Culture Vultures of India Pvt Ltd found prey and time to swoop down on paltry earth again, this time on the serene campus of IIT Roorkee. The vultures found enough flesh and bones to peck at when the institute’s cultural festival, ‘Thomso 2010’ featured, among many other interesting events, a competition in which a male contestant would apply lipstick on their female companions by holding the stick on their mouths. Following the great and honourable tradition of ancient sports such as the lemon and spoon race, the couple who finished their task in the shortest time without letting go of the stick was crowned the winner.
Alas! The inevitable happened. Displaying alarming hypocrisy, the so called protectors of our ancient culture has proceeded to lambast this worthy continuation of the ancient lemon and spoon race. Organisations across the state of Uttarakhand who indulge in such activities have gone on to burn the latest effigies available and shout slogans in the loudest voice possible.
Gangs of motley crews have gone on record demanding an apology from the Dean of IIT – Roorkee, something the Dean was only happy to provide. Getting into the spirit, the institute and the authorities concerned proceeded to suspend five students who were believed to have been behind the competition. Everyone worth their salt in the state (and a few outside) have been expressing their opinion on what a despicable act the students of IIT Roorkee have committed by inventing a game that could potentially be a brahmasthra that could blast away the very foundation of the fragile and valuable Indian culture.
Not to be left behind in the race to be quoted on the issue by newspapers, activists and political wannabes have been shooting their mouths off left right and centre on ‘Thomso 2010’ (from where did they get that name?) in general and the controversial event in particular. There has been the usual large dose of ‘infiltration of western culture’, ‘decline of morals and values in the youth’, ‘effects of television and internet’ in all of the comments floating around, and so if you are looking for something new and interesting, I would recommend pretty much anything that is not the ‘Thomso 2010’ controversy.
Meanwhile, more sane and liberal minds have sauntered to the defence of the beleaguered students of IIT Roorkee, who have been suspended and sprayed across the fourth estate for a simple game. Pleading in favour of the students of the institute, they have often found themselves to be drowned and blacked out by the angry, loud and brazen battle cries of the vultures as they prepare to strike down with great vengeance and furious anger.
The vultures seem to be soaring high at the moment, aided by the moral high ground they have arbitrarily assumed and the inability of the sections of society who do not see eye to eye with the ultra-conservative hardliners. At a time when events of national importance are unfurling in various parts of our country, these culture vultures merely divert attention and create mountains out of molehills for some media coverage and publicity. As they insist in the maxim that might is right, we can only hope the wiser counsels will prevail and that saner and more liberal voices will be heard louder and with more clarity in the near future.
Aju Basil James