Tolerating Intolerance

Amidst the whirlpool of news over the past few days, two outspoken women stood out. One in life, and the other, in death. Kangana Ranaut & Gauri Lankesh.

A disclaimer might be prudent here – I am not affiliated to either of them. Being a fairly regular article-forager on Facebook, I did happen to read a few articles by Ms Lankesh & thought that they were concise and well-researched. I would see Ms Ranaut disinterestedly in magazines & in movie trailers, but it was the wide-eyed Rani that got me to watch her subsequent films. I think that she’s a fantastic actress.

Comparing these two women would do them absolute injustice and would cause me to lose my own dignity, even as an amateur writer. This article therefore, isn’t designed for comparison, but for thought.

Ms Lankesh was shot brutally outside her house a little more than 24 hours ago by unknown assailants. Many believe that Ms Lankesh, described as ‘ courageous’, ‘honest’ & ‘truthful’, was assassinated for openly criticizing the government & its policies. All this reminds me of a dialogue in the acclaimed movie ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ in which one of the protagonists audaciously asks authorities during an anti-jean rally at college “..aap humari azaadi se itna darte kyun hai?”. Why, indeed? Why are we not allowed to question the very people we elect?

The three bullets may have silenced Ms Lankesh’s auricular voice, but her thoughts echo in the form of various protests throughout the country.

Ms Ranaut has always been in the eye of the controversy storm, be it about her relationships, her rumoured catfights or her stance on nepotism. A recent appearance on Aap Ki Adaalat (or maybe Rajeev Masand’s show) created further furore as Ms Ranaut gutsily attacked the Roshans to thunderous applause. Now, to be fair, nobody really knows what the whole Hrithik-Kangana spat is about, but everybody is quite interested in it, and who better to clear the air than Kangana herself?  Even if one were to assume that Ms Ranaut has been spinning a yarn for her benefit, one cant help but appreciate her gumption. Not only is she candidly addressing this issue, but she is also opening herself up for censure & maybe a strategic attack from the opposing party.

Expressing an opinion is as important as having an opinion, and behind every form of expression lies a bit of nerve. It takes courage for one to go against the tide and rise up against persons in position of power, especially when one is a self-made person. Whether one deems Ms Ranaut’s opinion to be right or wrong, she will always be known as the woman who didn’t hesitate to tell people exactly what she felt about them, on camera or off it.

There is one crucial word that binds both these women’s cases – intolerance. For Ms Lankesh, intolerance towards her anti-government, anti-Hindutva writings & Ms Ranaut for her candour. One would have thought that years of seemingly co-existing with people from various communities & regions would have taught us some tolerance, but clearly, that isn’t the case. It is natural to have a difference of opinion and discuss such differences, but it is improper to stifle someone’s opinion just because it differs from yours.  It is easier to shoot or defame somebody, but extremely difficult to be tolerant towards somebody’s opinions & their ideal of truth. I know we all like to take the easy way out, but maybe it’s time for us to seriously consider the difficult way?


  1. Hello Mrunal, very nicely and beautifully you have chosen words to describe those two strong women, am surprised while reading because everyone knows what is what and Iam sure whoever got to know the case of Ms.Lankesh especially I felt the way you have described, but you took a step forward and thought to express them with your magical words. Well done good going.. God bless you.

  2. Thank you so much for reading this blog & your kind words.

  3. Well articulated and thought provoking article, Mrinal. Keep it up. While I congratulate you for your forthrightness, I differ with the the views you expressed, particularly on the death of Mrs. Gauri Lankesh.


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