Feb 13 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai)
Pavan K Varma
We cannot simply assume tolerance, to evade holding up present-day acts to scrutiny
Anupam Kher is a fine actor, and a friend. We were co-panelists recently at the concluding debate of the Jaipur Literature Festival. The subject was, predictably , freedom of speech and the related issue of tolerance.
I found Anupam exceptionally sensitive to any criticism about intolerance in India. It was as if criticism of any kind was tantamount to denying the greatness of Indian civilisation, especially Hindu civilisation. To question or interrogate anything happening today was seen as denunciatory of past achievements, and, therefore, smacking of ingratitude and disloyalty , almost equivalent to social treason.
To me, such an approach presents a fine example of circular reasoning: because, as a civilisation, we had undeniable tolerance in the past, we do not need to introspect on derogations of that legacy today . And because we refuse to see what may be going wrong today , it is legitimate for us to only quote the past.
Recently , a Tanzanian female student was attacked and stripped in public on a street in Bengaluru. It was an open act of racism by members of an incorrigibly colour conscious society , a brown nation attacking those of a darker shade of colour.