Yes We Are Resolutely Tolerant-1

Yes We Are Resolutely Tolerant-2


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The basic tenet of ‘being humane and being civilized’ says – what is wrong will always be wrong – and can never be justified.

And like every other ‘basic tenet’ of humanity – such norms – a must for the humankind universally – must be followed in letter and spirit.

That is the ‘ideal’ situation.

And is a rarity in the prevailing political circumstances – not just in India – but in many countries across the world.

A direct corollary of that is the ongoing or the ‘raging’ political debate over ‘tolerance and intolerance’ in India.

Yes, we need to react on incidents of ‘intolerance’ if we are proud of our shared culture over the years. India is probably the only country in the world where major populations of two major religions live in relative harmony.

Yes, in harmony – because we have no other word to explain that – given the fact the country has stood together even after 68 years of independence – and is a robustly functional democracy – with a transparent electoral process.

Yes, there have been religious riots and other incidents of communal strife – but if we have stood together, as a coherent unit, even after that – it directly conveys where the priorities of the ordinary folks of these religions lie (or people of every religion in India).

And that squarely puts the political class and the opinion leaders in the dock – if there have been incidents that go against this spirit – like this atmosphere of intolerance and the debate over issues like beef politics and religious polarization.

We have lived in communal harmony for so long, for centuries – that – it is impossible to think India as a standalone nation for Hindus. Generations in India have experienced it and have assimilated it. India is of every Indian – India is for every Indian – irrespective of his or her religious affiliations.

That is the basic idea of India.

And every Indian must react to preserve this pillar on which the nations stands and grows. It is a social must. And we need to work to see until it becomes the cornerstone of our political prerogatives as well.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


And for that reason, and that reason alone, we need to fight the increasing (fringe) voices of ‪‎intolerance – because it encompasses all – every sane and insane element in the ongoing ‘tolerance Vs intolerance’ debate that has seemed to envelope the nation’s consciousness.

Is there a radically surcharged atmosphere of negative connotations in the country?

Yes. It is.

Even if it is limited to some fringe elements!

Because they present face of an eminent danger lurching all around – that their increasing mainstreaming can vitiate the atmosphere to the extent that social harmony can again be taken for ride, can be tossed, by various anti-national elements, desperate to grab any such development.

We have seen it so many times – especially during rounds of massive riots that engulfed a large part of the country’s consciousness.

It is no hidden fact that Babri demolition and riots associated with it caused some ominous and fundamental changes in ‘manifestation of religious expressions’ – both by Hindus and by Muslims.

Opinion leaders and religious satraps of Hinduism threw more claims and threw vehement claims. Loudspeakers cropped up on many mosques. And the ensuing aftermath saw many more sporadic rounds of communal violence.

But, even after that, even after several such dark chapters in our post-independence history, the common refrain from an ordinary ‘common man’ Hindu or Muslim is still that living peacefully and surviving harmoniously always get precedence over the nitty-gritty of religious affairs; that an ordinary folk has his day to day survival in mind and not these ‘supercharged elements and the resultant surcharged atmosphere’.

The Indian society has survived and survived well these – keeping them at bay – and whenever these voices got some space, the social weaving came to heal the sentiments pushing such voices to the fringes of irrelevance.

We are so ‘common and routine’ about our life and its survival priorities but not about such religious preferences that work to divide us becomes once again clear when a sensitive portrayal of our togetherness in a movie, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, binds Indian and Pakistanis together in a mission – the two nations, the two sworn enemies, the two religious domains – with history of conflicts and hostilities.

And we need to fight fringe voice to preserve this ‘so common and routine’ way of our life – whenever they try to push their course into the mainstream of our conscious – we need to push them away, to beyond even fringes of irrelevance – today or tomorrow.

Religion is an important part of our being but it should always be – as it is in our day to day life – where we decide on our worship routine – where we shape how we need to follow our religion – where we feel a friendly reverence for our Almighty – where we ‘routinely’ fear about repercussions of doing something bad, something that will hurt and thus will anger our God.

