As winter gives way to spring, the commercially sanctioned season of love is upon us and the hate brigade is waiting in the wings to attack people, particularly women, who dare to wear their hearts on their sleeves. The recent attack at a Mangalore pub in which youngsters, mostly women, were beaten up by hardliner activists of Hindu group Sri Ram Sene (SRS), with the intention of teaching them Indian “cultural” values again brings into light issues related to the moral policing brigade. The attack which was obviously “planned” in the context of incoming Valentine Day celebrations, more for the purpose of shooting into overnight notoriety and limelight, quite clearly explains the real intentions behind the inflammatory speeches and threats.
Such hooliganism antics have become quite a regular feature of Valentine’s Day parties in India, but this time around, the warning signs are particularly portentous. Threats have been issued all over the country against those who are “denigrating” Indian culture by showcasing their affection in public.
The Sene chief, Pramod Muthalik, is already out on bail and the state and the central governments have failed to take any action against him and his men. In light of these current happenings, it is time to start asking questions, the answers for which ask for discussion and not imposition.
Who decides what Indian culture is? Who has given this person the right to impose his particular viewpoints upon others? Just look at the irony of the situation. Muthalik has been heard claiming that “the western world is imposing their capitalist values on Indians”. Now what exactly is this guy doing himself? Is he himself not using such attacks as a means to get others do what he wants them to do? And it is quite justified to note that there is no sentimental value attached to his actions. They have a well thought out purpose behind them, entirely different from what is being showcased.
Culture is something which can never be imposed. Because culture can never be an artificial phenomenon. In fact, it is the representation of the natural state of a particular group. A group sustains itself through free will. Do consenting adults need sanction from the rest of the world to hold hands in public? Or who other than the individual herself has the right to decide what clothes she should wear? Does our right to liberty, sanctioned by the Indian Constitution hold no actual meaning?
Which culture promotes violence against women? And that too on the pretext of their so- called “protection” from physical and sexual violence! The true victory of democracy occurs when each individual finds tolerance and acceptance amongst other society members. Such fascist measures can never lead to any fruitful conclusions and should not be tolerated in a democratic society like ours.
It is true that we are living in the times of conflict. India is particularly a heterogeneous society, thus occurrence of contradictory viewpoints bounds to happen. We float between ‘traditionalism’ versus ‘modernism’ stand points, or ‘Indian’ versus ‘Western’ value systems. In such a context, it is impossible to produce Indians based on an ‘exact’ design. But do we even want that? We should learn to take pride in our diversity and that can happen only if the value of respect for other’s belief systems is instilled within us, right from the start. And not rely on such means of brutal force and violence to get selfish means fulfilled.