Tuesday, December 06, 2005

India, Politics and the Culture Police

I was reading about Khushboo, Suhasini and their harassment by violent mobs and was shocked... No, I shouldn't say shocked, disgusted would be a better word, since I perfectly knew what our people are capable of.

This is not the first time someone has been victimized by the culture police and by politicians in the name of "protecting Indian Culture."

I was in my engineering when I first encountered the culture police. There was a movement afoot at the university by student groups to ban women from wearing Jeans, T-Shirts and other Western clothes, since they were indecent! Their argument was that such clothes provoked male students, distracting them (Give me a break - If you get distracted by every girl wearing a jeans, don't bother going to "America".)

I could have understood if women had protested against other women wearing such clothes, but to a man, they were all men!

These were the same guys who would drool when an "item" song came on the screen during a movie. These are the same guys who would mistreat their parents at home. These are the same guys who wear T-Shirts with obscene graffiti.

I happened to ask some of them casually, "Can you tell me the names of Ravana's sons?" (Ravana was the Rakshasa king in the Ramayana, one of the two main mythologies of India). Out of about 7, 5 couldn't even answer one name. These are the guardians of our culture (snort).

When politicians join the fray, you can think of the mess that would result. This is what has happened in Tamil Nadu. Concerned by rising HIV infections due to unprotected pre-marital sex, Khushboo happened to caution against the "unprotected" part, but failed to caution against the pre-marital part. This caused righteous (another snort) anger among our concerned citizens, who interpreted this as Khushboo asking them to have pre-marital sex!

I belong to Tamil Nadu, but don't understand the thought process that goes on there. They build a temple to Khushboo, when she was into films, knowing the nature of the film industry. But she courageously speaks about some issue of concern and suddenly, hindu culture is tarnished?

We have come to a stage where any thought that does not go well with our self-defined morality is wrong, to be stamped out. I am wondering what would be banned next. Writing blogs maybe.

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