We should decide on our religious preferences and practices. Religion should never decide on who we should become.

The conscience of the universal values of humanity should the conscious of every religion –open to changes with changing times – and not the other way round.

We have been and we are resiliently tolerant and we will successfully fight this momentary, peripheral surge of intolerance.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



September 2013

Everyone knew it was administrative inaction backed by political manipulation that led to the escalation of acts of religious violence into a full blown communal riot in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district and nearby areas.

It took almost two weeks for the violence to escalate, from the initial switch to the final eruption, from the three killings on day-1 to the murder of over 50 lives, yet, the administration looked inept to handle the situation, an ineptness that was politically forced.

We all saw it. We all knew it. And it was reaffirmed again and again.

A fact finding team of some civil society activists implicated the ruling Samajwadi Party and the opposition Bhartiya Janta Party and Congress for the Muzaffarnagar riots. Okay, some valid questions can be raised about the intent of such fact finding teams.

But soon after it, a TV news channel came up with a sting operation that showed police officials talking on spy cameras how the higher-ups including Azam Khan, a senior minister in Akhilesh Yadav’s UP government, intervened and asked the police administration to remain lax and go slow, on riots and on rioters. It clearly nailed the lie.

It was in addition to the visual evidence readily available showing leaders of the SP, the BJP and the Congress party, from the two religious communities in question, delivering inflammatory speeches in public meetings and thus fueling the hostile religious sentiments.

As if it was not enough to threaten the social harmony of the area, the subsequent political reaction yesterday was a step ahead – highly condemnable, like it should always be.

Yes, it was an expected reaction, normal in the terminology of today’s political ideals, that Akhilesh Yadav’s government would rubbish the sting operation claims even if every frame was so crystal clear on the camera.

And this ‘normalization’ is a real threat to the democratic spirit of the country. Let’s see how the two senior most and important leaders and ministers of the SP government reacted on it:

Azam Khan, while flatly denying his role, took on the media**: “I want to tell the channel that this was the time to ease the situation, not aggravate it. If people like me will not be part of politics, it will be a blow to democracy. For the sake of TRPs, it is dangerous and damaging for the country that uninvestigated claims are made and taken as truths. …Since everything is being done by them (the media), I ask that the channel investigates into the claims they are making, and announce my punishment if found guilty. I give them full authority to do this immediately.”

Reports about what he said in the UP state assembly on media’s investigative roles in cases like Muzaffarnagar riots was even more acidic. And he was supported well by his chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, who dismissed the sting operation saying such things are ‘cut and paste’ and thus belittling an evidence the veracity of which was crystal clear.

Over 50 dead, more than 40,000 displaced, that is what the media reports say but talk to any well known figure of the badlands of western UP and you would come to realise the real scale of horror.

And what has been the political response to this horror – inaction, deliberate delays, ugly politics over dead bodies, interference in efforts to control the riots, insensitivity in reaching out to the victims, denying liability and responsibility and transferring police officers in haste after they put their political masters in the dock – yes, the political response has been more for inciting the religious hatred when the political class is supposed to work for the well-being of the electorate that votes it in the corridors of power.

Political response in highly sensitive issues like the Muzaffarnagar riots the flames of which could easily engulf the entire nation tells us the democracy in India and so its social weaving is in imminent danger of disintegration.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –

*“Why democracy in India is in imminent danger of disintegration?’ is a regular column on my blogging platforms to take a periodic look (say a weekly or a fortnightly or a monthly round-up of events depending on the factors in play) on political developments that are dangerous to the democratic health of the country and contribute to the process of social disintegration of the nation..”



We were just too young to think the good or bad of that. Yes, we naturally felt elated when, after spending an hour or two in school, we would get the opportunity to head back home, day after day, for many days, that year.

