O tempora! O mores!

The Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust has two recent books that document the difficult times we live in. By now "May you live in interesting times" has become a commonplace Chinese curse of doubtful origin, and the difficulty of being good in the present time is only too well known. 

In some ways India is a very tolerant country: one has only to drive on our city roads to learn that. All sorts of aberrant traffic behaviour is tolerated, from jaywalkers, to people driving on the wrong side (and a few occasionally on the right side as well), not to mention the sheer diversity of numbers of different types of vehicles (some seventeen are legal at last count) that contribute to the organized pandemonium that characterises our roads and streets. Or our legendary indulgence of children (who should be seen and heard at all times). Or of public nuisance... The list is a long one.

But in equally important ways, India is not a tolerant country no matter how one disguises it. And never has been: public intolerance isn't a particularly new characteristic, its just that we did not talk much about it, not that we are being either analytic or completely honest about the levels of intolerance even now...  Particularly when it comes to the three F's - faith, food, and fornication -  intolerance raises its ugly head. Who we worship, who we love, and what we eat... This is largely a personal matter and should be one's own business by and large, though there are limits of public decency that should not be crossed

The two books from Sahmat are on just these issues. In Dark Times: Voices against intolerance  (Rs 150, ISBN: 9789380536453) and The Republic of Reason: Words They Could Not Kill, and as the cover says, these are Selected writings of Dabholkar, Pansare, and Kalburgi (Rs 120, 120 pages, ISBN: 9789380536415).