Shaw, Meghnad Desai Join Business Leaders to Voice Concern Over Intolerance

New Delhi
Shaw, Meghnad Desai Join Business Leaders to Voice Concern Over Intolerance

Echoing Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy's concerns over 'growing intolerance', another business leader Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and economist Lord Meghnad Desai today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi must act quickly to correct India's image to prevent any threat to foreign investments.

Stating that she feels "very sad" about the current environment in the country, Shaw said it "creates a kind of concern about investing in country."

"Let us face it, investors want a sort of harmonious kind of environment to invest in. If they feel there is turmoil, there is unrest, that their investments are not safe, that's what Moody's is talking about... Therefore it is important that government actually act fast and corrects this image," she said.

"I think we are a country that have always celebrated diversity and unity in diversity. We have always celebrated our democracy as a very vibrant democracy, as a very tolerant society. And I think we must uphold all these values. I think that's what all of us are talking about," said the Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited.

Lord Meghnad Desai said the country is experiencing a total change in political ideology of the government.

"Now the problem is, it is actually different ideology or it is actually intolerance? The murders of rationalists have nothing to do with BJP because they happened before BJP came to power.

"I think what is true is that the tone of at least the junior Ministers and MPs of BJP is very openly hostile to Muslims... It's basically the anti-Muslim tone of some of the BJP Ministers and MPs which actually for a lot of people is wrong and it is time that the leaders of BJP said so openly and clearly (on it)," he said.

Murthy had lamented that there is considerable fear in the minds of minorities in India and wanted governments to bring back the sense of confidence in them.

Joining the debate on growing intolerance, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had yesterday said that tolerance and mutual respect was necessary to improve the environment for ideas and physical harm or verbal contempt for any particular group should not be allowed.

Against the backdrop of growing intolerance in the wake of Dadri lynching and subsequent acts of violence, he also said protection of right to question and challenge was essential for India to grow.

Stating that like Murthy she was apolitical, Shaw said "We are only concerned with what's happening all across the country, not in any one part of the country. I don't think we should look at it as an isolated incident or as a stray incident."

"So obviously whether it is perception, whether it is hyped up, we need to correct it. I think the government also needs to make sure that we correct this perception, that very strong signals are sent to the world at large that it is not as bad as it is made out to be," she said.

It is important to correct all the kind of concerns that are expressed, she said, adding "it is not a figment of our imagination, this is something thats coming out of discussions with people."

Shaw said a blind eye to any of these incidents cannot be turned as when the government in Bangladesh ignored one writer's killing, now a dozen writers and publishers have been killed and it has spurn out of control. "Government is not able to do anything about it."

"All government, the States and Centre, must make sure that we focus on communal harmony, thats what is all about because otherwise it will ruin our perception," she said.

Desai, however, added there wasn't any reduction of freedom of expression or opinion because it is fact that everybody is going around complaining, writing things, which means there is a lot of expression.

"Well people disagree with the government and I think in a democracy everybody has right to disagree with the government," he said.

Desai said not all incidents of intolerance are due to the BJP government. "It should not appear that all incidents that happen in India are all entirely related to BJP. That I think is a wrong impression. Not all incidents of intolerance are due to the BJP Government.

"Muslims have been murdered in India before BJP came to power and Dalits have been burnt. It's nothing new. We should protest about it, but we should say that intolerance is not just government related," he said.

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