it are resurrecting political careers of others. Sadly, neither of these movements are able to provide any real solutions to the problem we face in our society today – deep corruption and lawlessness.
Mr Shashi Tharoor’s take on India’s alleged intolerance
It is very confusing to me what exactly are the “intellectuals” protesting in their “intolerance” movement. And then I came across this beautifully worded article from Congress MP Shashi Tharoor (Illogical article on cow slaughter in Project-Syndicate forum). I request you to read this article once (it opens in a new browser window) and then come back. And just to be clear, I’m a big fan of Mr Tharoor, when he writes/speaks like a normal person.
Mr Tharoor wears an opposition Member of Parliament hat while expressing his views. Problem with Indian politicians is in their
unidirectional view on current events. They just present one side of the story – either supporting the government of the day or against it. I must admit (personal view, of course) the part he gets right in that article is with economy.
PM Modi’s biggest failure so far
PM Narendra Modi has wasted his mandate in past 18 months. He got unprecedented support from Indian public in 2014 Elections. Only Indira Gandhi fared better than him, way back in 1980. Rajiv Gandhi did have similar success in 1984 but that was mainly due to the sympathy wave created by his mother’s assassination.
If not for the low global oil prices, things would have been lot difficult for Indians by now. Hollow programs like Swachh Bharat, Make In India, Smart Cities and Bullet Train are leading us nowhere. We now hear that FDI norms are relaxed in some 15 other sectors and Government is claiming that to be a game changer. But fruits of such long term measures will take years to reach the common man. Remember, PV Narasimha Rao launched the biggest economic reforms in post independence era of our great nation. But when he went for polls in 1996, Congress party could get only 140 of 542 (25%) Lok Sabha seats. Economic reforms take time and are no measure for political success. I stress on political success sine Mr Modi needs a second term to really make a long last impact on the quality of our lives. And a second term is possible only if he does the right things in this current term.
Where Mr.Tharoor gets his assessment wrong
But then, Mr Tharoor takes a predictable route in his article. He starts blaming anything and everything on the government at the Center by conveniently ignoring India’s federal structure of governance. Law and order are state subjects. The points he raised in that article are a general representation of what all the “intolerance” protestors are talking about. Let me try address some of them since it completely baffles me why these people are stating something like 5+5=20.
- 1.2 billion people, 18 months of BJP rule and 2 persons are murdered in what is definitely a hate crime. Now, how can you generalize the entire governance model by citing 2 incidents. That way, USA must be one of the most unsafe countries for children since 32 students were killed due to gun violence inside their schools/colleges in past 18 months. Refer to Wikipedia for shooting stats
- Delhi police did not call up a BJP leader before “raiding” Kerala House. They made a mistake by entering the premises on such flimsy grounds. Delhi Police Commissioner must be asked to file a detailed report on what happened and steps to be taken to avoid such unnecessary Police interventions in future. That, Mr. Tharoor, will fix the problem.
- Shiv Sena is responsible for the reprehensible ink attacks. But they are also the same folks who are against the so called beef ban. So, are they the good guys because they protested beef ban or are they bad guys because they have these ink attacks on people?
- I do not have any personal take on cow slaughter or beef eaters. But consider this – excluding Northeast States, only West Bengal and Kerala are the states where cow slaughter is allowed. All other states do not allow cow slaughter. States have already decided what their population should eat. It is not a new thing and we should stop converting the issue of lawlessness into an intolerance one. Wiki link to cattle slaughter ban in Indian states
Target the real problem
Hence I feel the recent incidents of violence are due to deteriorating law and order situations in various states. And this has been
happening for decades. Governments and Police departments of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and J&K should be made accountable. Why is that rioters and other hooligans are let off so easily and/or their court cases drag on for decades? Punishment is the best form of deterrence, but when there is no punishment, crimes will only increase.
Modi is an easy target (just like Dr Manmohan Singh was, just like Atal Bihari Vajpayee was and just like any other Prime Minister before was). But people like Mr Tharoor, for whom we have so much respect, are hurting our own country by going after the wrong target. People like him have the voice, reach and influence to make a difference. Make Law & Order the key issue you would be discussing in Parliament. Force the Central and State Governments to get their act together. Hooliganism is not Intolerance. Lets not convert an easy to solve problem into a tough one.