'Debate on intolerance overshadowing drought'

Psephologist Yogendra Yadav on Saturday, asserted that debates on intolerance had gained undue preference over drought in the recent past, ignoring the pathetic condition of the affected communities.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Expression; Challenges and Possibilities’, organised as part of ‘Bahuroopi-2016’, the national theatre festival at Rangayana here, Yadav said, “If you look at television, media and debates, drought doesn’t reflect in it. It is as if Ethiopia and Nigeria witnessing drought.”

Yadav reasoned, “39 per cent (50 crore) of the population is hit by drought, suffice to say a majority of Indians have lived amid drought conditions. Bundelkhand, divided between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh is the worst hit and yet Delhi reacts as if they are 5,000 km away,” in an oblique reference to the Central government.

Yadav further said that he was involved in drought campaign as part of his Swaraj Abhiyaan that was launched in Yadgir on Gandhi Jayanti day and concluded in Haryana.

“The debate on intolerance is also odd, as innocent people are being forced to answer to it. Such is the severity that people are held by their collars to make them believe that my country is tolerant,” he said.

Earlier, Yadav who elaborated on the relationship among theatre, truth and politics, said, they make for an odd combination. “The first impression about theatre is entertainment and aesthetic experience, while truth is something else and politics has nothing to do with truth. But, theatre, in the larger sense, is a public dialogue, making for a powerful site, with truth produced in conversation.”

Freedom of dissent

Former High Court judge H Nagamohan Das said, “There should be tolerance towards dissent too, as freedom of speech also includes freedom of criticism.”

Substantiating his assertion, Das referred to the previous court judgments, including the one delivered by himself on fundamental rights. However, he regretted, “We are losing what we have achieved in the last 60 years. With independence, the country achieved freedom of expression too, unlike the privilege enjoyed by certain class of people in other countries.”

Saying that there should be equal scope for healthy and constructive criticism, Das said, there should also be freedom to question traditionalism.

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