In light of recent events, there’s a lot of discussion going on about the rise of intolerance in the country. Reports of communal violence have increased (only reports, mind you), celebrities are being ostracised for their statements, students are being branded as anti-nationals just for their opinions. But all have a common denominator, one that people fail to focus on.
Thing is, that even after the new NDA-led Government has come to power, there hasn’t been much of a change in the social dynamics of the country as we think it to be. Crime rates, government policies, they’re still basically the same. It’s only that news reports have also increased. Just take a look at how many news channels have come up in the past few years. India has more than 70,000 newspapers and over 690 satellite channels (more than 80 are news channels) and is the biggest newspaper market in the world – over 100 million copies sold each day. And in such a tough fight for the maximum number of viewership, news channels these days turn out to be more like reality shows. And bad press is the key to that. But this is nothing new. What really has changed is the reaction of the people.
Nowadays the general public simply assails anything that does not conform to the core beliefs of the current society. The normal reaction these days would be to ban anything that doesn’t match with the general principles of this social-curry that we mistakenly call ‘culture’. It is simply absurd to be completely opposed to any sort of change without much foresight. Take the case of Raja Rammohun Roy and his fight against Sati and for women quality. Both were vehemently opposed by the prevailing populace at the time and now it is hard for us to imagine that people even thought like that in the first place.
The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind if only happy when it is thinking.
Censorship is the ‘new normal’
Voicing her opinions in a short video clip, recorded by The Guardian, feminist author, Julie Bindel has spoken out after more than half a million people signed a petition last month to ban US presidential hopeful Donald Trump from entering the UK.
This really puts us in a very dangerous place. Silencing voices and opinions do not kill the idea itself. If people think that women’s dressing is responsible for rapes, they will continue to think so even if they are kept quiet by the social media outrages we are so used to seeing these days. Rather, we should hear others’ points of view and rationally counter them as best we can. To quote Yevtushenko,
When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.