Friday, February 06, 2009

Re: Is India in need of moral policing?

[Disclaimer: The contents of this post, as always, are my views on the topic. Anyone is welcome to have alternate views and can express them in the comment section. But no derogatory remarks, please! Any comment that is inappropriate will be removed.]

This is in reply to one of my friend's posts. He had discussed about the recent attacks on women in Mangalore and other places in India for going to pubs and consuming alcohol, not because it was not good for health but because it eroded the Hindu culture. His take was that in a deeper sense, those attacks were not wrong.
I read the post and started writing a comment on it but quickly realized that my comment went quite a bit longer than is usual and hence I thought it would be easier to write it as a post so that others can participate in it as well.

First things first: I totally condemn these attacks! This is not a politically correct answer but an answer that I would stand by even in places where I don't have to be politically correct.

Reasons behind my take:
Fist, it makes us hypocrites if we want to do something and do its exact opposite. We are not true to ourselves. That, according to me, takes away the essence of life. You might not be true to the world. But its very important to be true to what you are, what you want and what you believe in. Cheating oneself is the most foolish thing in this world. In the comments section, King Vishy had said(quoting him):"Why should one do things he loves with that guilt?? if one likes it, why shdnt he enjoy it as long as it does not affect others? Am very much a traditionalist, mind you.. But I also agree with Kushwanth Singh when he says that Indians are very big hypocrites. Every man has sex on his mind, but we only wouldn't talk about it openly."
I totally agree with Vishy, if you want to do something AND do it in secret, why not do it in a non-secret manner? Does doing a wrong in secret make it right? Or if you think something is not wrong, then what stops you from doing it in a non-secret manner?

Second, every individual has the right to do something if they want to as long as it doesn't harm the society. Quoting vox populi,"Wont it affect us, if there comes a day when father and son sit and have a drink side by side?" There are fathers and sons and families who've been doing this for ages. So, I don't think that it is a result of the recent influence on culture. Further, can anyone stop a family that wants to do so? Will the Government and other groups go into each family and check this out? That is totally ridiculous. And suppose if your neighbor and his son drinks together, does it mean you and your son should do too? What happened to your rational mind that decides what is good for you and what is not? If there are such concerns about drinking spoiling the culture, shouldn't the Government ban alcohols totally? For if the problem is alcohol, its better to ban it and stop the above said situation from rising at all than making alcohol freely available and asking people to stop drinking. This is like keeping a bar of chocolate before a kid and asking him not to eat it. Won't you agree that parents would be better off not buying the chocolate in the first place if they think its bad for the kid? Or, does the Hindu culture allow the guys to destroy themselves while the girls are saved? Kyaa logic yaar!

Third, would you stop doing something just because someone else told you not to do it? Then, you are giving up your right to think and act, the basic rights and requirements for a human being. Do you think saving the culture is so important that we all stop being human beings any more? No thanks! I prefer to be a human first and then be defined by any culture, be it East or West.

Fourth, this point is in direct answer to the post. Bravery is a part of Indian culture but I'm not sure when hitting helpless women came under the 'bravery' category. Rather, that is the ultimate form of cowardice - hitting someone who can't hit you back for you are sure that they can't hurt you at all. Further, the post says about beer parties in offices. No manager or subordinate would force someone who does not want to drink. So, if everyone in the office does not want to drink, there can be no beer parties. So, I still don't get what is the problem here. All that a person has to say is a emphatic "No!". Is it so hard to say it? Would you rather drink beer to saying a small two-letter word?? Totally incomprehensible logic! Further, I do agree respecting elders is part of Indian tradition. But does your grandmother know about your office presentation and the need for you to check your mails even when on vacation? If she tells you not to check mails during vacation and instead help her out, would you risk your work for her words? Won't you try to reason with her about your actions? Then, where does "giving respect to elders just because they are elders" come in? Taking a stance only because it supports you is plain cheating, yourself and the world. In short, there are a lot of things that are different between the present generation and the past. What is needed is clear and respectful communication and not mindless heeding of one's orders. Last, it was said that someone was given something based on their seniority. Would any person accept it if he was passed on for a promotion even though he is talented enough just because there is another senior-but-less-talented person in the team? I find it disgusting that people have two standards, one for themselves and one for the society. Be true to one standard and stick by it at all times. Be true to yourself!

