OPINION

The 14th of February - Day Against Intolerance

February 08, 2009
thedailypheesh

Let me begin with a disclaimer. I am often a skeptic when it comes to Valentine's day or any other day(including my own birthday, though old habits die hard). 'Days' affirm certain identities, give us an opportunity to celebrate and generally feel good. While I agree we do need such occasions, I also believe that the celebrations(and the rampant commercialization that often goes with it) sometimes obscure the questions we ought to ask ourselves. That's a subject for another time. The question is what now.

The Sri Ram Sene plans to 'marry off'(or en-brother/en-sister) men and women who would want to spend time together on the 14th of February. I am sure their sibling organizations, delighted at the oxygen their cause has received over the past couple of weeks, will be gearing up to go on the offensive on the same day. It's a toss up whether any state government will actually set out to protect those who dare to defy the culture police. The reasons are obvious, the unsavory dictates of politics that have been frequently analyzed and at a deeper level, the large gaps is society that the saffron hordes exploit. All signs point to yet another victory for those who would want to impose an archaic moral code on an ever-diversifying society.

Unless we chose to make a statement. Unless we decide that the 14th of February 2009 will be an occasion for a fresh engagement with our own society and our times. Let the 14th of February be a day of protest, a day for spreading awareness about the organizations and the mentality that give rise to such intolerance. Let February 14 also be a day of contemplation, a day for educating ourselves on our rights and our duties as citizens so that we know what we deserve and how much we must struggle to maintain it.

However education achieves only so much. If there is to be any impact, it must be via collective action. While Valentine's day is essentially a private celebration, the need of the hour is to ensure that people gather and make a statement. We need rallies and banners, slogans and placards. The size of the group does not matter. All that is required is concerted action. Besides any 'enforcer' of morality would think twice before assaulting a group.

Equally important is the right kind of chronicling. It is imperative to record each and every incident that occurs that day and ensure that there is greater awareness of them. We often are unaware of our own cities. We often see incidents like that in Mangalore with the comfort of distance. It is necessary to throw away those tinted glasses.

There will of course be a lot of criticism and doubt about such an idea. "Bah! mere symbolism" is likely to be the most common objection. Another is the question of how necessary such protests are when we have bigger issues at stake. After all, the logic would go, the section of society that is affected by such policing is pretty small and there are so many more significant issues. I understand the skepticism of those who doubt symbolism(see para 1). But it is also true that despite the often ephemeral nature of symbolism(especially in this age of saturated coverage), there are certain times when it does help mobilize opinion and spread some hope. After all, it's just symbolism. It can't hurt and is definitely worth a try.

It is perhaps true that there are issues that are more dire than the freedom of men and women to spend time together in a public space on a specific day. However I do not believe it's ever a question of either/or. The liberty that an individual or a group of individuals enjoy cannot and should not be exclusive in the sense that the achievement of(or the need to achieve) liberty for one group should lead to the suppression of the liberty of the other. There are occasions when an individual must sacrifice aspects of his liberty for a cause but assuredly, the creation of a society based on a prehistoric code of morals is not one such cause!

It is important that even those who are unsympathetic to Valentine's day or public displays of affection see this issues as one of an Indian citizen's basic rights. There is a huge section of the populace which even while rejecting the Sangh Parivar's political and cultural agenda as a whole, remain sympathetic to individual elements of it. They are a constituency that must be addressed and convinced of the need to stand up against mob culture even if it be in the name of an Utopian society of the pure.

So let us for once forgo Archies and gather as a group, whether it be on the streets or on forums online and ensure that the 14th of February is 'celebrated' as India's own "Day against Intolerance"*

*The International Day for Tolerance is celebrated by the UNESCO on the 16th of November every year.

thedailypheesh is a Masters Graduate and a software employee.
eXTReMe Tracker
Keep reading for comments on this article and add some feedback of your own!

Comments! Feedback! Speak and be heard!

Comment on this article or leave feedback for the author

#1
Lord Macaulay
URL
February 8, 2009
10:19 PM

[STOP SPAMMING THE BOARD WITH THE SAME COMMENT]

#2
temporal
URL
February 8, 2009
10:43 PM

and who dictates determines this identity my cyber lordship?

