How the common man wielded its power and turned tables on intolerance debate

Rising intolerance has claimed 2 more victims in last 2 weeks. This time victims are well known personalities of showbiz Barkha Dutt and Shahrukh Khan. While Barkha had to face the wrath of online community which kept giving negative ratings to her newly launched book, Shahrukh faced boycott of his movie ‘Dilwale’ for saying that India is extremely intolerant.

It has been more than 3 nauseating months since media started running a vicious Rising Intolerance campaign based on cherry picked incidents to paint Hindu/upper caste as intolerant lot and blame NDA government for this. Dadri incident became the face of the campaign and Kalburgi/Pansare/Dabholkar murders played the supporting roles. While you may say that such incidents indeed happened, so what’s wrong if media is talking about them. Let me explain this by an analogy.

Most of us are familiar with Cadbury GEMS, the sweet chocolate candies coated with attractive edible colors. India is like a packet of GEMS. Every person is different from other. People of so many different religions, caste, language and color are living together in one packet (India). We look different from outside, but from inside we all are same. Despite being different at many levels, we are together. We all are Indians. That’s our strength.

But what if I deliberately take out only green color tablets from the packet? An unsuspecting person may believe that GEMS comes in green only.  India’s intolerance debate is also built by carefully picking the GEMS of only one color and trying to create a perception that people belonging to a certain section are being targeted.

So while the majority feels cheated for being labeled as intolerant for the crime they did not commit, they also have a feeling of hopelessness that media never picks the issues where people from majority community was victim. Countless brutalities in radically charged Kerala and western UP were conveniently ignored by the media because it will contradict the Hindu intolerance narrative. With such sentiments simmering already, Intolerance debate got another shot in arm when leading stars of Bollywood also became pawns in the big game. While SRK was seen saying, ‘There is extreme intolerance in the country’, Aamir expressed his wife’s apprehensions of raising kids in India. The way media has raised this topic at every possible platform be it foreign soil or Chennai flood, it is clear that the intent behind it was motivated. Just listen to the clapping by audience when Aamir mentioned about despondency. As if they were waiting for this topic to be touched. It has striking similarity with Prannoy Roy’s giggle and clapping when that NDTV girl asked IMF chief if only male Hindus will benefit from India’s growth rate. Only the pawn is changed. In first example, it was Aamir Khan while in second it was that girl.

I am not among those who would start calling names to SRK or Aamir because they said something I don’t agree with or dislike. But I feel that despite their honest intentions, Khans let themselves become the tool in this propaganda, knowingly or unknowingly. Whether it was a calculated smartness that backfired or an innocent ignorance, we will never know. It’s very ironic that Aamir Khan’s controversy happened, on the platform of Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in journalism. Our MSM found the perfect stage to showcase what it does best – selectively quote and sensationalize.

Rest as they say is browser history. Netizens went crazy uninstalling Snapdeal app, writing negative reviews to Dilwale and Barkha’s book. People who were frustrated watching media houses hijack India’s growth story and positive image to peddle their own agendas found a potent weapon and used it to hurt Khans and Barkha where it hurts the most, commercial interests. One can argue that celebs are unfairly targeted, but how far can a common man remain reasonable and fair if his interests are being hit using proxies. Both sides have to face some amount of collateral damage if boundaries are not maintained while fighting.

At the time of writing this article, Barkha was going full crazy on her Twitter TL calling names to people and engaging with people she would otherwise dismiss as trolls while I am listening to this beautiful song from 1982 blockbuster Namak Halal –

Jawaani jaan-e-man haseen dilruba
Milein do dil jawaan nisaar ho gaya
Shikaar khud yahaan shikaar ho gaya
Yeh kya sitam hua, Yeh kya zulam hua
Yeh kya ghazab hua, Yeh kaise kab hua
Na jaanu main na jaane woh…….
oho

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