Vantage point

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dinosaurs Stomping

The voices of social illiberals in India are getting stronger by the day. First there was the uproar in Tamilnadu over actress Khushboo's comments that pre-marital sex is OK. Then came the Haryana government's decision banning women from working night shifts in call centres. And now there is more medieval stuff happening in Tamilnadu.

Principals of colleges, politicians, and several "senior" citizens have made a habit of claping down on any so-called loosening of the cultural norms whenever an incident of sexual molestation has hit the headlines. Several colleges have attempted dress-codes and tried to gag any expression of the most natural of human instincts.

Like most freedom-loving people, I too am distressed by this big-brotherly attitude that our society is displaying. But think about it carefully and you will realise that all such incidents are the pointers towards the impending extinction of the moral dinosaurs.

The values related to sex, intimacy, relationships etc are rapidly changing in India. The change is rapid, and almost irreversible. These incidents of moral policing are nothing but a vain attempt at venting frustration at the inability to cope with the new values. They are empty gestures by self-styled status-quoists aimed at consoling themselves that they are doing something to preserve the great "Bhaarateeya sanskriti".

Take dress code and inter-mingling among sexes for instance. Today, a lot of women are more confident about their identity, and more assertive about their right to shape their own careers and chalk out their personal lives. When a moral dinosaur sees a woman wearing a tank top and a short skirt, walking confidently, instead of wearing something traditional and walking demurely, his/her concepts of what things were or should be are shattered. After all, the change is not only in the clothing. The change is in attitude. And this new attitude makes the dinosaur uncomfortable. This "new" woman is nothing like what his mother and sister were, nothing like what his wife was, and nothing like what he wants his daughter to be.

But he can't change the attitude, the way of thinking. So he seeks solace in something cosmetic that he can actually change. Ban those tank tops and skirts. Make the girl wear a salwaar kameez. Next day, when he sees the girl in a salwaar kameez, the dinosaur deludes himself thinking that suddenly, the girl has become the docile "bhaarateeya naari" that he so admires.

Be it dress code, or forcing Khushboo to apologise about her statements, they are hollow self-comforting gestures that will make the dinosaur believe that his kind will never be extinct. As if Khushboo apologising will suddenly make all girls take a vow of staying a virgin until they marry.

Some people!