Moral Policing in India

(Posted on Wednesday, December 28, 2005 8:10 PM)

This is my first blog entry here…so..here begins..

Well…firstly..I would like to welcome all of those..who by some quirk stroke of fate or ill-fate (depending on ones views) landed up to read my blog….

In my first blog..I would like to reflect on few of the news items I read recently from India…and it involves a taliban like “moral policing”.

Meerut…”operation romeo(majnu)”..A few innocent couples are picked up by the police for sitting togeather in a park..and beaten repeatedly in front of camera.

Luckily.. right actions were taken..protests held….issue raised in parliament..the police suspended.

So it seems everything was sorted out as it should be in a democratic country .

Or was it? or does the problem run deeper?

Lets take a trip down memory lane..but in the recent past.

1. A minor is raped by a policeman in the metropolitan city of  Mumbai. The policeman is apprehended (and somehow..it seems..is out on bail now). But…there is a political organisation (I think many would know which one)…which comes out speaking jargon about the kind of dresses females should wear. And by some unknown string of logic…connecting the dresses worn to the criminal mentality.

2. Anna University in Madras..recently banned the wearing of t-shirts and jeans by girls saying that it distracts studies. hmm..only of the queer mind..I think. (The VC should really get himself examined)

3. Khushboo and Sania Mirza are attacked by political organisations across the spectrum for speaking about safe sex publicly. Amazing…considering we have the second largest Aids population.

4. A hotel is raided in Chennai because of couples dancing togeather. hmm..Marriages may be next..beware (will they arrest the bride and groom for holding hands).

5. Bar Dancers are banned in Mumbai.

All the above may seem unconnected to each other but if we examine it close..we see the underlying “Moral Policing” involved. There are many such incidents in the recent past involving many states.

So..why is it that in recent times this “Moral Policing” is on the rise?

Why is it that in this age..where the late Kalpana Chawla could co-inhibit a space shuttle with male collegues..is the wearing of T-shirts and Jeans offensive?  When was the law changed to include dancing as an offense? How come we can accept a female as defacto prime minister..but turn against them when they talk about reducing Aids by adopting safer sex in this country?

But..the most important fact remains..why are all these charges and tirades being directed against women? And why are the women organisations keeping mum on this issue and not going to court or staging massive protests?

The answer according to me is simple…

India is changing fast. And it is changing at a faster rate socially. However the change is not even along the spectra of society. The younger lot, who give a damn about politics, have discovered new independence in terms of wealth and opportunity. And the older lot and the ones left behind, who are active politically, have not been able to digest the rapid changes.

The female, who till now had the role of housemaker, has discovered new found financial independence and many young girls have started to believe and realise that they can be as independent as a man. Thus the young girl of today instead of helping out in kitchen prefers to go for a  “cool evening” out with friends without time restrictions, a domain held previously only by the boys of the home. With the advent of internet and TV, she has discovered doors which probably she never knew existed.

The male of the society, previously the keeper of social and economic duties, is being ruffeled. He, who for such a long time, could script the story and direct the proceedings is suddenly finding himself alone. He is keen to hold onto this bastion. The other females of the society who feel deprived of this change are not willing to let others enjoy this new found independence and are desperate to bring them into the structure in which they had for long suffered.

However, the thorn which probably pricks the most is the new found sexual independence enjoyed by the young breed of girls . The fact that they can choose and have the ability, knowledge and resources to charter their way of life is a bitter pill for the old zealots to follow. The sexual independence and dominance, once the sole purview of the male (and primarily responsible for India heading towards being the “AIDS” capital of the world), is being challenged. That this is affront to his malehood is being projected by him as an affront to social customs (w.r.t. the Tamil culture issue raised during Khushboo debate.Note:Tamil Nadu has the second highest incidence of Aids in India). And the womenhood, eager to deprive the young, are following him blindly. Thus leading to the “Moral Policing” of the youth.

Its a sad fact that the people who are politically active belong to the category who have refused to accept these changes and want things to remain as they are either because of fear of losing the dominance (males) or because of jealous intentions (females). The younger lot who are living these changes and are probably the most productive of Indians, contributing to its economic upheaval, are disgusted with politics and want to have no part of it. The fact that exciting opportunities exist beyond the borders of India also makes them lax in regard to taking action against the “lack of freedom” in the so-called “democratic” India.

And all this contributes to the victories of the old gaurd hellbent on resisting changes and imposing so-called “Moral Policing”.

But that does not mean that the old gaurd would be winning forever. As seen in the Meerut incident the young people were out on the streets which forced the authorities to take action. Its only a matter of time before a change of guard happens. The wait is on for the straw which would break the camels back. I just hope it is sooner rather than later.

 

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