Tharoor rallies against competitive intolerance

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 13:30 hrs

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) Shashi Tharoor Monday said a worrying development last year was "the growth of competitive intolerance" and that groups were promoting their interest in every level of culture.

Addressing the opening of the World Book Fair in the capital, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Tharoor said: "We don't depend on groups to tell us what we should read." He said that books as a tool of free expression and cultural symbol upheld the values of a secular society.

Tharoor has been pitching for freedom of expression since the Jaipur Literature Festival Jan 24-28.

The call to arrest social commentator Ashis Nandy for his remarks about corruption among Dalits at a literary discourse was "unnecessary" but there was legitimate ground for "disagreeing with what he had said", Tharoor told the media in an interview this week.

He said the challenge for society was to "find the right balance that leans more towards freedom".

Last week, at the Kolkata Literary Meet, the minister pointed to a growing trend of an era "when segments of society claimed the right to be offended and... it is for the rest of us to pay attention to their sense of offence".

"This cuts across political lines... As a writer, I have to say that one great trend of our civilisation has been the ability to watch culture evolve through the expression of heretical views," the minister had said.

Tharoor, the author of "Pax Indica" about India's role in a new world, believes that different groups get upset at different times at different things, but if they would only accept that the constitution grants them the right to protest peacefully, they can have dharnas, they can hold placards, they can boycott cinema theatres but they have no right to interfere in other people's enjoyment.

A votary of pluralism and secular national outlook, Tharoor had been advocating peace with Pakistan as well to enable both nations to focus on "development and social transformation".

At the Jaipur Literature Festival, he said "strategic peace should be the objective between the two nations".

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