Some of the super-seniors in the school, whom everyone saw as bad characters and so needed to maintain a distance from, would come directly in the class, would throw some religious slogans, would ask the teacher to leave the class and would ask us to go home.

Though, we were aware that all this was happening to build the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in place of the Babri Mosque, the only point that concerned us then was the fact that we were getting an early leave from the school, an added bonus.

Initially, for some days, it all looked so pleasing to us. We had plenty of time to hang-around, to play, to read comic strips, the in-thing those days. As classes were not running, there was no pressure of home work. Cricket, candies and comic strips – the 3Cs – they flowed so smoothly.

But it didn’t last long.

One day, we were told by the parents that schools had been closed till the next information as tension was growing with increasing rallies and protests of temple-supporters. Soon after this, we were informed that curfew was clamped not just in Varanasi but in many other cities as riots had broken out.

We are aware of words ‘curfew’ and ‘riots’, but not what they meant in real terms. These were just newspapers words newly added to our vocabulary after the family elders told us about. Elders told us they meant bad, ominous developments. But for us, it was more about its dictionary meaning. Rather, for us, it was an opening into the period of more relaxed days with more time at our disposal.

But, soon, the feeling of joy was replaced by a lingering innuendo of boredom. Though our house was in a sub-lane, away from the main road where regular police patrolling was being done, we were not allowed to venture out of the house. TV had no satellite channels then. The only mode of communication was the landline phone of BSNL that we children were not allowed to use on our own.

So even if some of us were so not into the games of daily routine, like going out, playing cricket, table-tennis or hide and seek in that part of the year because winter was approaching and early arrival of darkness would give us a chance to play the game within the time set by the parents to reach back the house, we started feeling yearning for outings.

With no outdoor games, controlled TV timings, no communication with friends, of school or neighbourhood, and no school classes (yes school and daily trip to it were looking better options now), we soon started feeling isolated, as if we were incarcerated on an island and there was no set timeline for our freedom.

But there was more to come. The menu of meals at home was getting increasingly same, day after day, and so tasteless. No milk was non-issue but tea or coffee, that was first on a reduced availability, and soon became sporadically available, and that too, if anyone could go out during the relaxed curfew hours and if was lucky enough to get some milk.

Also, as parents and elders, too, were restricted to the house, it resulted in the development we needed the least, in fact we detested. Since they, too, did not have much to do, their attention was drawn directly to our free time, that how much of time we were wasting, that we could utilize the time to cover the syllabus to get ahead of others. And soon, we had more than willing teachers monitoring us all the time.

24/7 teachers, a dull menu day after day, no outdoor games, no talking to friends, no enjoying the daily trip to the school and back home, no new comic strips, (no milk was ok but) no milk or coffee – we were having a troubling time and we had no idea how long our ordeal was going to continue. Even the long hours of the school-time were (we were increasingly realising) much better than this (though, a realisation that didn’t last long, once, the school was routine, again). But then, in the circumstances of ‘pushed’ study hours and reduced free time, we were missing the school and the freedom associated with it like anything.

With every passing day, we were getting disappointed, we were getting frustrated and we were getting angry. And on our target were those who took our freedom, who took out rallies, got our school closed, and spread riots. We would curse them in whatever words we could. We even planned to punish them if they came across us. For us, the only culprits were those who orchestrated the rallies, the curfew and the riots and they deserved the severest punishment our thinking could think of.

Our ordeal did make us experience the negatives of words like ‘curfew’ or ‘riots’ but we were still not able to understand why these words were so bad in effect.

We also thought, before punishing them, if they came across us, that we would first ask them the ‘why’ of this ‘badness’ behind ‘curfew’ and ‘riots’ and so of our ‘ordeal’ and the ‘why’ of why they spread it if it was so bad.

The plans still echo, even after so many years, whenever riots kill the humanity. Yes, age brings to you the understanding of ‘why’ of words like curfew and riots but still, the ‘why’ remains.

