Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday said acceptance is the best recipe for a multi-religion, multi-cultural, multi-party and pluralist democracy like India.
From Hinduism to liberal arts studies and from fiction to how people getting offended has become the biggest human rights issue, Mr Tharoor spoke on an array of topics at the Alliance University's literary festival in Bengaluru.
Talking about how he grew up in a time when religion was one's private business and there was no need to talk about it, the former Union minister said he wrote about it in his book "India: From Midnight to the Millennium" in a reaction to the Babri masjid demolition.
"After I came back to India and saw what the BJP and its assorted members of the (Sangh) Parivar were doing to use my precious faith as a political instrument for their own advancement, I started to get troubled and angry...The book 'Why am I a Hindu' is a political reiteration of my beliefs as well as a repudiation of Hindutva, the political doctrine which I believe is a profound betrayal of Hinduism. My Hinduism has come from extensive readings," Mr Tharoor said.
Referring to tolerance as a patronising idea, he said it means that one will magnanimously indulge the other in their right to be wrong.
"...but acceptance means saying, 'I believe I have the truth and you believe you have the truth. I will respect your truth. You please respect my truth'. That is the best recipe for a multi-religion, multi-cultural and multi-party democracy, and a pluralist democracy like ours and that philosophy of acceptance is being betrayed and is also a betrayal of what Swami Vivekananda has taught us," he added.
Mr Tharoor, who had triggered a row with his tweet in which he said he would travel "cattle class" in solidarity with all our "holy cows" when he was the external affairs minister in the UPA government, said even Congress chief ministers were asking for his resignation at that time and it was not "pleasant".
Talking about the current situation, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said he feels that the "biggest human right has become the right to be offended".
He also said liberal arts teach one to think and look at the world with its various incertitude.
"The scientific disciplines essentially deal with a world of certitude. Everything is black and white, whereas the real world is one where incertitude reigns. Liberal arts teach you how the world really is. It is messy, it is complicated, it is nuanced and it expands your horizons and it takes you to the binaries of science and technology. It takes you into a world which is much more like our real world," Mr Tharoor said.
The Alliance University has started the School of Liberal Arts this year. The admissions to the school will be starting in July.
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