To what degree are tolerance and freedom of expression in India endangered? Not a day passes without reports in newspapers about protests of concerned Indians who worry about the state of human rights and the secular order in the world’s biggest democracy.
At the forefront of the protest movement are members of the country’s vast intellectual elite. Anxiety about a sneaking erosion of civil liberties is the unifying call of this movement, which thus far seems uncoordinated and without a leader.
In a gesture of public protest, more than 40 prominent Indian writers recently gave back their literary awards. In addition, in an open letter to the country’s president, a group of eminent scientists appealed for an end to “the spread of communal hatred and polarization.”
They also wrote that India today “is like a nuclear bomb close to criticality (which) can explode any time and drive the nation into utter chaos.”