Irony of tolerance; forbearance being questioned by intolerant writers


By- Surbhi Moudgil

Tolerance is a propaganda with no distinction of device; a role-play of democracy which often gets contradicted by its own preachers.

The ironic enactment of the tolerant world is getting broader on its awareness spectrum, yet it is shrinking in its dissent. The preachers on tolerance in India, award (Sahitya Akademi) winning writers, of late have questioned the legitimacy of their writings being snubbed by a particular section of the society.

Several contradictions arise when demands on tolerance are probed.  An arch pluralist, Isaiah Berlin’s statement, “Let us have the courage of our admitted ignorance, of our doubts and uncertainties. At least we can try to discover what others require, by making it possible for ourselves to know men as they truly are, by listening to them carefully and sympathetically, and understanding them and their lives and their needs…”, accelerates the argument of tolerance being questioned.

Can an agitation contrary to another agitation represent tolerance?

Novelist Vikram Seth criticized the current atmosphere in the country, saying some people “under the banner of Hindutva, intimidation and bigotry, seek to silence writers and scholars.” Levitating on the question, ain’t they going on a rally to express their disagreement, intimidation and been taken as bigots, the same kind of an expression.

The question is: are the writers being tolerant of others’ expression on religious beliefs, angst, and agitations? Clearly not, as they are getting furious and giving up their Sahitya Akademi awards.

The writers, as well as the passive self-righteous social groups, claiming for tolerance and yet not being tolerant to each other, need to find a collective path of pluralism. We should tread the path of this pluralism where one is not just liberal or just conservative but trails the intermediate track of moderation.

The liability of tolerance is larger than the gamut of acceptance and both need to be differentiated by either of the partisans, the writers as well as the supposed intolerant society.

The writers should be able to tolerate the agitation expressed by particular pockets of the society, and vice-versa.

Tolerance is a one-way road, where there is either moderation from all side or total chaos of demanding the others to tolerant. Thus, the writers, as well as the society, need to modify their perspectives before hovering the pragmatic blame game of tolerance.