Aamir Khan, raised a storm by saying that his wife, fearing the rising intolerance in India, had spoken to him about migrating out of India. This is not an isolated case and the debate on rising intolerance has been raging for some time now. Intellectuals have been returning the awards by the score and media has been quick to latch onto it and the issue has captured the front pages of newspapers and prime time on TV debates.
Let us looks at the people who have returned their awards. It started with Nayantara Sahgal and continued with Anand Patwardhan, Dibakar Bannerjee (with all due respect to those whose names I have not mentioned) and reached its peak with Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan adding their support to the for-Intolerance voice on the debate. Journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose and Barkha Dutt have been running prime time debates to prove this notion correct. Now they all come from very different backgrounds, authors, actors and journalists, a fact used by opposition parties to rubbish claims of a pre-planned attack on the government.
But if you look closely they all have something in common. They are all used to a one-way medium of communication. Since time immemorial their ilk has tossing their opinion out to the general masses that have by and large lapped it up as the gospel truth. All this changed suddenly with the advent of social media. Their opinions no longer went unchallenged. Their opinions (and lies) were not allowed to pass. Earlier even if one knew what they were propagating was untrue he/she was limited in the ability to counter it because the media would not give space to a contrarian view. They had together formed a cartel which monopolized the Idea of India.
These intellectuals could not digest the fact that their fortress had been breached by people who they believed were incapable of making choices of forming opinions. Lies and propaganda spread by the media was countered and by facts. The other opinion had found a voice. Thus they teamed up together to quash this voice and termed it intolerance. The intellectuals cry themselves hoarse freely on public forums and still claim their Freedom of Expression is being stifled while anyone who counters them with facts is labeled a troll and hence intolerant. The intellectual then immediately claims to be a victim of this intolerance. And the cycle continues.
The icing on the cake was when the “dirty unwashed masses” decided to choose a PM who they did not approve of. They have now taken it as a challenge to restore what they believe is order. The ruling class must remain the opinion forming and decision making class while the masses must simply agree to whatever they are fed. To quote a line from Aamir Khan’s Lagaan “tum saala ghulam log hamesha humara jooti ka neeche rahega” (add a Brit accent for effect).