Two words which the American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined – Truthiness and Wikiality -are very appropriate to the political discourse in India.
Truthiness means a claim which feels right without regard to facts. And Wikiality means, in the words of Colbert himself, a concept that together we can create a reality that we agree on. Any user could change any entry on Wikipedia and if enough users agree it becomes true.
The constant refrain today is:”India is intolerant and discriminates against minorities.” Considering the close proximity in time to the incidents which provoke such comments the allegation may not feel wrong but that does not mean it is true. The comment only has truthiness to it without being the truth. This is because of the bias implicit in the comment. I refer to “confirmation bias” – seeking information that confirms one’s belief without paying as much attention to alternative possibilities which may be relevant for a complete assessment. Thus Muzaffarnagar, Dadri, Hyderabad dominate discourse not Kashmiri Pandits, Malda, nor attack on students singing Vande Matram, nor the Kawarias injured for taking Lord Shiva’s name while passing through a Muslim locality nor even the poor dog who was hanged to mark the death anniversary of an RSS functionary.
This happens because of Wikiality. Gather people and make their consensus the reality. Repeated mentioning of one set of wrongs is meant suggest it exhausts the whole list of wrongs and then conclude these are the only wrongs in the country. So a reality which is created is actually an invented lie. And in this reality death of Yakub Memon is more potent than the life of T.J.Joseph who had his hand chopped off by members of Popular Front of India for allegedly insulting the Prophet nor even the lives of the 16 Hindu leaders who were killed in 18 months in Tamil Nadu.
Any kind of crime is bad. No intolerance is acceptable. But to unperson some and exclude them altogether from consideration recognising only a category of incidents and individuals as worthy of attention is creating new Dalits in national discourse, the new Pariahs of modern India.