Why a person kills a person in the name of God when He is the creator of us all, when He is in each of us?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Those who are killed had Religions. Yes, they could have died for their Religions but they would have never thought to die for their Religion in this way.

Those who killed, claim to have Religion. Those who orchestrate such killings claim to have a Religion.

But they, who perpetrate, cannot have any Religion.

So what is Religion for them?

Over 30 are already killed in the religious riots in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district. On the face of it, if we say ‘how it all happened’ gives rise to the valid points of suspicion, we would absolutely be on the point.

A young chief minister, who was claimed to be dynamic and efficient, has belied all the expectations by the first year of his term.

We don’t need to write on the unprecedented deterioration of law and order situation in UP for it. Even if we take into account on how the administration and the UP government moved on the fresh batch of over 100 communal riots during the Akhilesh Yadav’s regime, it bares all.

The young chief minister of UP acted so promptly to suspend a young and honest IAS officer justifying his act under the shield of ‘averting the communal flare-up’ when every development, every incident was saying to the contrary. The illicit interests of his partymen and his personal bias against an honest lady officer became paramount then.

The same chief minister was nowhere when the communal tension in Muzaffarnagar was brewing up and the communally sensitive district was simmering under religious tension.

The killing of over 30 in communal violence has not happened in one day. For many days, since August 27, when the first three of these killings were perpetrated, small but regular incidents and sporadic killings were taking place and fake videos were being circulated on social media platforms. The ground to react impulsively resulting in large scale violence was deliberately being set up.

But the young chief minister could not see it. Neither was he informed by his partymen, the party workers, who claim to get an honest IAS officer transferred within 40 minutes.

The Samajwadi Party government in UP has been an utter failure, on every front. It going this way so soon, in 18 odd months, clears once again that the party had no vision on how to continue, once into the government.

It had no development roadmap further but to appease its trademark votebanks – Yadavs and Muslims. Muslims in Muzaffarnagar make for over 38 per cent of the district’s population, a large consolidate votebank that can easily outdo the fractured majority Hindu votebank.

A polarisation of Muslim votebank here would help the Samajwadi Party in Muzaffarnagar as well as in UP where, according to an analysis, on 54 Lok Sabha seats, Muslims make for more than 11 per cent of the vote share, a significant proportion to swing the electoral results.

It is not the only reason to feel threatened. The pro-Muslim polarisation efforts would directly induce the anti-Muslim sentiments giving the pro-Hindu polarisation forces an open communal ground to exploit, to outdo the effect of a ‘polarised consolidated Muslim votebank’.

That must not be. Because, once it begins, it would be uncontrollable. That has been the case, always.

And where are we in this game votebank manipulations?

Who are they manipulating our sentiments on religious grounds?

What is their Religion?

No, they cannot have any Religion but ‘clinging to power anyhow’. That is their only ‘practicing Religion’, irrespective of which Religion they belong to.

It is barbaric – pushing one human being to kill another in the name of a God who traces his origin to the one common Source in the evolutionary history of civilization.

We are nothing but the subjects to be sacrificed in the course of political experiments to further the political agendas.

We are the idiots who seldom realise what Religion should be for us. Instead, we act for the Religion they told us our Religion is. Nothing else can be said of us if we kill the fellow human beings in the name of a Religion, in the name of a God.

We are the spineless creatures who become the ultimate tools of uncontrollable religious anger spewing in the streets that only sees the ‘red’ of the blood and not the ‘flesh’ that is axed to smear that ‘red’.

It will go on until we realise who the God is and what the Religion should be for us.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


We are to be blamed. We cannot shirk the responsibility. And so we are rightly to be condemned.

But who are we?

Are we the idiots, the nonsensical stuff, who are tailor-made to remain so.

You may disagree but, logically, I am correct.

What else should we be when we, so foolishly, elect the set of corrupt and criminally tainted politicians year after year, election after election?

What else should we be when we blindly follow the godmen who defy every tenet of godly behaviour?

