Your religious proclivities and orientation and those of your family members were nobody else’s concern till you made that highly insidious speech on ‘Tolerance’ a couple of days ago and set stage for a discussion. I believe you are a Muslim, your wife an atheist and your child is growing up, in all probability, in a religious vacuum. My belief is based on information available on the public domain. I am subject to correction. What is it that unites the three of you as a family? Love and understanding or ‘Tolerance’?

India is home to millions of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and people of so many other religious groupings and communities, agnostics and atheists. Without prejudice to their beliefs and practices, what should unite them all as people of this great country of ours? A healthy respect based on universal love and understanding toward one another or ‘tolerance’?

What is this talk of ‘tolerance’, anyway? It is something like if you kill an animal and eat its meat which I don’t approve of but still keep quiet, you would call me tolerant; if, on the contrary, I say “No”, you would call me ‘intolerant’. Right? When one is forbidden from eating a horse or dog in the US or Europe and pork in certain other countries by the law and local customs, one meekly accepts it. Yet why should the same person necessarily want to eat beef, much to the consternation and angst of Hindus who worship the cow as their own mother, in the only country in the world which they can call their own? Now, who is tolerant here – the Hindus who call for prohibition of cow slaughter in no country other than their own, or those who insist on their ‘right’ to eat whatever they want, including beef, despite the law, local customs and sentiments of the majority community people?

Hinduism is the most ancient living religion in the world. If there are superstitious beliefs and practices found in that religion, of what concern is it to anybody else except the Hindus themselves?  Instead of leaving the matter to the Hindus to tide over their own affairs, why make a movie (PK7), ridiculing Hindu deities, god men etc without giving a thought to the feelings and susceptibilities of the targeted community, especially when you hold your tongue when it comes to discussing your own religion? The lucre of money and fame and fear of threat to your own life? Now, who is tolerant here – Hindus who don’t make movies to ridicule other religions or the ones who flagrantly ridicule in their films Hinduism and its ways?

You had referred to the killings of some ‘rationalist’ writers in one corner of the country and the killing of a man “over beef” in another and wove around a pattern of “intolerance”. You were evidently appalled over Prime Minister Modi’s ‘deafening silence’ over the killings and the ‘failure’ of his government to prevent the killings. If Mr.Modi and the government that he leads deserve flak over the killings, don’t they deserve tons of credit for the safety and security in which millions of our countrymen, including rationalist thinkers and writers, members of non-Hindu communities, agnostics and atheists, live and prosper by the day? When was the last time, Mr. Khan, that all of us came together to pass a vote of thanks to Prime Minister Modi and his government for making it possible for us to live in peace and pursue our belief, profession and way of life? Could it be because the role of the Priest Minister and his government in keeping the country together in relative peace, safety and security is taken for granted like that of our Armed Forces in times of relative peace? Who is intolerant here, Mr. Khan?

Lastly, yours is a rags to riches story. You made your fame and fortune and raised a family in this country. What made it all possible for you? Was it not the climate of tolerance and love and affection of your fans, cutting across the religious divide, that gave you the break and enabled you to prove your talent and mettle as a ‘thinking man’s actor?’ So why the urge to send across a message, divisive in nature, that would split your fans and well wishers?

Instead of calling for increased levels of tolerance, should we all not be promoting a healthy respect among different communities? Why don’t you work toward that end and set an example to your fans and others? Maybe you could even start a movement. But, please take note, there are no millions to be made here, only a glorious opportunity to forge unity among millions of right thinking people. Think and reflect, Mr. Khan, even if it hurts. It cannot hurt more than the hurt that your speech has caused. You must prove to one and all that you are an achiever, not a quitter.

 –  A fan who does not want to see you go “out”.



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Exhorted by well meaning officers to write copious despatches and sumptuous (euphemism for voluminous) reports, Kalpatraman seldom had time to read what he wrote during his 37 years of sojourn to exotic locales like Kyrgyzstan, Syria and Ukraine, idyllic and picture perfect places in Switzerland, culturally rich Bangladesh and the wild-yet-enriching UK, (besides a very rewarding time in Delhi), all in the service of the nation as a member of Indian Foreign Service. Nor did he expect his works of art to make it to the top of the charts of best sellers. That was all for later. And now is the later! Writing is a passion which he allows himself to indulge in, usually while taking a break from reading. What does he write about? Nothing or nobody is too big or too small nor any happening too sacrosanct or too insignificant to write about. Indian and international politics, philosophy and Spiritual matters, Poetry, and any topic which tickles the funny bone of or is likely to arouse the curiosity of the reader is what he considers grist for his writing. Sarcasm, lampooning and humour are his forte. Why don't you discover more of him yourself? Just read his works. That's all it takes. A word of caution, though. Be very prepared to be surprised!