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It was International Day of Tolerance two days ago and it took me a long while to bring my blood pressure back to normal by taking deep breaths and meditation.

I read somewhere that when something agitates you, one should take a deep breath, hold your breath, count to 10, and then exhale, and do that a couple of times.

If that fails, sit cross-legged on your bed, close your eyes, and imagine you are swimming in an infinity pool, but one should be careful not to fall out into the gorge or from a residential tower or wherever you are imagining the pool is.

I believe this Day was initiated in 1995 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Gandhi, the international icon and ultimate human of non-violence.


The world is a stressful place as it is, and then Unesco goes and creates a Day of Tolerance.

Unesco happens to be an UN agency that is responsible for “bringing about peace, social justice and promoting human rights through international cooperation in education, science and culture”.

If I was working for such an agency in these particularly bleak times, I too would not know what to do and how to spend my time from nine to five and would come up such a thing as this Day.

The logo for the Day is a paper cut-out of people of various shades and colour standing in a circle and joyfully (hopefully) holding hands, or it could be hands of various colours, in a circle.

I believe this Day was initiated in 1995 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Gandhi, the international icon and ultimate human of non-violence.

Do not laugh, but it is hoped that countries around the globe will bring about “laws for equality and basic human rights for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence”.

It is going to be a tough call because people today believe they are right, no matter if they are wrong. Take for instance politicians and heads of government who believe they have the people’s mandate to do whatever they wish, when in fact it is the opposite.

Gross National Happiness

Earlier this year, one Indian state decided that it should cheer people up and planned to set up a Ministry of Happiness. Instead of measuring the Gross Domestic Product, it invented another index called the Gross National Happiness that would measure the well-being of people in terms of culture, governance, health, spirituality, balanced use of time and harmony with the environment.

There was a picture with that news and it showed people jumping up in the air, maybe to denote that people are finally jumping with joy.

I am not sure what happened after the plan was announced. Maybe they could not find a happy-looking minister or a smiling bureaucrat to head it.

It is said that as one grows older, one becomes saner, wiser and more relaxed, and have a silly smile on your face all the time, believing that all is right with the world.

For many oldies the day would usually start with reading the newspaper and getting all upset about the state of affairs in the country and the world. In the earlier times the public had no say in the matter on how the politicians and the municipal officers were running things.

more off the cuff

Editors would allow only some sort of a participation and discourse through a platform called, Letters to the Editor, where you could vent and fume, but usually after a couple of weeks later after the event that irritated you, had occurred.

Today, my day starts with getting blue in the face after reading people’s thoughts and abuses on the so-called Social Media.

Anyway, on the Day of Tolerance one is supposed to listen to your neighbours who have different viewpoints and read about different cultures and nationalities.

— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi