These days many people speak about growing intolerance in India as if one bad day India suddenly became intolerant. They hold the Modi government responsible. Some have returned their awards. BJP members have spoken against such people. They say it is a conspiracy and manufactured rebellion.
India had always been intolerant. In 185 BC Pushyamithra Shunga murdered Brihadratha and became ruler of Magadha. He persecuted Buddhists and forced them to become Hindus. Mihirakula (Ruler 515-530) and Shashanka (Ruler 590-625) persecuted Buddhists and forced them to become Hindus.
Many Jains are intolerant. They don’t want others to eat meat, fish, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger, honey etc. They want ban on sale and eating of meat during Paryushan.
When khap panchayats murdered young couples no one returned awards. Such murders continue. Congress MP Naveen Jindal justified khap panchayats saying they went back to the time of Ashoka. Riots take place. No one returns awards. Most of the riots took place when Congress was in power. Rajiv Gandhi justified Sikh massacre by saying when a big tree falls the earth shakes. Manmohan Singh’s apology many years later has no meaning.
Dalit women have been stripped naked and paraded in villages. Some of them have been sarpanchs. No one returned awards.
Those who returned awards include authors, historians, film persons and scientists. Film persons returned their awards after FTII students strike flopped after 140 days. The strike was against appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of FTII because he was BJP person. Some said he did not have the stature to become FTTI chairman. There were no protests when U. R. Anantamurthy who was hostile to Narendra Modi was made FTTI chairman or Leela Samson was made CBFC chairperson.
Shyam Benegal, Madhur Bhandarkar, Raveena Tandon, Anil Kapoor and some others have said awards should not be returned as they are given by the country. Anupam Kher has spoken against people who returned awards and has organised a march opposed to Congress march.
Karan Thapar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Nidhi Razdan and some other journalists have been against Modi. Law and order is a state subject. Yet such journalists blame Modi for everything; want Modi to speak of everything. BJP spokespersons like Shaina NC do a bad job in defending Modi. Law and order in Delhi is a union subject and central government is responsible. When rapes take place in Delhi these journalists do not question central government.
Nayantara Sahgal who returned Sahitya Akademi Award did not speak against mass murder of Sikhs in 1984 and accepted the award in 1986 when Rajiv Gandhi was PM.
President Pranab Mukherjee spoke thrice in recent days about tolerance and pluralism. During his public life he had many occasions to speak about tolerance and pluralism. He did not speak.
No one returned awards in 2008 when Kandhamal riots took place and churches were damaged in Mangalore. There was no outrage when in Kerala a professor’s hand was cut off.
No one returned awards when Taslima Nasreen was physically attacked or a serial based on her book was prevented from telecast.
There is discrimination against Dalits. No one returns awards.
Congress governments passed laws banning cow slaughter. Congress governments passed anti-Christian laws in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. Congress governments have banned books and films. Congress-NCP government banned dance bars in Bombay and many dancers became unemployed. No one returned awards. I am not in favour of drinking of alcoholic beverages but since bars were permitted dancers should not have been deprived of employment.
Shah Rukh Khan talked of intolerance and BJP leaders attacked him. They said he should go to Pakistan. Shiv Sena, which some years back was against Shah Rukh Khan for his statement in favour of Pakistani players in IPL, came to Shah Rukh Khan’s defence more out of spite for BJP than love for Shah Rukh Khan. Even Anupam Kher who is generally against people who talk of intolerance took Shah Rukh Khan’s side.
Manmohan Singh spoke against intolerance and murder of thinkers. Narendra Dabholkar’s murder took place when he was PM and Prithviraj Chavan was CM.
BJP has said many who talk of intolerance are Congress or Left supporters and their outrage is selective and hypocritical.
Modi government has countered people who have talked of intolerance but it has a problem facing it. Ex-servicemen are angry that One Rank One Pension is not notified and have planned to return medals to collectors on a single day in all districts of India. Ex-servicemen outside India will return medals to diplomatic missions. If that happens Modi government will lose many votes in future.