Intolerance has caused more damage to the world than even the world wars. It creates latent hatred and ill will among people which generates a sense of fear and loss of faith among the citizens which becomes a big hurdle in development of the society as attention of citizens is diverted to non-issues. The citizens cannot put their best efforts and devotion to their duties.
Experiences show that agent provocateurs run behind or surrender to police and the innocent people face violent action. Even people passing by are injured in such clashes. Lots of public properties are also damaged in violent demonstrations or clashes among the public based on intolerance. Studies show that most of the clashes due to intolerance are caused due to psychological disorder of leaders, long discontent due to inequity or exploitation, involvement of national or international organisations in such business due to financial greed or misconception of religious tenets or ethos.
The unfiltered information reaching through social media or the internet like Whatsapp, Facebook acts as fuel in the fire. If everyone’s idea is spread across, then there will be no need for any leader or literature or knowledge. Process of self-cleansing or consolidation of knowledge has considerably weakened as people do not want to give ear to sane advice. This entrenched intolerance is very dangerous as little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Dialogue and appreciation of others point of view are basic requirements for a free and democratic society. Political frustration and religious and sectarian extremism generate intolerance. Crisis of high expectations in life and non-fulfilment of promises by the politicians creates further unrest. This is more accentuated when people find that state machinery instead of being impartial and objective, indulges into discrimination, corruption, favoritism and nepotism and people take law in their hands indulging into vandalism like in Sri Lanka. The government should penalize masses which become very transparent due to the mobile revolution around the world. The government should also punish their officers and staff who are responsible to maintain law and order.
The solution lies in tolerance. It calls for a long-term solution. While tolerance means not to interfere with others ways of living or thinking it is to bend before others and allow others to bend before you. It suggests respect to the ‘otherness’ of the other. Tolerance and non-violence should be taught in schools and be made a part of our life. Similarly, governmental instrumentality should not only be honest, impartial and just, it should also be seen as honest and impartial by the general public.
It is surprising how and why people like to protect the Prophet who himself is all powerful and won so many wars under his leadership. He preached brotherhood. How can violence be done in his name?
There are four factors for religious upsurge i.e. the geopolitical and geo-strategic factors, the ideologization of the religion, search of identity by Muslims in non-Islamic countries and the oblivion of the basic factors in Islam. The Muslim community should take extremist acts more seriously because of the negative consequences of terrorism on the future of Islam. The thinking Muslims without fear from radicalism will have to go out of their comforts of homes and offices and work in seminaries, mosques and other places to acquaint common Muslims of the consequences of violent acts for the community especially in the present-day scenario in which the state is very powerful.
The Hindus, following the advice of late President of India Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan should abandon thinking that they are only repositories of light and others are groveling in darkness. The Dalai Lama says that in human societies, there will always be differences of views and interests. The only way out is the promotion of a culture of dialogue and non-violence for the future of mankind. The Indian culture promotes, ‘World is a Family’. If religion creates conflicts, people who are basically peace-loving, will abhor religion in line with Karl Marx that religion is opium for masses. According to Marx, religious fanaticism has caused more bloodshed than the blood revolutions.
According to Gandhiji, the indispensable condition of social freedom and social welfare is the tolerance of the diversities. Social welfare can only take off from the springboard of peace.
It is the ‘unity in diversity’ which the Hindu philosophy and Vivekananda calls ‘Advaita’ meaning the essential unity of man. In modern jargon, it may be called spiritual socialism. It implies a co-operative relationship with all life rather than competitiveness. Indian culture offers its real solution. Constitution of India under Article 51(e) and (f)asks every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities. This is the only panacea for development of individuals, community, the nation and the World.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dr.P.K. Agrawal is a writer of seventy books and a retired IAS officer. At present, Dr. Agrawal is the Managing Partner in a New Delhi based law firm.