Tolerance and Intolerance in India

I often get confused answering the question on whether India is a tolerant nation or not? It is indeed a difficult question to answer. Whether it’s for good or bad, I think India has a good blend of both. I have listed the things that we are tolerant about and the ones which we aren’t. It’s a neck to neck tie! The irony is that we are tolerating the issues which we should not be tolerating at any cost and not tolerating the ones which we can and should be tolerating. Confused, so am I.

Why is this issue making so much of news in recent times? What is the origin of this issue? Beef eating probably… I’m still not able to understand why Beef eating has become such a big deal. Isn’t eating supposed to a personal choice? How come one can enforce their thoughts on others?

Let me tell you that I come from a traditional South Indian Hindu family practicing Hinduism. As part of my religion I have always followed vegetarianism. As per my principle I also have always stayed away from drinking (alcohol) and smoking. That is my personal choice and I don’t talk to anyone about it or would not enforce my views on anyone. I’m extremely proud that I’m able to adhere to my principles in whatever situation it may be. Said so, I have always respected other religions and sentiments of fellow human beings. Treating everyone with love, affection and caring are the supreme guiding principles in our house as taught by my father. Growing up in a community of people from different background and ethnicity indeed played a big role in shaping my personality. In fact it is a great platform for social behavior learning and being tolerant.

Back to the topic of Beef eating, why are we against it? In a society do you expect everyone to have similar eating habits? Is killing the cow an issue because it is worshiped by Hindus? Mouse considered to be lord Ganesha’s vehicle is commonly seen in temples; they are killed as it is a menace. Same with Snakes, monkeys and elephants and no one seems to have problems with it! So, is the issue to do with killing or eating? Something to think about…

If it is killing people have the problem with, then I should say that I have personally witnessed section of society which is opposing the cow killings sending them to slaughter houses as they get old! Why? Because the poor farmers won’t have enough money to take care of those aged cows. So when the question of money comes, religion or sentiments takes a back seat.

If the issue is to do with eating beef, then I would ask – Isn’t eating a personal choice. One cannot dictate to others on what they should eat. What one eats is customary to their family practice and has got nothing to do with religion. I think mixing this up with religion is not a fair thing to do.

I worship Cow everywhere regardless of place (India or outside). I have special sentiments for it and is very personal. Period. Someone eating beef in India or abroad should not cause issues to me. If you can tolerate someone eating beef outside India then you should tolerate within India too. Because your sentiments or respect to cow won’t change if you are in India or abroad. Make sense?

My eating habits is personal to me. My sentiments should not be an enforcement to others to change their eating/drinking habits. If the eating habits is driven by others choice I wonder how you accommodate it. Where would you draw the line for it? The world will be a messy place. Should that be the case then being a vegetarian, I should be asking people to stop eating any kind of meat or for that matter drinking alcohol or smoking cigarette as I don’t do any of it. Not fair, Right? Unfortunately religion is used as a level to push ones agenda. Anyone can interpret religion in their own way to substantiate their points. The wrong interpretations of the religion is the biggest issue we are facing now. I’m sure every religion would preach that god won’t be happy with you if you don’t treat fellow human beings with dignity and respect. We are so caught up in peripheral issues that we are not able to see the core of the matter.

If we Hindus ask for ban on beef eating during our festival season then think what if Muslims ask everyone to eat meat during their festival! Doesn’t make any sense, Right? I would even say why not banning Tobacco products and alcohol drinks as it is known to cause health issues or for the fact that I don’t do either ! No one want to do it as it is against freedom of choice. How is beef eating different? My point is that if you can tolerate someone eating any forms of meat then Beef shouldn’t be an issue for you. For me it’s meat or no meat. Nothing intermediate. Being intolerant towards one type of meat over other doesn’t make much sense to me. In so called cultured society hard to believe that people are intolerant about others eating habits!

Being a hardcore vegetarian, of course I’m not advocating for beef eating here but want seem to be a trivial issues has been blown out of proportion. A non-issue has become prevalent now in India leading to perception of growing intolerance in the nation. There are much bigger issues to be concerned of at this juncture of nation building. Unfortunately we are tolerating some issues which shouldn’t be tolerated at any cost.