#3
Vishwakarma Lamba
URL
February 8, 2009
11:18 PM

From that IP:

* "Ranjan Mishra" has posted 1 comments
* "Vishwakarma Lamba" has posted 1 comments

#4
Aditi N
February 9, 2009
12:11 AM

"It is perfectly peaceful to purchase valentines day cards and burn them on the streets"

Fire-fighters say that open fires are open hazards. More importantly, our portly traffic policemen in India have a hard time as it is without having to stomp out burning greet cards that might further clog city transport.

How about this perfectly peaceful option: Sit at home and seethe and fume about Valentine's Day celebrations until you foam at the mouth. See, perfectly peaceful and yet anti-Valentine's Day too! To minimize any damage from this strategy just use a bib for the foam.

#5
Anon
February 9, 2009
01:23 AM

"Sit at home and seethe and fume about Valentine's Day celebrations until you foam at the mouth. See, perfectly peaceful and yet anti-Valentine's Day too! To minimize any damage from this strategy just use a bib for the foam."

Intolerance against what someone else thinks is their own way of peaceful protest???

#6
Mrigank Chaudhary
URL
February 9, 2009
01:32 AM

It is not a good idea to censor peoples opinion. If other people copy someones comments and repost them, that does not mean the original comments need to get deleted.

I am reposting my friend Lord Macaulays comments below again, even though I dont fully agree with them.
[RE-POSTING THE SAME COMMENT ACROSS THE BOARD IS SPAM]

#7
Aditi N
February 9, 2009
02:32 AM

#5 Unfortunately, the thing is our own ideas of "peaceful" don't matter. See for example: Seriously speaking I believe that sofas are a Western concept. We should burn them and sit on charpoys or straw mats like our ancestors did. So lets say, I decided that it is perfectly peaceful to burn my furniture on the streets as a mark of protest against the Western forms of carpentry. The fire department and local law enforcement may have a problem with that because of a little piece of paper called the constitution.

Democracy can be a bitch, can't it? I mean on one hand it gives you all these freedoms and then on the other hand it tells you you cannot burn stuff on the street.

I say you go to Afghanistan and join hands with the Taliban where leave alone burning greeting cards, they will let you stone people who celebrate Valentine's Day if you'd like.

#8
Anon
February 9, 2009
03:15 AM

Sorry, you can't burn your furniture in the US.

We can definitely burn greeting cards in India along with all the garbage that the Municipal Corporation burns everyday close by. Or we can just make a pile and make a bonfire in front of our house. No need to go to Afganistan.

Not everyone who wants to burn V Day cards wants to stone people who celebrate V Day. I am sure those who want to appreciate your tip.

#9
mit
URL
February 9, 2009
07:06 AM

hi
good article
on valentines day the boys and girls should enjoy in group,and when gundas come they should beat them and hand them to police.
they dont have any right to attact on our constitution of india.
http://realityviews.blogspot.com/

#10
Aditi N
February 9, 2009
08:31 AM

Anon: "We can definitely burn greeting cards in India along with all the garbage that the Municipal Corporation burns everyday close by"

Yes, you must burn the cards in the garbage then or in front of your house...BUT NOT in the middle of a STREET as was previously suggested. THAT would not be "peaceful".

If want to coincide this protest with the Municipal Corporation's garbage burning then your timing is going to have to be pretty impeccable.

#11
Kerty
February 9, 2009
01:41 PM

Can you dictate how people should conduct protests? The whole idea of protest is to be non-violent(if not, than token violence that is symbolic) but at the same time be disruptive and provocative that forces the issue from the protesters' point of view.

#12
Sumanth
February 9, 2009
04:14 PM

We got the permission of police to protest on 14th February at Mahatma Gandhi Statue, MG Road, Bangalore from morning 10:30 am till 1:00pm.

We will be protesting against intolerance by Renuka Choudhury and her lack of love for Indian family and her role in arrest of 1,23,000 innocent women in last 4 years under dowry laws.

We will shout,"Renuka Choudhury. Hai Hai!!"

We will also shout,"United Nations!! Get lost" for its intolerant false anti-indian propaganda.


