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During the dark days of the Raj many predicted that the idea of India would eventually fail and the divisions of caste, religion and race would come to define the subcontinent. The 75 years of independent India have proved these doomsayers utterly wrong. Instead of the divisions, the peaceful co-existence of its various ethnic and cultural groups has come to define the Indian nation. Hence it is naturally a matter of grave concern that much of the national and international media in their coverage of India have been featuring alarming headlines about the rise of intolerance. Gruesome stories about communal violence and mob lynchings appear to have become commonplace.

Many of India’s prominent artists and academics, along with veteran bureaucrats and opposition politicians have felt compelled to draft public letters, deliver emotional parliamentary speeches and file writ petitions in the Supreme Court, seeking urgent action to check this disturbing trend. Even foreign leaders such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris have pushed diplomatic boundaries to remind India of its commitment to democracy and the strength it derives from being inclusive.

Can all of this be simply an overreaction or is it a sinister conspiracy to defame India? Or worse, is it true? Is India seeing a rise in hate?

If indeed true, the alarm bells must be heeded. Hate, if allowed to fester for too long, can tear the social fabric of any society. Moreover, experts point out that "rising intolerance, hate crimes and moral policing can seriously damage the economic growth of the nation." That’s a risk India, which still needs to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty, cannot afford to take. The doctrine of hate cannot be allowed to reverse India's upward trajectory.

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