India Tolerates below Issues… But DON’T. Be Intolerant

Intolerance on any kind of crime on women and children– India is ranked on the bottom when it comes to women’s safety. Unfortunately this issue is growing exponentially. As a nation India should have absolutely zero tolerance towards any crime on women and children. Be it calls for making whatever changes to the constitutional laws. There are evidences of protests made aftermath to some incidents which made national headlines but failed to bring enough changes in the laws. We should be intolerant to any sorts of crime on women and children. We should be intolerant until stricter laws are enforced to take necessary action against the culprits.

Intolerance on female infanticide –Infanticide is a criminal offence in India but it is an under-reported crime. It is beyond my imagination on how someone can go for this barbaric act!! Girl child are the special gift to parents from god. They fill our lives with love, happiness and joy. Studies indicated that extreme poverty with an inability to afford raising a child is one of the reasons given for female infanticide. The dowry system is also another reason that is given for female infanticide. When do we stand up against this heinous crime? Shouldn’t we be intolerant against this inhuman act?

Intolerance on the unfair obsession to fair skin- Unfortunately, in India, People think looking better means you have to look fairer.” Not sure where and how we got it but there is a severe obsession for lighter skin. In 2014, India’s whitening-cream market was worth $625M, according to a report by market researchers AC Nielsen, and was growing at 18% per year. Last year, Indians reportedly consumed 437 tonnes of skin-whitening products, spending more money on them than on Coca-Cola. Studies has revealed that the obsession to lighter skin has created physiological problems in the children and teenager girls. What is so frustrating is the insensitivity people have without even realizing the negative impact it may cause. Unfortunately the children are also not spared from this evil. It is very common in India to make a comment about the color of the skin. There has been many instances reported on the dark-skinned people been humiliated and thus them resorting to extreme steps. It is unfortunate that we are not able to kill this evil yet. Another instance of us tolerating a practice which we absolutely shouldn’t have. Is color of the skin more precious than the happiness or life of our children? We as a nation should be intolerant against any obsessions towards fair skin. We should be intolerant towards any act of humiliation on the darker skins.

Intolerance on child labor – India is sadly the home to the largest number of child laborers in the world. This needs to be abolished once for all. We need to be intolerant towards any act of child labor. This need lot of will power; not just in the laws but by the law-abiding citizens

Intolerance on any type of Corruption/ Bribery – There is a fundamental issue with the way things move in India. Knowingly or unknowingly every citizen becomes part of the corruption in the system. We need to be intolerant till stronger measures taken to curb corruption in India. There has to be an awareness on the negative impact corruption causing to our economy. Laws need to tighten to punish the culprits – Bribe takers…and bribe givers too. This is the biggest issue impacting our economy negatively.

Intolerance on the lack of Public health– Some 130M households lack toilets. One-half of India’s population, at least 620 million people, defecates outside… Source- Population Reference Bureau, Public Health should be the first priority of the government. We should be intolerant against any inaction or delays on public health.

Intolerance on the lack of Infrastructure – People live in crumbling infrastructures thus affecting their day-to-day lives. We need to be intolerant till necessary infrastructure is available for the tax payers. Be intolerant till tax payers money is properly used for developmental projects. Law makers has to be held accountable for this.

Intolerance on the Road safety violations – Less said the better. The Global status report on road safety 2013 estimates that over 1.4 million people dying every year due to accidents.  A lot to be done in this space. Fixing bad road designs, lack of maintenance of roads and emphasis on the need for citizens to be more responsible on roads. We need to be intolerant against any casualties happening due to road accidents. We need to be intolerant with anyone being non-compliant with the traffic rules. The “Chalta hai” attitude should be totally curbed.

Intolerance on the practice of SuperstitionsSuperstition makes their homes in the weak minds. These are deep-rooted and irrational beliefs which needs no reasoning caused by ignorance and fear. Someone who strongly believes in god and their own ability, I guess won’t surrender to superstitions. Superstitions lead to closed minds. As Pascal said “Superstitions is founded on fear and ignorance and leads men to form false ideas of duty, to dread chimeras and to lean on a broken reed.”

When do we stand up and fight against superstitions? When do we stop thinking that these are bad signs – A cat crossing one’s path or a sneeze (or when someone calls or interrupts) while going out are considered bad signs.

Laws are not enough. We need to spread awareness among the masses and make them understand that superstitions are nothing but unscientific ideas. They are unadulterated believes that grow with and practice during one’s life time. Show your intolerance towards any kind of superstitions practice.

Intolerance on the Littering – This is a plague bothering the nation. This spoils the environment, People’s health. No one would like to keep their house dirty but we still litter. Having waste and garbage scattered around everywhere does not bother us. We are content within ourselves as long as our house is polished clean up to the front doorstep. When it comes to surroundings, that’s where our responsibilities seem to end. The “Chalta hai” attitude should not be tolerated. We need a zero tolerance on littering and urinating in public.

