‘Online extremism has lowered tolerance levels’

Apropos the plight of M/s Husain, Nasrin and Rushdie, the BJP strategist cum columnist Swapan Dasgupta offers this comment in today’s Telegraph:

“60 years of a democratic Constitution should have witnessed a steady expansion in the lakshman rekha of tolerance, and more so because the Hindu ethos is inherently accommodating and non-doctrinaire…. The opening up of the economy and the rise in prosperity did help shift the focus from the overweening preoccupation with sectarian concerns but there was no automatic drift to a more open society.

“In the past decade, the threshold of tolerance in India has been lowered considerably — thanks in no small degree to the takeover of the internet by competitive extremists. ‘Sensitivity to faith’ has come to mean accommodation of organized blackmail.

“The successful anti-Husain and anti-Taslima protests have to be seen in the context of a progressive shrinking of the enlightened public space. India imagined it would be a world player on the strength of its ‘soft power’. Today, that power is being steadily undermined by the clash of rival ghettos. The nonsense has gone on far too long and has touched dangerous heights. It’s time the country extends democratic rights to those who offend fragile sensitivities.”

Read the full article: Sensitive blackmail

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