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On Eyes, Teeth & Claws

History has repeatedly narrated facts of one particular group or race that bent on establishing its supremacy over others. While it registered victories in its quest, others were vanquished. These incidents saw one culture surrendering itself to another, and forming a mixed culture… right from the ancient times, India had shown its character of tolerance and had emerged as a Nation after going through the process of adoption and exclusion!
Those, who had shown tolerance in British India, basically bowed down to the colonial power and its strength. Even, those, who had left their homeland during the colonial rule, had shown a strange kind of tolerance! Apart from communal riots, partition (of the Indian Subcontinent) and refugee crisis, tolerance remained a part of the Indian history. It is a fact that there has always been a difference between knowledge and action. Therefore, the domestic, social and religious tolerances have somewhat weaned, mainly because of the complexity of time.

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In Patriarchal or Matriarchal societies, members used to follow certain rules, regulations and norms. In both cases, there was certainly a governance of affection. However, members of the society did not get punished for disrespecting the rules…
It must have been necessary to maintain the existing social order. People tried to cross the boundaries (of discipline) either for romantic affairs or for thirst for power. Many accepted the transition of the society for humanitarian reasons. The women show tolerance in Patriarchal societies, as the Head of the Family is the person to make a final decision. Like the Head of the Family, landlords, kings, heads of the community used to maintain their hegemony through oppression. On the other hand, the common people (especially women) practise tolerance in order to survive in a Patriarchal society. Some protesters had to sacrifice their lives… but, that was not because they were less tolerant… they had to pay the price for waging a war against the existing system!


In 1995, UNESCO declared November 16 as the ‘International Day for Tolerance‘ to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. Since then, the Global Community has marked this day every year. Still, various tolerance-related issues exist in many countries. All the fair skinned are yet to accept the coloured skinned people, thus, encouraging the racial discrimination. In many (Developing) Nations, religious intolerance has become an obstacle to the progress. A Liberal mindset is a prerequisite of modern civilisation. A civilised culture helps people realise the essence of ‘We‘ through the feeling of ‘I‘. In the Indian Subcontinent where Lord Buddha and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi were born, tolerance had always been an integral part of the society. Unfortunately, the scenario has changed in recent times.
The State should focus on tolerance right from the elementary level of education in an attempt to ensure global peace. Then, we would not need to organise seminars to sensitise people about tolerance. Unity in diversity is a part of the traditional Indian culture, and it is based on the philosophy of tolerance. Ashoka the Great – the Indian Emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled over almost all of the Indian Subcontinent, stretching from present-day Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the east, from BCE 268 to BCE 232 – promoted the message of tolerance across ancient Asia after waging the destructive Kalinga War that reportedly directly resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and 150,000 deportations. He, even, imposed a ban on the slaughter of animals! This realisation is the identity of humanity…


The usage of cell phones, cable TVs and technologically advanced home appliances make us think that we can change everything only by pressing a button. No, we cannot change the society this way. To accept changes, one needs to show tolerance! Even if one cannot become tolerant overnight, s/he should spread the message of tolerance, love, friendship and brotherhood for the sake of the future generations… Mahatma Gandhi rightly said: “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Cover image: Ms Udita Chatterjee

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