ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Beyond the Politics of Platitudes

On the Intolerance Debate

Hegemonic ideologies not only provide a desired frame of action, but also a desired frame of dissent. The environment of hate against the minorities and a section of dissenters and their response--invoking the "Idea of India" as tolerant, diverse and inclusive--caters perfectly to the needs of Hindutva as a hegemonic ideology. This article attempts a diagnosis of this stalemate.

Protests by academicians, artists, film-makers, scientists, etc, grew after a Muslim man named Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched on rumours of having beef in his house in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. Similar protests had occurred when religious mobs had silenced Perumal Murugan or when Wendy Doniger’s book Hindus: An Alternative History was pulped by her publisher. These protests have broadly taken the form of returning state- conferred awards. The statements issued by these dissenters have, perhaps with the exception of Arundhati Roy, invoked the “Idea of India” as a tolerant, inclusive, diverse nation against Hindu nationalists trying to mould India into an intolerant, exclusive and uniform nation.

There are many who are questioning the supposed hypocrisy and biases of these dissenters, which has broadly taken three forms: (i) terming the Dadri lynching and murders of rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi as being “stray incidents,” (ii) questioning the timing of the protests and saying that such incidents happened as frequently during previous governments, and (iii) pandering to the minorities by remaining silent when Muslim extremists committed similar acts of violence or intolerance.

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