Culture of competitive intolerance increasing: Tharoor
Minister of State for Human Resources Development Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said there seemed to be an increasing culture of “competitive intolerance”, referring to the recent troubles of sociologist Ashis Nandy and Kamal Hassan’s film, Vishwaroopam.
He said that the country had not yet reached the position where freedom of speech could include right to offend, but asserted that it was the challenge for society to find the right balance.
“It should in my view include the right to say things that might offend some and therefore invite a counter-argument and discussion and debate, but not to the point where a government or a judge determine that it poses a danger to public order,” he said in a television interview.
“The challenge for us as a society is to find the right balance that leans more towards freedom and not towards repression.”
Referring to the recent furore over Nandy’s alleged anti-Dalit remarks, he said that while there could be ground for disagreement with the statement, calling for the prominent sociologist’s arrest was “unnecessary”.
He, however, felt Nandy could have phrased his remarks in a better way to avoid offending anyone. Tharoor opined that a ban on Kamal’s movie Vishwaroopam was not required, especially since it had been approved by the Censor Board.
“...once the film has been certified by the Censor Board it ought to be screened and if you don’t know what the film says, then engage with the filmmakers, argue if necessary, protest if you must but do not prevent screening...,” he said.
Taking all the above incidents, along with the ban on writer Salman Rushdie from visiting Kolkata, he said: “We seem to be increasingly becoming a culture of competitive intolerance.”