Who else could we be when we fail to identify what is good for us, what is bad for us, what is practical for us, and what is logical for us?

Who else could we be when we repeat the mistake, again and again, not learning from the innumerable chances that our mistakes, that our errors of judgement, that our misplaced sense of discretion, give us, again and again.

Politics is supposed to be the sociological function to shape and strengthen the democracy in a country like India. Politicians are supposed to be the elected custodians to serve the cause of the people to support the elements of democracy.

Religion is supposed to be the ideological, spiritual and social function that inculcates a discipline to follow life according to the norm in a society, a norm that intends to promote the humane values, the concept of ‘humanity first’.

But, both, politics and religion are creating effects, events and undercurrents in the society and in the country that are antithesis to these supposed functions.

Add to it the cancerous concoction of religion and politics. It completes the circle of exploitation, of democracy, in the name of democracy.

And we, the idiots, are source of this jeopardy.

We keep on electing leaders while they are in jails. We keep on voting them in power even if they are illiterate, have been incarcerated for their criminal attributes, have court cases piled up against them, and are even alleged of murdering other human beings. The proportion of such politicians in the political lot is increasing at a dominating rate.

We keep on following and worshipping babas, the godmen, like fanatics even if they are jailed for allegations like rape and murder, even if they throw tantrums like film celebrities, even if they defy the god the name of whom they use to sanctify their unholy godliness.

Yes, we are to be blamed. We cannot shirk the responsibility. And so we are rightly to be condemned for the predicament we are in, for the imminent threat the Indian democracy is in.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Writing about this problem doesn’t make any difference on its state of perpetual apathy. The almost of who are in the fray are beyond redemption. They all are same under the skin, an illicit brotherhood to further their common interests.

Ignoring or maintaining a distance from the epidemic cannot help either. It is heading for a systemic failure and the best fight back to it can be while being in the System, while being a part of it.

And so, the fresh thinking and new entrants with a vow to fight the wrongs in the System are in urgent need.

Sadly, that is not happening. Reform, there, is still about rhetoric and empty words and even the beginning of the process, that no one can decide, define or conceptualize, sounds like daydreaming.

The grip of rotten values and insensitive politics has spread so deep and wide that it rapidly co-opts almost of such entrants. Those who still maintain the stand are made ineffective, cornered or wiped out.

If we look back to gather some names in the recent past, when the process of deterioration has frighteningly speeded up, we don’t find any.

But even if we go back into the history of the post-independence India, we don’t find many names. All we have is apolitical Vinoba Bhave or social and political icons like Ram Manohar Lohia or Jayaprakash Narayan.

But continuance of Congress as the major political force in India, during and after them, and its sustained rule even after the Emergency of 1970s tell nothing much has moved in the name of political reforms in the country.

Initial day of post-Emergency period did give the nation its first non-Congress government but it fell owing to its own fault lines. Worse, many of its firebrand leaders are prominent politicians today, comfortably co-opted by the brand of politics that has come to be known as insensitive, corrupt and increasingly dictatorial, a brand of politics commonly associated with the Congress party.

Recently, after over three decades of the days of the Emergency era, we had first genuine hopes for Political System reform when the country was swept by a huge anti-corruption mass movement. Though it was urban in nature, its wide base and self-propagating nature told there could be some leaders from the movement, who if took the political plunge in future, would be serious players to reform the Indian politics.

For some time, Arvind Kejriwal or even Anna Hazare (in spite of his age) looked as probables for the alternative to today’s politicians. But, the way Kejriwal looked in haste and split with Anna Hazare to form his political outfit was shadowy.

Now fully in politics, he is yet to reach out to tell us if he is different. Only time will tell about it but his ‘could not rise to the occasion’ performance on two of the recent anti-reform and anti-democratic moves by politicians to scuttle the Supreme Court decisions on electoral reforms and to dilute the RTI Act, disappoints. There are clear and pertinent risks of him being co-opted in the future.

