Respect each other, accept the difference
Discussion on situation arising out of incidents of intolerance in the country
Dr. Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram): Respected sir, I know the time is short, therefore I will not repeat what has been said, so many facts and so many example have been placed in this House, which I also want to place before you. Instead of this I want to respect the request of the Home Minister ji and want to give some proper suggestion to resolve this issue. My principal suggestion is that the Government should start taking its own slogans seriously and put India first. India’s great strength and the source of much of our soft power that we talk about so much and the respect in which we are held in the world is our legacy of civilizational pluralism coupled with our robust democracy. The Indian adventure is that of human beings of different religions, languages, ethnic cities, beliefs, working together dreaming the same dreams.
Today I am proud to represent Thiruvananthapuram here where in one location, Palayam Square, you can see the Palayam Mosque, diagonally opposite to this is St. Joseph Cathedral and between them is one of the oldest Ganpati temples in the State and worshippers throng all three, joyfully celebrating each others’ special days. Our democracy in the last 70 years has been built on the idea that a nation may celebrate differences of caste, creed, colour, convictions, cuisines, customs and costumes and still rally around the consensus and that consensus is on the simple democratic idea that you do not need to agree all the time so long as you will agree on the ground rules of how you will disagree. One of those basic ground rules is respect for difference, not just respect but as Swami Vivekananda so memorably put it, ‘acceptance of difference’.
This makes diversity a source of our strength in India and not a weakness and it is the responsibility of a Government to uphold our idea of difference and to reject any attempt to dilute it. I plead with the Government to uphold this idea of India. Today our Rashtrapati Ji reminded us that Swachh Bharat starts in the mind. The dirt has to be removed from some people’s mind. Today we are ashamed when foreign newspapers report about the mounting intolerance in our country. Madam Speaker, the impression has already gained ground abroad that India is governed by reactionary forces determined to put minorities, rationalists and liberals in their place. This is posing calculable damage to our world image. The Kerala House beef inspections occurred on the very day that 50 African Heads of State every single of them a beef eater were in this city, in Delhi. What would they have thought of the intolerance of us, we as a host country? It is affecting our national security also. A Bangladeshi friend of mine was visiting Delhi that week and he told me that Islamic fundamentalists in his country were having a field day attacking India as a place where it is safer to be a cow than a Muslim. This has wide implication for the Government’s own agenda. We cannot simultaneously sell ourselves to the world. (Interruptions) We cannot sell ourselves to the world as a land of pluralism, tolerance and Gandhianism while encouraging intolerance, communal hatred and minority insecurity within the country. The Government must know you cannot promote ‘Make in India’ abroad while condoning ‘Hate in India’ at home. Through the Home Minister I want to convey a message to the Prime Minister, don’t be afraid, I won to praise him. Before the 2014 elections we all had seen a different form of Hon’ble Narendra Modiji.
When Hon’ble Modiji was addressing three to four lakh people in a rally at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna, then a bomb exploded there. We later came to know that six people lost their lives and 80 people were injured. Despite this he patiently continued his address and because of this nobody came to know what happened in the middle of the crowd. For the spectators his main message was optimistic Hindus have an easy option either they fight against poverty or with the Muslims. In this situation a cunning leader could have said so that his opponents or a terrorist from some community had tried to disturb his rally. But Hon’ble Modiji knew that by doing this a communal violence would start and many innocents would have died. At the end of the rally, Hon’ble Modiji gave a suggestion to the people to peacefully leave for their homes so that there is no stampede and everybody reaches home safely.
Hon’ble Modiji did not take advantage of this divisive temptation. Now, what has happened to Narendra Modiji? Where has his voice got lost? Has the Prime Minister forgotten his strategy of taking along everyone? Senior leaders of his party are implementing the wrong policies of political polarization, but he is quiet. This is such a bomb which is destroying the thinking of India and he is still keeping quiet. Hon’ble sir: Shashi Tharur, you complete it, otherwise your leader will not get time.
Shri Shashi Tharur: I just want to make you remember two words of Iqbal Sahib:-
‘Majhab nahin sikhata aapas mein bair rakhana,
Hindi hain hum, Hindi hain hum,
Hindi hain hum, Vatan hai Hindustan Hamara.