India should find itself lucky to see fervent debates on any hot button. For, not amassing opinions from mass is a sign of intolerance.

A headline in a leading newspaper today is being lapped up by all those people in a hurry who don’t have time to wait for decisions to be implemented even though these decisions affect them directly.

Comparing the government’s reaction to control the high level of pollution in Delhi and China the headline says, “Delhi debates, Beijing acts to check air pollution.

 Obviously this refers to the proposal of Delhi Chief MinisterArvind Kejriwal to use odd and even numbered cars entering Delhi on alternate days which aims to effectively reduce the number of private vehicles in the most polluted city of the world by half.

delhi even odd lead Shunning Debate   A Sign Of Intolerance

Ever since the day this revolutionary proposal was announced there have been animated discussions and debates and even jokes have started circulating on the social media on how the ingenious people of this country would find a jugaad to beat it.

Beijing, on the other hand quietly announced a Red Alert and introduced the odd even car system for three days, closure of contraction sites and factories and said that children in schools would not be allowed to participate in outdoor activities till the time the level of pollution came down drastically. No questions asked.

As a journalist I can imagine the complements  the bright young mind who thought of this brilliant headline today must be getting.

But these bright young minds to me, are the most impatient with the grind of a democratic process in this country without realizing that it is this spirit of debate and discussion that brings out some of the brightest sparks and ideas that change the world.

china odd even lead Shunning Debate   A Sign Of Intolerance

Moreover, there can be no comparison between China and India even though the two countries are clubbed together most of the time,  for the good the bad and the ugly. China has an autocratic system of governance where the citizens have to take permission from the government even if  they want to have two children. They finally got it after probably 35 years of a one-child norm.

one child policy Shunning Debate   A Sign Of Intolerance

Someone tried that here too, using coercive measures to curb the birth rate of children, taking advantage of the emergency, but the people of the county threw him in the dustbins of history when they got their chance.

 India has a federal system of governance where most of the states to not share the ideology or vision of the Centre. In this multiplicity of authorities such debates to arrive at a consensus are the essences of governance.

Democracy survives in this country with all its pitfalls due to this spirit of accommodation and mutual respect for the opinions of the dissenters.

Those who despise this delay, as the journo giving the headline in question appears to be, are only exhibiting shades of their intolerance with the system which has given them this chance to work and write according to their choice.

 If this appears like preaching, just have a look around your friendly neighborhood countries to see what a mess they could have been in if there was no debate.

By Amitabh Srivastava

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