#13
commonsense
February 9, 2009
08:18 PM

sumanth, sounds good! can I join in?

#14
kerty
February 9, 2009
08:31 PM

CS

You will have to shout "Renuka Choudhury. Hail Hail!!" when other side shouts "Renuka Choudhury. Ho Hai!!"

#15
Chandra
February 9, 2009
08:49 PM


It is this pointless waste of space in the media that is a bigger problem. In the past 10-15 years we have made great strides through massive participation of middle class woman in the work place, this was done without even a small proportion of the fuss that we see both by the Ram Sene and lefty liberals. No doubt that extremist forces have to be countered but the response from the liberals has been over the top and sometimes plain silly. A simple example was the shruthi case which has completely died down when people realised that people from her dad's party were the 'assailants' and in fact nobody now backs up her story that she was kidnapped. It was a convenient story as long as the saffron right was involved. Now no more. The point is, yes we cannot accept the nonsense that we saw in Mangalore, yes we should protest but articles of this type are clearly over the top.

#16
Raman Nene
URL
February 9, 2009
11:38 PM

From that IP:

* "Priya Bhanot" has posted 2 comments
* "none" has posted 1 comments
* "Raman Nene" has posted 1 comments
* "Gopal Swamy" has posted 1 comments

#17
Debraroy Mukherjee
URL
February 10, 2009
12:10 AM

[JACK-PASTING]

#18
Suresh ram
February 10, 2009
02:24 AM

United Nations Population Fund Leader Says Family Breakdown is a Triumph for Human Rights
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

MEXICO CITY, February 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A leader in theUnited Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has declared that the breakdown of traditional families, far from being a "crisis," is actually a triumph for human rights.

Speaking at a colloquium held last month at Colegio Mexico in Mexico City, UNFPA representative Arie Hoekman denounced the idea that high rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births represent a social crisis,claiming that they represent instead the triumph of "human rights"against "patriarchy."

"In the eyes of conservative forces, these changes mean that the family is in crisis," he said.
"In crisis? More than a crisis, we are in the presence of a weakening of the patriarchal structure, as aresult of the disappearance of the economic base that sustains it and because of the rise of new values centered in the recognition of fundamental human rights."


#19
Sumanth
February 10, 2009
06:21 AM

Family Breaking boosts economy on short run.

So, they promote false statistics and intolerance to break family system.

For some anti-Indian idiots anything that comes out of western ass is a gospel.


Intolerance can be marketed. If people beat up these intolerant, then it is wrong. Thats bullshit.

Kitply can show women slapping men in advertisement, that is not intolerance.

Beating Arrak sellers and arrak drinkers in villages by feminists is social work. They get Govt funds for that.

Beating pub owners and drinkers is intolerance and infringement of freedom.

Who defines, what is intolerance?

Is anything that comes out of western ass tolerant?

#20
Anon
February 10, 2009
10:10 AM

"Yes, you must burn the cards in the garbage then or in front of your house...BUT NOT in the middle of a STREET as was previously suggested. THAT would not be "peaceful"

Aditi, thank you for policing from the US, but we have local police here to look after what disrupts peace or does not.

#21
Anon
February 10, 2009
10:12 AM

"If want to coincide this protest with the Municipal Corporation's garbage burning then your timing is going to have to be pretty impeccable."

Where there is a will there is a way. Thanks for the concern though.

#22
Aditi N
February 10, 2009
10:59 AM

"Aditi, thank you for policing from the US, but we have local police here to look after what disrupts peace or does not"

I am not policing. And it shouldn't matter where I am. It is none of your business. Our discource is in the cyber-world. And the last time I checked India doesn't belong to you.

Thanks for telling me that there are local police around to deal with hooligans who haven't found better ways to overcome their juvenile delinquency. Maybe thats what the likes of you deserve: tear gas and laathis. I hope their will is stronger than your ways.

"Thanks for the concern though"

Believe it or not my concern is not for you.

#23
Anon
February 10, 2009
11:16 AM

"It is none of your business. "

And what we do in our street in India is your business!!!

"And the last time I checked Indian doesn't belong to you."

