Vantage point

Monday, May 26, 2003

Today I want to talk about one of my rants - CULTURE!!!

Actually I have no problems with culture. I just hate it when people misuse it to ram their ideas down others' throats and dictate their lives. I also hate it when anyone claims to be an authority on culture.

What got me thinking about it was the whole cow slaughter ban issue. But that has been done to death on many blogs so I'll not talk about it more.

So what is culture? I look at culture as something that is. No, I didn't eat up any words. "Culture is something that is". In our HR courses culture was defined as a shared set of norms beliefs and values. Let me add something to it. Culture is the everchanging shared set of norms, beliefs and values. How can anyone just decide to freeze the definition at one point and say "OK this this this is our culture, that that that is not. Down with that."

Sushma Swaraj!! A very articulate lady, who displays signs of an intelligent brain at most times. I had loved the way she gave the interview on PTV last year. A work of art if there ever was one.

But then she comes up with these idotic concepts of "Bharatiya sabhyata". Who is she to decide what Indian culture is? How can she just ban music videos and scrutinise TV channels? What amuses me is the whole duplicity of the Sangh Parivar in this issue. These people have a phobia of the Christian and Muslim influences on the Indian society and get all misty eyed talking about the so called 'Saraswati civbilisation'. The only history they want to teach is the ore-7th century history without any "foreign" influences.

If this does not already sound like a regressive idea, what makes it worse is the hypocrisy. It is common knowledge what Indian culture was before the Muslim and Christian rule. Go check out Khajuraho, Konark, and a host of other cave temples. Read Mricchakatika or Kamasutra. In those days, the Indian society must definitely have been a liberal one. A society which celebrates the female form in such a skillful way must obviously had visual access to it all the time. Not like today when everytime a girl goes out in a tigh skirt, she attracts wolfish whistles.

It is a universally accepted fact that the "prudishness" that we see in the Indian society today is a result of Islamic and British rule. Some think of this as a good thing. I don't. The more you make things taboo, the more people hanker for them. So anyway, this is an aspect of the Islamic-British rule that the Sangh Parivar is keen on maintaining.

In Uttar Pradesh, beauty contests are banned!!!!

In Uttaranchal, you need a special permission to conduct non-Indian music concerts!!!!

In Pune, Sandip Khardekar of the BJP had issued a threatlike statement saying "We will try to educate girls about how to dress properly for college".

Fortunately, Pune has a vibrant and vocal middle class. When Khardekar made this boorish announcement, he was met with a barrage of criticism from every medium. A group of army officers wrote to newspapers wondering if this is what they fight for, lesser and lesser freedom for their children in our own country. Khardekar had to drop the issue at once and withdraw the so called "plan to educate our girls".

Now not every city is like Pune. In Kanpur, I believe girls are banned from wearing jeans to colleges. there are many such unstated restrictions in place all over the country.

And all this is done in the name of that bogus concept called "culture". How would the Sanghists like to live under the "culture" of 100 years ago? Sushma Swaraj would not have been able to step out of the house, Murali Manohar Joshi and Vajpayee could not have visited foreign countries, and so on.

So please do not try to shackle us with your ramshackle ideas of morality. Go and read up on stats about where the eve teasing and rape incidents are highest. It will show you that there is no fact there is negative correlation between how "mod" women dress in a region and the eve teasing incidents there.

And assuming that there had been a positive correlation between such crimes and women dressing, you would still be barking up the wrong tree. What should you treat, the symptom or the sickness? The sin lies in the mind of the guy who will actually commit any lewd act rather than a woman who wears skimpy clothes.

But the Sanghis don't see that. They will go ahead and ban the 'Kaanta Laga' video. I personally found the video very stupid and not worthy of attention. What I hate is that the government is infringing on my right to reject that video. It is forcing the ban down my throat, all in the name of culture.

As I said during a libertarian seminar once, for 45 years, the Congress took away our economic freedom. Now the BJP is doing its bit by taking away our personal freedom.

GROW UP!!!!!!