By Vijay Darda | 06-03-2017
A traumatic situation of intolerance is prevailing these days. An ideology is evolving rapidly that is not just rejecting all other ideologies but also boasts of finishing them off soon. I have seen several eras from childhood to the present age. I was a member of the Rajya Sabha for 18 years and I saw divergent opinions being expressed in the august House. I saw one member trying to prove another wrong but the present era is more worrisome because competition has transformed into revenge. There was never a time earlier when anybody spoke of destroying other school of thinking!
This new ideology which is flourishing now has severe limitations within. It does not have patience nor energy to listen to others. It is too impatient. As a result, the ideology of arrogance is hell-bent on crossing the borders of civilized discourse. As soon as a note of dissent is heard at a college or university, this group is ready to clash and fight the opponents. The situation is such as to make one doubt whether these intolerant elements are being patronised by those in power. It’s really dangerous situation. Divergent thoughts and ideas are the bedrock of democracy. If words begin to lose their meaning who will protect democracy? Democracy means that there is place for every ideology. The nature of democracy should be tolerant. If bigotry begins to dominate in a democracy, we can safely conclude that we are on the wrong path.
So what is the right way? The overenthusiastic proponents of ideology of incitement must understand that insistence for any new ideology can prove suicidal. Consider this, thousands of schools of thoughts have emerged in the known history of mankind. Some emerged in the name of religion, some on race and some in the name of self-interest. But all such ideologies have met with premature death because they did not have place for the views of others. So many babas had floated their ideologies but none survived. Yes, the thoughts that accommodated other ideas, ideologies were recorded in golden letters on the pages of history.
I would like to give the example of the ideologies of Buddha, Mahavira, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar which still are alive and are guiding us. Gautama Buddha did not call anybody wrong nor Mahavira called anybody wrong. Their ideologies teach those in the wrong to take the right path. Their ideologies were for humanity. There was no insistence in their thoughts. It is the result of the prevalence of ideas that the world still pays tribute to them.
Now let’s have a look at the most powerful thinking of the modern age. It is the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. Do we know that many schools of thoughts are involved in Gandhi’s ideology? While studying in England, Gandhi read Gita translated by Sir Edwin Arnold. Gita’s approach made him karmayogi. Apart from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, he studied a lot of books on Jainism and Buddhism. It is this study that strengthened his faith in truth, non-violence and renunciation.
Christian scripture the New Testament and Sermon on the Mount also influenced Gandhi’s ideas. He got the wisdom of non-violent resistance from Jesus’ words- “Forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” The three great philosophers John Ruskin, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau and Tolstoy profoundly influenced him and Gandhiji took inspiration from Thoreau for his civil disobedience. He took inspiration from John Ruskin’s book and learned to respect manual labor and considered that economic system ideal as best serves everyone’s interests. He accepted Tolstoy’s thinking that the Kingdom of God is within us. This sentence made him resolute in his faith towards theism.
Many elements are involved in the ideology of Gandhiji. That is to say, it is the inclusion of ideas from any ideology. If you analyse the word ideology, you find that it is made of two words ‘idea’ and ‘stream’: The flow of ideas. It is like a flowing river. Ganga originates from the Himalayas, its stream is not as broad as it seems in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or West Bengal.
Apparently during its long and meandering journey, the Ganges absorbs many small rivers along the way. Ganga is inclusive. It meets every other river and when it gets in the ocean, it becomes vast. If you go to Amarkantak, you only see a small stream of water flowing from a reservoir in the name of Narmada, but as the river approaches the state of Gujarat Narmada becomes extremely broad. Obviously this happens because of the inclusion of other rivers. If other rivers were not to be included, how will these rivers grow? The same analogy applies to ideas. Ideas will become ideology only when you consider and respect the views of others.
Before I conclude…
‘The Demographic Future’, a book by the American political economist Nicholas Eberstadt has hit the stands. Nicholas has in the book said that by 2030 more than a quarter of men in China over the age of 30 will be bachelors. The other news is that by 2020 the number of singles in China will exceed three crores. Indeed, before 2015 there was one-child policy in China. Everyone wanted a son and this has upset the sex ratio. Now there are just 100 girls only for 126 boys. Rural youths have no girls to marry . In many villages, 40 percent of men are bachelors. Even if this is the problem of China, we must also be worried. If we do not change the attitude towards girls and continue to crave for sons, how long will it take for the situation to deteriorate?