BENGALURU: Intolerance should not be allowed to take the shape of violence, said entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw at the second and concluding day of the Bangalore Literature Festival on Sunday.
She was speaking at the last panel discussion ‘Are we heading towards an intolerant India today?’ Dissent has to be accepted and debated, she said, which would transform us into a tolerant society.
The opinions presented by other panelists differed on whether intolerance was a reality in the country or ‘manufactured with sinister intent’. The panel included writers Aakar Patel, Madhu Kishwar, Saba Naqvi, Padma Rao Sunderji, historian Vikram Sampath, Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra and entrepreneur Mohandas Pai.
Naqvi said that there was a limit to which intolerance can be taken in the country, as Indians do not tolerate it in the long run. She quoted the elections held in Bihar as an example.
Patra opined a hoopla has been created about intolerance in India and was “absolutely unrequired”. Gundu Rao said the ideological construct behind statements by right-wing leaders was a concern.
Pai said the claim that India is intolerant was demeaning, he said. The issue is an ideological debate between the right and the left, he added.
Conflict of ideas
Exiled Bangladeshi author, Taslima Nasreena described the situation in India as conflict between two sets of ideas. In a video message aired at BLF, she said that there was a conflict in India between two ideas, secularism and fundamentalism, rationalism and superstition and between humans and barbarians. “I believe that no country becomes civilised without criticising the dogmatic beliefs of religion,” she said. India is basically not an intolerant country. “But it is true that some people in all religions are intolerant,” she added.