Correct. "Indian" does not belong to me. I belong to India.

"Thanks for telling me that there are local police around to deal with hooligans who haven't found better ways to overcome their juvenile delinquency. Maybe thats what the likes of you deserve: tear gas and laathis. I hope their will is stronger than your ways."

Again, intolerance about someone else's idea of protest even if it does not involve violence and does not involve anything to do with you.

#24
Anon
February 10, 2009
11:34 AM

"Maybe thats what the likes of you deserve: tear gas and laathis. I hope their will is stronger than your ways."

What you are wishing for the "likes of me" is exactly what the British did to Indians who burned foreign goods in the name of Swadesi Movement.

#25
Kerty
February 10, 2009
12:12 PM

The St. valentine day is THE day of intolerance:

Who was St. Valentine? Why is he called 'Saint' and celebrated by Catholics? There are many myths going around to promote St Valentine. There was nothing extra-ordinary about life of St. Valentine and what he did, which has been done by countless people around the world - than why this guy has been chosen to celebrate? Here is why:

In the catholic theology, church becomes the first family, the holy father and holy mother. Under pagan culture, it is the birth family that remains the first family, and biological parents as holy father and mother. So the bottleneck before catholic church was how to convert this pagan culture into catholic culture where foundation of pagan culture can be turned upside down, where church becomes the first family and real biological family takes a back seat. That is where St. valentine's relevance comes into play, why ideas embodied in St. valentine were so monumental in expanding the empire of catholicism that demolished native pagan cultures everywhere catholicism went. St valentine took the pagan festival and turned it against the pagan culture. St. valentine attacks the very foundations of love and committment that forms the foundation of family and relationships. It reduces them to tokenism and symbolism and insignificance. Thus, it removes family as a center of power in a socio-political landscape, and makes church and state to be sole power centers. In stead of people looking up to family and pagan culture, they look for saviors elsewhere, thus is born the race to save the downtrodden and the sinners, where different entities(state, church, ideologies) vie to save the fallen mankind. Its like digging a ditch so people can fall in order to pose as saviors who pull them out of the ditch.

St. Valentine day made a splash in India after Pope announced he wants to harvest souls in India. But it really took off only after Catholic Sonia entered the political frays. You can chart the meteroic rise of St. Valentine day to the rise of Sonia on the Indian political scene. Her job is to harvest souls and destroy the pagan culture of India. And like a arch-Duryodhana, it only counts wounds it receives, however minor, but not the mayham it inflicts on its wake.

#26
Aditi N
February 10, 2009
12:19 PM

"What you are wishing for the "likes of me" is exactly what the British did to Indians who burned foreign goods in the name of Swadesi Movement"

No. What I am wishing for is what Mumbai police routinely does to rioters and people who disrupt peace in the middle of a democratic, pluralistic, secular society. Seems like the freedom fighters fought for nothing. Thye just made way for "freedom-abusers"


"Mumbai, Aug 16

The Navi Mumbai police on Thursday had to resort to lathi charge and burst tear gas shells to suppress violence by the Shiv Sena party members, who were protesting against the setting up of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Maha Mumbai SEZ."

Look here Anon, this will be my last response to you: you can argue with me on this forum endlessly for the sake of arguing; take four words from here, paste two sentences there, etc. We can keep doing this all day.

But that won't make your actions right. If you put up a bonfire in the middle of a street, causing a hazard, creating a potential riot or endangering the lives of innocent civilians in a free country, you won't be remembered as a freedom fighter but maybe as someone who fought the very essence of freedom.

"And what we do in our street in India is your business!!"

Absolutely! No doubt. It is. If you were doing this in Gaza, I would still protest it and make it my business. That is the beauty of the internet.

#27
anon
February 10, 2009
12:29 PM

That's the tragedy of the internet. Snooty NRIs who wouldn't care if India sunk into the Indian ocean lecture other Indians on plurality, secularism and democracy. Tragedy indeed!

#28
Sumanth
February 10, 2009
12:38 PM

"They just made way for "freedom-abusers."

Indian state is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world. There is no justice for masses in India. Any poor person can be picked up by police and tortured. A poor person can be abused and exploited by rich.