Political reforms in country have lingered on for long. Except for some high points, there has not been much to talk about. But, at the same time, the need for a political alternative is more desperate than ever.

And it has to come from within only, from this rotten System only. This System has to be won from within only. The need to fight back the rot is more desperate than ever.

BUT HOW? Still, no one can decide or define it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


I am sharing here my responses on a discussion themed ‘being spiritual and being religious’ on a social media platform. One many find jumps in the content as I have put my responses here to different sub-questions of the discussion subject but reading the whole will give a whole picture of it, I can assure.

Religious and Spiritual people – are they really different?

Do we need to separate Spirituality from Religion?

Haven’t we created a world of ambiguities without realizing that these two terms are essentially complementary to each other?

Yes, it is a political problem. It might be cliché to say, but is universally true that no religious text, if read as a pure text, with objectivity, would allow all that has been happening today, that we call religious wars or civilization clashes.

Evolution began bare and naked and it has been shaped by both, religion and spirituality, and in-turn, religion and spirituality have shaped each other and are shaping each other.

I don’t see it as good or bad religions. Rather, it is good religions and their distorted versions and spiritual quotient is the segregator here.

Yes, partly, it is because, we listen to the fundamentalists and not what the ‘texts’ say. We listen to their interpretations by others and not what they actually say to us.

This distortion of religious views and their preferential interpretations began much early in the evolutionary history of the human civilization and strengthened with ‘people worship’ and ‘cult following’.

In India, the early Vedic period doesn’t speak of the caste system but now, we are a country riddled with thousands of castes and sub-castes.

The Sufi saints, considered the embodiment of Spirituality, read and interpreted the Islam Spiritually and they are followed across the Globe, by people of every following who love the aesthetics of culture and tradition. Rumi is the best known example of it.

That is what I mean when I say ‘distortion’. What about if the text has been distorted as in the case of the Vedic tradition and the caste-system in India? Manipulation of the written text – it’s in a history that no one can go back to validate, but almost every religious text has been distorted to suit the leadership of the time.

And it will go on.

The herd mentality! The need to have a leader to follow! No realization of the quest to know the ‘self’. And so the space for such doctrines and so the push for the fundamentalist bigots!

But, there were always the Souls, in every generation who kept preserved the true essence of the concept of ‘god’ or almighty or whatever we say – the ‘spiritual Connect of a religious symbolism’.

For being religious, one doesn’t need to read the religious text or follow some religious doctrine.

The written literature and so the prevalent notions are juxtapositions of individual viewpoints that find connecting vibes in every generation.

It is up to us, how we want to move ahead. Whether we want to go ahead with the misplaced symbols perpetuating such dichotomies or we opt to strive for the light that could clear our vision.

The world began to see the same Vedic tradition and Vedanta that had seen manipulations for thousands of years, in a new spiritual light when Swami Vivekanand started spreading it beginning with his historical lecture at the Parliament of World’s Religions in 1893 in Chicago. Swami Vivekananda was an atheist initially and his Guru, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was illiterate.

No one can deny the influence of the great Souls who have prevailed throughout the history, contemporaries of the brutal warlords, tearing and manipulating the religious texts. They have been the ‘healing balance’.

Buddha didn’t create a religion of his own. Instead he filtered out the good from the ‘distorted’, from the existing bad and interpreted it in the universal language of humanity.

And we cannot say Buddha was ‘not religious’ or ‘not spiritual’. He was both.

True. I wrote of Buddha. I wrote of Vivekananda. For me, they and many others like them are the people to go back to. Their legacy makes them qualified. Like in the Indian tradition, there would be many in every other tradition.

A Nazi party worker, Oskar Schindler, could find the good in him and could save over a thousand Jews.

Yes, it’s individual. What I think, other would think and interpret in a different way. But the final goal has to be to ‘see the light’, to find the ‘peace’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –