Tag Archive | Mumbai

Kiss-ko Pyaar Karoon?

Recently, Free Thinkers, a group of Facebook users, organised the ‘Kiss of Love’ movement. The kiss of love was floated in social media by a group of youngsters known as free thinkers, in protest against Bharathiya Yuva Morcha attack on a hotel in Kozhikode last week, alleging immoral activities. 

The movement, in which people who signed up decided to have a kiss-a-thon in Kochi, a major city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, was intended as a symbolic message to the police…the moral kind. The kind who persist in bandying about that oft-repeated turkey, “Indian Culture”. The self-appointed upholders of what is truly Indian. Morally. Sex sadly is not one of these ‘moral’ things to them. However, it is deemed perfectly acceptable to urinate, defecate and masturbate in the street. I have personally seen a street masturbator and multiple street urinators and defecators in the past week.

These Indian religious nuts are probably all living in Biblical times, then. The times of immaculate conception, over and over and over again. The sort of immaculate conception that is repeated in every corner of the country. The kind that has got us to a 1.252 billion strong population as of last year’s census. [Probably higher this year.]

But no, let’s get back to how sex is bad and immoral and corrupting people, shall we? Nobody’s having it, how dare they? It is against the culture of the country with the world’s second-highest population.

Kissing is a beautiful thing. So is sex, but it is possibly too ‘scandalous’ for our upholders of tradition and culture to discuss (the stork dropped them all from the sky, of course), so let’s start small. Kissing. Affection. Love. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a sexual context, but is a thing of beauty even then. Sexual =/= bad, dear desi culture upholders.

This movement was meant to show two fingers to the moral police, comprised of individuals, groups, families, and scariest of all, political parties. [I say the scariest because of the sheer monetary and physical power they hold and wield as dangerously as an unsheathed sword.]

Trolls to the Facebook page for supporters of the Kiss of Love movement have variously posted things such as these

“will you marry the ‘thing’ you brought to kiss”

“I don’t have a problem. But everyone should take those ‘things’ you kissed back home with you”.

But dear man, you do in fact have a problem. The same problem far too many people in India face. That rape, sex and ownership are all somehow interconnected. And the topic that interconnects them in your mind is that timeless Indian favourite, virginity. Specifically, female virginity.

Countless films, instances in real life and suggestions by ‘well-meaning’ MORONS suggest to survivors of rape that they marry their rapists. Marry the people who chose to violate them and their space to exert power.

Their ‘logic’? That the rapist has already ‘taken’ this girl’s virginity, which of course is the entire deciding factor in her value as a woman and human being, so he might as well keep it.  This patriarchal, backwards mindset is sadly echoed by women nationwide, women who write into advice columns asking about ‘how to hide from my partner that I have had sex with my previous boyfriend’.

Nobody should need to ‘hide’ anything. And by nobody, I mean  no woman, because this ‘sexual shame’, this stigma women are made to feel if they are even the least bit free with their sexuality, is suffered by them and them alone. Men wear their sexual prowess like badges of honour. Women are slut-shamed instead.

Religion divides our nation, and has done so for years and years. However, causes like these seem to unite every regressive, extremist religious wingnut against one massive cause, in their quest to both decide and enforce what is ‘moral’. Freedom. Self-expression. Feminism. Nationwide equanimity.

India does not talk about sex nearly as much as it should, and this is very likely one of the causes for our uncontrollably high population. Nobody TALKS about sex or the issues that come with it. STDs and Venereal Disease. Pregnancy. Family Planning. Safe sex. EQUAL PARTNERS in sex and the fact that it is not just for ‘male pleasure’. The whole she-bang.

The prudish and religious both like to pretend sex doesn’t happen, exist, is ‘western’, the result of a foreign invasion. Ironically, it is possibly due to repeated foreign invasions that a liberated, mentally, physically and sexually free country became the nation of prudes that it now is. Victorian ideals have been left behind while conquerors left for their own lands, their own countries now societally liberal and their people liberated.

Unfortunately, this specific colony has decided to keep these classically ‘Western’, colonial ideas of propriety and prudishness, adopting them as their own, and becoming resistant to freedom of thought or expression, or the expression of sexuality, which to them is inherently baaaad. Here, however, is an excerpt from a book by a very non-Western man. A certain Vatsyayana. The writer of our lovely sex manual written nearly two millennia ago.

In the style of one of my favourite comic-book villains:

  Riddle me this, prudes who’ve appeared, who’s afraid of the big S-word?

I had the opportunity to speak to organisers as well as representatives of the movement. Several organisers and participants in Kochi were taken into custody by local police in what they described as ‘preemptive action’. To ‘prevent disruption’. Disruption of what, exactly, they did not mention. Several religious extremists attempted to attack them as well. The movement, however, has gone from strength to strength. The Facebook page for Kiss of Love was reported by the cultural torchbearers I have expounded upon, and was subsequently shut down. Support has multiplied since, however, with a burgeoning number of subscribers to a new page that has since appeared.

Reflective movements are now happening across the country – one of the country’s leading educational institutions, IIT Bombay, held its own kiss of love movement, which was a roaring success, and supported by the faculty at the institution too. Under conditions of anonymity, one of the organisers of a specific city-based movement shared with me the sort of language that has been used against him: he and his fellow protesters have been described by “the majority of people [who] called this movement as “drunkards and drug-addict” movement”.

Not one of these people has been able to articulate why exactly this movement is so offensive to them, what they think will happen as a result. Meanwhile they have no public outcry against rapists who roam free and assault women and children with absolute abandon, and question women on what they are wearing, if they ‘dare’ to report sexual assault.

Support, however, is growing among the rational, by leaps and bounds. We are now in exciting times. Free Love movements may have happened half a century ago in the rest of the world, and we are behind by all means, but it is incredibly exciting that it is now actually, actively happening here.

This support has, contrary to cultural torchbearer belief, not been restricted to ‘educated’ ‘westernised’ English-speaking intelligentsia. Translated below, a post off the site, originally in Malayalam:

If we have mentioned we will kiss then we will and we have
 
We will do it

 In public, in police station and even in front of police station

 
Inside ,outside 
What else do you seek
 

We have unity

Unity that can never be broken

 

You are the ones who have lost and not us.

We have created history.

* Many thanks to the wonderful NM, a lovely friend and person, for patient and beautiful translation.
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The Dutt-y Face of Indian Politics

Certainly, people the world over are obsessed with the world of the rich and the famous, with its glitz and glamour. It seems incredibly alluring, and that is understandable to some extent  – it is but human to covet what you cannot have, or what seems out of reach. But sometimes, it takes on ridiculous proportions, like it has in India, where Bollywood is the be-all and end-all of everything.  And it’s not just about the celebrities themselves. It’s about Madhuri Dixit’s secretary, Salman Khan’s bodyguard, Yash Chopra’s makeup artist, somebody’s housekeeper, somebody else’s toilet cleaner, you get the picture. The sordid tales of the daily life of a domestic helper to the stars is tabloid fodder, too. And it only gets worse.

Apart from celebrities feeding our public consciousness all the livelong day, they also make public nuisances of themselves.  They then join forces with this wonderful species I call Indicus Politicianus (and the words ‘anus’ and ‘politician’ go together perfectly) to form some sort of awful, corrupt, money-leeching, authority-flouting, make-your-own-rules because there-ARE-no-RULES superentity, kind of like the evil version of Captain Planet that liked to dump sewage and pollute the world.

Counterintuitively, this sort of behaviour will get you treated like royalty, waited on on hand and foot, and you will be the Jack Dawson of the Indian Streets.

Criminal convictions? What on earth are those? If you are a member of parliament or the Legislative Assembly, you don’t have to follow the letter of the law, you are judge, jury and executioner. Whatever remaining ‘work’ needs to be done ‘legally’ will manage to slant itself to support you.

Take these two, for instance:

“…………Kshitij Thakur, an MLA from the Bahujan Vikas Party..”  “…Ram Kadam of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena” assaulted a policeman last week. Why? The man pulled their car over because they were speeding. How dare he, no?

A line I have heard uttered frequently is ‘pata hai main kaun hoon?’ . Alternatively, ‘pata hai mera baap kaun hai?’  – Do you know who I am? Do you know who my father is?

The functioning rule here is if you or your father are rich and/or famous, connected to Bollywood, politics, cricket and or the murky filth surrounding them, you can do whatever you damn well please. Sadly, it is one that is all too true. Calling them bedfellows would be an understatement, because they might as well have been having a long, full-blown orgy. (Maybe they were right when they said pigs have the longest orgasms.)

Back to the story of the policeman. Said politicians were driving down the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, above the speed limit. A policeman does his duty and pulls them over. He gets beaten up, fifteen people to one, for his trouble.

After a hue and cry is raised, an investigation ensued. The investigation helped bring the guilty party to book!

Except it didn’t.

“Home Minister RR Patil said early inquiries suggest Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryavanshi used inappropriate language against..” the two MLAs mentioned earlier. What ‘inappropriate language’ may be is anybody’s guess, of course. Obviously, any form of ‘inappropriate language’ condones physical violence, where a person is outnumbered by fourteen to one.

State legislators rallied behind the lovely set of bullies, and called for ACTION against the COP. While the two assaulters were arrested, they were immediately released on bail.

In what seems a truly completely logical conclusion to all of this, the policeman in question, Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryawanshi, was  suspended from duty until further notice, while the assaulters were made to pay Rs. 15,000 apiece (pocket change in the world of politics) and were ‘not required to be present for court proceedings.’

Wonderful.

But that case is absolutely minuscule compared to what is currently gripping the nation: the trials and tribulations of Sanjay Dutt.

First, a little background for the uninitiated – it was twenty years (and two weeks) ago today.

Black Friday – Friday, 12th March, 1993.

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

13 coordinated bomb explosions ripped through Mumbai all day, killing upwards of 250 people and injuring 700. (Those are only the official figures, the actual number of fatalities must certainly have been even higher.) You can read more about the blasts here.

NDTV have an interactive timeline of the blasts here.

Now in the midst of the hullaballoo, Mr. Dutt here was found to be in possession of firearms. Illegally so. And we’re not just talking a pistol, which could have been for self-defense, or perhaps a revolver, or some such thing (while I do not at all condone keeping illegal firearms, or really, any firearms at all,  it is perhaps a little less ludicrous for someone to have a small Beretta in their personal possession than it is an AK-56.)

That batch of firearms was found to be from the same consignment as those used in the attacks. In April, 1993, Dutt was convicted under TADA, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act and sentenced to ‘six years’ rigorous imprisonment’, of which he served a massive, massive 25%. He was out of prison in 18 months.

Extensive campaigning by his father,  eminent actor and later politician (see how often those two things come up together?), Sunil Dutt, who by all accounts was a gem of a person with an exemplary record, led, in 2006, to Dutt Jnr being let off under TADA, but being charged under the Arms act alone.  Only coincidentally, of course, his father was a Member of Parliament at the time.

A few short one-month stints in prison later, he was out and intending to contest elections.  However, this was not to be – the Supreme Court refused to suspend his 2007 conviction under the Arms Act.

Cut to the present day. 26th March, 2013. Sanjay Dutt’s sentence was upheld.  He has 4 weeks to surrender (which I’m quite sure is 4 weeks longer than any other accused does).

Incidentally, a woman named Zaibunissa Qazi, who did exactly the same thing Dutt did – that is, store firearms for suspicious parties, was convicted under TADA. That sentence, unlike Dutt’s, was not rescinded, withdrawn or appealed, which is truly the way it should be!  Considering everybody else who stored arms was convicted under TADA, why was Sanjay Dutt let off with only a conviction under the arms act?

In spite of handcuffs transforming themselves into a slap on the wrist, our lovely film fraternity, Bollywood, has ‘come out in support of Sanju’. He is ‘not a criminal, was in the wrong place at the wrong time’. ‘This will shatter him’. ‘Poor man’.

Yeah, poor criminal, committing a crime. My heart bleeds for the fact that he was caught. Truly.

“Director Kunal Kohli too batted for Sanjay Dutt, saying, “The ’93 blast case should not be made about Sanjay Dutt. The Real planners are sitting safely in Pakistan” – Does that mean, Mr. Kohli, that those who have aided and abetted said ‘real planners’ must not be subject to the course of the law?

Others have discussed him being a ‘broken man’ and not knowing if he ‘will ever be able to recover from this’. Recover from committing a crime?! Are we being absolutely serious here? And if we are going to go the emotional appeal route, can not the mother, father, brother, sister, wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, what have you, simply shed a few tears on a television screen and be done with it?

Dutt’s latest support has come in the form of a certain Justice Markandey Katju, who has outlined these incredibly  astute reasons as to why he believes Dutt should be granted a pardon. Among them : Dutt’s difficulty at securing a bank loan (much like a majority of our population, who, unlike Dutt, were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths), his ‘difficulty with regard to foreign travel for film shoots’ (??!) and the ‘length of the trial’.

The length of the trial has to do with the fact that our legal system is just that slow, something you would think that Justice Katju, of all people, would be well aware of. Evidently not.

He also says Dutt has ‘two small children’.   Surely a lot of victims of the blasts, which, let’s face it, was a crime Dutt was involved in, directly or indirectly, had children themselves? What about the children who grew up without their fathers and mothers?

Katju also mentions that Dutt’s parents, famous actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis, were exemplary citizens who did much for India and Indians.  What on earth do their good deeds have to do with their son’s criminal activity, and should said good deeds preclude punishment for Dutt, and why? I now have a burning curiosity as to what Jack the Ripper’s parents did. Maybe he deserved a pardon, too?

Others describe Dutt as a ‘victim of circumstance’, a man who lost his mother,  his wife, and then, a decade ago, his father. While losing a loved one, nay, several loved ones, must certainly be incredibly painful, he was a) an adult, and b) it is absolutely not something that can be used to explain away voluntary criminal activity.

Another famous man lost his mum, a woman he was very close to, at the tender age of 14. But instead of turning into a wreck, the man became a superstar on his own merit at the tender age of 16. He then lost his best friend and songwriting partner, and later the love of his life. He still remains a genius, and a grounded, conscientious, contributing member of civilised society, who has not once been involved in anything remotely criminal.  A man who wrote about love, war, peace, loneliness, life, everything under the sun. A man who wrote songs like this for the woman he loved.

So why the public outcry, the pity, the sadness, the appeal for somebody who was born privileged and chose to fritter away their opportunities and good fortune on drugs and crime? Because he played a character who interacted with, incidentally, a true politician, one who actually cared about the country, back in the days when we had those – Gandhi?

While I agree one is innocent until proven guilty, in a country where, if you are or know the right people,  you cannot even be proven guilty in the first place, what water does that even hold?

Why should he have two famous politicians now travelling the country, going from pillar to post, campaigning for ‘mercy’ for him, and on what grounds does he deserve any mercy whatsoever? Sympathy for the Devil?

Politics and Bollywood are strange bedfellows indeed, but in the end, while it may be their orgy, it’s the country that’s getting fucked.

Lage Raho indeed.

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