So, people go to Shiv Sena.

Those who deny "freedom" to masses by remaining silent to atrocities by Govt and Police, must not crib if people take law into their hands and get violent.

The land mafia, exploits the villagers. Govt does nothing. Being fed up the people go to Shiv Sena.

We the intellectuals do not give a damn about masses, pain of poor and weaker people.

Indian democracy is an ass.

But, media shouts,"it is a victory of democracy", where as 20% of names in voter lists belong to those, who do not exist or are dead.

After all, media gets advertisements from political parties. If it says democracy in India is a joke, then which political party will give it ads?

#29
SD
February 10, 2009
02:32 PM

Anon: "Snooty NRIs who wouldn't care if India sunk into the Indian ocean lecture other Indians on plurality, secularism and democracy"

in case you weren't aware: secularity, plurality democracy etc are not "Indian" concepts. people from all over the world discuss these issues.

This thread is a discussion. Not a lecture. Leave if you don't want to participate.

if you are out of logical arguments say so. Don't go calling people you don't know names. btw n.r.i's have families in India who get affected whenever riots and public disturbances are carried out by you and your buddies. they may not reside in india but they are indian citizens nonetheless. events there affect them.

if the internet is so tragic then here is a solution: turn your computer off.

#30
smallsquirrel
February 10, 2009
02:56 PM

oh anon, give it a freakin rest. if one of those bonfires stopped a public service you wanted you'd be the first one whinging about disruption. never mind that a bonfire in the middle of the street could stop an ambulance from saving a life, or stop police from responding to an actual crime. that makes you no different than the shiv sena or the SRS. you are (all) simply ignorant.

and an indian is an indian whether living in mumbai or montreal. who are you to define others?

#31
Anon
February 10, 2009
05:11 PM

"No. What I am wishing for is what Mumbai police routinely does to rioters and people who disrupt peace in the middle of a democratic, pluralistic, secular society."

You don't have to be a rioter to burn V Day cards on the street nor do you have to disrupt peace. But you have to be pretty intolerant to want police to beat up peaceful protesters.

"Seems like the freedom fighters fought for nothing. Thye just made way for "freedom-abusers".

Running around semi-naked in the street is freedom of expression and we need to give bravery awards for that. Burning of V Day cards in a street is abuse of freedom (does not matter what kind of street we are talking about here), and people need to be beaten up for that. Did not expect anything better from liberal moral police.

#32
Anon
February 10, 2009
05:14 PM

"No. What I am wishing for is what Mumbai police routinely does to rioters and people who disrupt peace in the middle of a democratic, pluralistic, secular society."

You don't have to be a rioter to burn V Day cards on the street nor do you have to disrupt peace. But you have to be pretty intolerant to want police to beat up peaceful protesters.

"Seems like the freedom fighters fought for nothing. Thye just made way for "freedom-abusers".

Running around semi-naked in the street is freedom of expression and we need to give bravery awards for that. Burning of V Day cards in a street is abuse of freedom (does not matter what kind of street we are talking about here), and people need to be beaten up for that. Did not expect anything better from liberal moral police.

#33
Anon
February 10, 2009
05:16 PM

"Seems like the freedom fighters fought for nothing."

Maybe, freedom fighters fought for a lot of things, but they also left a lot more to fight for.

#34
Anon
February 10, 2009
05:30 PM

SD and SS:

#27 (anon) is not the one talking about bonfires, but maybe by NRIs, he/she meant "Non-Reliable Indians" and they can exist in all parts of the world.

SS:

"if one of those bonfires stopped a public service you wanted you'd be the first one whinging about disruption."

Why do you want to assume that I will be stopping public service?

"that makes you no different than the shiv sena or the SRS. you are (all) simply ignorant."

No, making extreme comments based on assumptions just because you somehow dislike someone protesting V Day just makes you intolerant.

"indian is an indian whether living in mumbai or montreal. who are you to define others?"

Correct. Only liberals can define others and give labels such as "freedom abusers", "rioters" etc.

Add your comment

(Or ping: http://desicritics.org/tb/8764)

Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.






Remember Name/URL?

Please preview your comment!