Rising intolerance has been decried by dozens of artists, intellectuals and writers with many of them returning their awards in recent weeks. The raging debate saw support during a brainstorming session at the fifth annual HT Youth Forum in Chandigarh on Monday night when actor Sonam Kapoor made an emphatic statement against acts of intolerance.
“The idea of politics and religion coming in the way of artistic expression is completely unacceptable in our country. As artists and filmmakers, it is absolutely relevant to have a voice. We live in a democracy. And, it is a secular country,” Sonam Kapoor said at the Top 30 Under 30 held by Hindustan Times to honour young prodigies. She said anything that breeds hatred or is divisive, whether it is politics or religion or social issues is harmful to the human race in general.
Moderated by HT national editor, entertainment and lifestyle, Sonal Kalra, the hour-long, lively debate on “My idea of India: Is it the best time to be young” saw Sonam Kapoor, social activist Kiran Bedi, bestselling author Amish Tripathi, BJP MP Anurag Thakur and actor Jimmy Shergill candidly expressing their views on a raft of issues, including misogyny, misuse of social media and the dirty business of politics.
Anurag Thakur, predictably, termed the intolerance debate as a “sponsored campaign”. The BJP MP said if 30-40 of the 6,000 awardees raise a concern, you can debate but you cannot use it to derail the government attempts and initatives to give a boost to economy.
More intolerance on gender: Amish
Amish Tripathi disagreed with intellectuals and writers who have returned their awards to protest rising intolerance. The celebrated writer said if you want to pass judgment on a country of 125 crore people, it must be backed by data rather than a few incidents. “Though there have been horrendous incidents, but we forget the scale of our country. If you look at numbers, we are not an intolerant society on a religious basis, but hugely intolerant on gender basis. When it comes to misogyny, the situation is horrific,” he said.
Kiran Bedi wondered if there is anyone raising a voice for women. Giving the example of Bihar where women came out in big numbers to vote for the victorious alliance in the recent assembly elections, she said there are only two women in the 28-strong Cabinet. “Did any TV channel, newspaper or anyone on Twitter speak against it? No,” she said. Sonam Kapoor also said there is a lot of misogyny and chauvinism in every industry. “I have faced it. In my industry, you are always reminded you are a woman. But there is change happening,” she said.