"Intolerance is a politicized term which suits everyone including media, ratings, etc": Shobhaa De

GOA: “India is hugely tolerant. Tolerance and intolerance are very loaded words. India is highly tolerant because we tolerate dirt and tolerant corruption. We are fine about rapes, violence against men, women and children, cold blooded daylight murders, etc. We all consider holy frauds, God frauds, women in saffron, women not in saffron, all of them perpetuating hate in the country.”

Coming from an established writer, columnist, opinion shaper and social commentator Shobhaa De at the first session of Day 2 at Goafest, the words were no surprise.

And reiterating this, the person who is considered an authority on popular culture spoke about being outspoken in an intolerant world.

She said the young persons in the country carry messages strongly and will do what they think is correct. “We have forgotten defining moments. I think India has some short memory issues”.

“Intolerance is a politicized term which suits everyone including media, ratings, etc”. De noted that every person should look ahead of things in his or her own way rather than voicing anyone else’s opinion.

In a room full of stalwarts from media, advertising and marketing industry, she praised ad agencies and termed them as ‘game changers’ for positioning women as well as the nation in a totally different way.

De spoke about how ads can go wrong at times with their content. She mentioned about a famous fairness cream and how she opposes the entire idea behind that ad though she appreciates the ad campaign.

In today’s world, we come across many people who speak their mind out without worrying about the end result. But she referred to how being outspoken gets people in a lot of trouble because challenging a point of view that is not in consonance with theirs is bad. She condemned India's 'seemingly' favourite line for young girls 'adjust kar le beta'.

De boldly spoke of how accommodating views that are perpetrating and are intrinsically ugly are wrong. “Noone should ever adjust to justice. A person should confront the unfair event, speak up about it, may be intervene and help. Being outspoken is not a bad thing. It requires moral courage. As a citizen of this democracy, you should exercise this or else you will be dead; intellectually, morally and physically”.

When asked whether intolerance is a new phenomena or a social media driving awareness, she pointed out that it is not a new phenomena which the generation has invented. De mentioned referred to the positives and negatives of social media and explained how a message can be misinterpreted because of the language used.

“I tweet and therefore I am. If you don’t tweet you are not there. You can’t say that I will shut these platforms. You have to deal with them.”

Asked about the importance of free speech, De said: “It is not as terrible as the media wants it to be. We live in an augmented, opinionated, volatile and articulated country. But nothing can keep us down. Free speech is ingrained in every Indian and the advertising community is brilliant in capturing the zeitgeist. “

She also referred ti her own observation about how there is a tremendous change in portrayal of women and senior citizens in ads. “The senior citizens are no longer 'becharas'; housewives have found a voice. These are subliminal messages, but they go a long way in influencing mindsets."

On gender neutrality, she said society is structured and is weighed against women.

With no regrets, De related how her journey has been and always anticipates what would wait for her at the end. “My life is like a river finding its own coast. Not knowing what is at the end always drives me further”, she said..


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