Intolerance on the gender discrimination- Another big issue India is facing. This problem has certainly subsided over years but still long way to go. For the progress and prosperity of India this discrimination need to extinguish so that India can take off its flight to the world of progress. We are highly vulnerable and tolerant when it comes to gender discrimination. We got to stand up and show intolerance towards any act of gender discrimination.

Intolerance on the system of caste based reservations – When a 22-year old leads an agitation for reservations for his community, there is some serious introspection needed in the country on the direction we are going? India has been shaken, and its thriving state of Gujarat paralyzed, by a massive agitation by its influential Patel community. This is a very controversial topic in India and hardly any politicians want to go the core of this issue to resolve as that may cost their political career. A true leader is the one who gets to the core issues and address them and not a band-aid solution to the every lasting injury. I see a merit in the argument that reservations to no longer be caste-based but tied only to economic criteria, with the poorest of all castes benefiting from them and not the better-off of some castes. We should indeed support fellow citizens who are economically poor by providing any necessary financial aid for education and other facilities. There should be no reservations in education or job. Everyone has to go through the same selection criteria’s and process for getting admission into educational institutions and jobs. The concerning part is that the caste consciousness is not withering away but is growing in young minds. This is harmful to country’s progress. We need to be intolerant against any caste based reservations in education or jobs.

Intolerance on the Minority appeasement – unnecessary. Why the appeasement? The law has to be the same for all the people living in the country. A country moves towards a growth path only when we believe that country comes above religion. Political parties work round the clock for minority community appeasement. There shouldn’t be any special laws for the minority communities. Be Intolerant if government fails to implement Uniform civil code in India (It is the proposal to replace the personal laws based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in the country with a common set governing every citizen).

Intolerance on threat to national security – As a nation India should have zero tolerance towards any threat to national security. India has been repeatedly attacked by some bad elements but still nothing has been done to cut it down to zero. India has mostly been reactive than being proactive in addressing these challenges. We should not tolerate any threat to national security. It should be strongly responded diplomatically and through other means as proper.

Intolerance to media’s TRP driven agenda – Media is totally glamorized. News anchors have become more important than news. In the mad race for TRPs, Media has resorted to sensationalism and twisted, manufactured news. Be intolerant towards any media whose goal is to sensationalize the news and increase viewership. People believe what they see and hear rather than trying to gather facts and be well-informed on the issues. Reject those channels who are not ethical and publish fabricated information.

India is intolerant on below Issues… But be tolerant

Be tolerant towards children – As a nation, we are generally intolerant when it comes to dealing with kids. Grownup’s at most times respond harshly to kids when they ask for any information. We need to get the sophistication and civilization western countries practice with treating the younger ones. Even the toddlers are given respect and dealt politely when asked for any help. We should be more tolerant towards children. Even in schools, the rudeness of the teachers baffles me. Teachers has a duty to impart strong morals to their students. By showing them respect we we’ll end up imparting crucial lessons in kindness, consideration, honesty, open-mindedness, and gratitude as well.

Be tolerant to physically challenged persons – I can talk about the issues physically challenged people are facing today from my personal experience. The physically challenged persons are one of the excluded sections of the society and also they face number of problems in their daily life. We are generally intolerant towards them. Be it in the bus/train occupying their reserved seats or not giving any preference to them in parking or knocking them off in public places unintentional of course as we are super busy etc… We got to learn to be more tolerant towards this people who need our kindness and consideration.

Be tolerant towards others eating habits – Think that not everyone in the country can have similar eating habits. Eating is a personal choice. Rather than making big fuss about others eating habits let us move on and focus on bigger issues which matters the most to the people. Let us be little more tolerant towards our fellow citizens.

There are bigger issues we need to be concerned about at this critical juncture. Let us rise above from the petty issues. Let us not get sidetracked by unnecessarily wasting time on insignificant issues. It is easy to get derailed from the big picture. Let us always try to think big. We need to work towards the social changes which defines us as a nation. Let us make this place a better place to live for our children. Let us fight for those issues which would make them proud of us. When we do so we shall be imparting values of tolerance, compassion, respect and kindness to our children.


ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih ||

From ignorance, lead me to truth;

From darkness, lead me to light;

From death, lead me to immortality

Om peace, peace, peace


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