Finally, I follow Hinduism. Hinduism is a way of life, it is not defined by any cultural boundaries. There are hundreds of thousands of people in US and other countries who do not wear dhoties and saris to work and class in their daily lives. Does that mean that they are less of Hindus than those who do wear them? There are millions of people, even in India, who don't go to the temple every day. Does that mean that they are less dedicated to Hinduism than those that go? There are hundreds of millions of people who don't follow all the fasts and prayers of Hinduism. Does that mean that they can't be true Hindus while those that follow are? Hinduism doesn't say one can't be a Hindu if he doesn't do something. That is like God telling us that He can't love us if we don't pray Him. He loves us, all said and done, whether we pray to him or not, whether we even believe him or not. That is His characteristic. If God says "I won't love you because you don't pray or believe in me", then that is not God.

The reason that Hinduism has a number of images of God is that it allows people to pray God in whatever form they want. That is the beauty of Hinduism, its all encompassing and inclusive. It includes people of all beliefs and even non-believers. When something is inclusive, it can't have boundaries right? Hinduism does not have any boundaries. Then, where does the question of doing something to keep Hinduism intact come into picture? Maybe, the girls attacked in Mangalore did not follow Hinduism as perceived by the attackers. But, then, half a billion people do not follow Hinduism as I perceive it. Does that give me the right to attack all the half billion? Or does that give the half billion people the right to attack me since I don't follow their perception of Hinduism? That is against the Constitution of every country in this world, including India.

In all, what I do in my personal life is none of anyone else's business. Others can suggest what can be done, but it should stop there, as a suggestion. I have a rational mind to differentiate what is right for me and what is not. For, if I choose a path, no one would be most affected than me, right? Can anyone in this world have more care about me than myself? Similarly, I do not have the right to say what others should do in their personal lives as long as it doesn't affect me or the society as a whole. So, telling that these attacks were done to protect Hinduism is total bull shit! Hinduism has been in this world for the past 5000 years(recorded) and many more(unrecorded). It has survived so many issues like Muslim conquests, British rule, etc without help from mere individuals. So can it survive the challenges of the 21st century. For after all, religion is what we make of it. If we decide to be Hindus and implement the changes in our families, then Hinduism would be present always. It doesn't need goondas to keep it alive. Our culture is stronger than that. Don't you think so?

Readers, what is your take on the entire issue? Do comment on the deeper points as well. And do let me know if there is something I missed or overlooked. Would love to hear it all!


King Vishy said...

Agree totally with you :) kinda in a hurry.. so rushed thru the post.. but in all, agree with u :)

(more so cos u hav quoted me :P :D)

Swethan said...

The whole incident of the girls getting thrashed was shocking yet funny. It was shocking in that an individual be it man or woman can be deprived of their rights so easily by a bunch of hooligans under the mask of culture protectors. And for the very reason that a bunch of third-rate people can cause such havoc it is funny.

With respect to what you say, I agree our country is filled with hypocrites. I remember when Kusbhoo said "don't expect your wives to be virgins" (which is infact something we ought to accept), a whole bunch of self-proclaimed "tamil" housewives took brooms and protested. However, where do these dummies go when there is news everyday about a "housewife" running away with a young boy or running a prostitution racket??? What do these people do when an elected representative sleeps with a call girl?? Nothing will ever happen ! Why ?? Because these are the very rogues who run their daily lives claiming to be the fighters and protectors of culture and community.

I don't see anything changing in our country. People who can bring a change won't step out and if they ever do people will look into caste and all other ridiculous things. So in a country where people (public and so called innocent) have no regard for general good (only private interests), innocent people (girls and guys) and general public deserve to be thrashed and abused by these hooligans. At least this will bring people together. Me blogging aint gona change a damn thing !!! Which is the very reason I hate blogs and people (millions) who take cover on the internet and voice their anger and disgust at many things !! No offense to this blogger (a good friend of mine) but it's just how I feel in general about voicing anger in blogs! It aint changing a thing !

Arun said...

yeah, i agree with most of it. ppl do irrational things when its against thier narrow-minded morals and want to justify a cause. usually religion or culture the usual scapegoat.
fwiw, we all have double standards when it comes to many things. probably parents of teenagers will agree with this more i guess.
On an unrelated note,I think Indian tradition and hinduism is all overrated.

Kashu said...

It is acually amusing to see that this topic has been streched so far and politicians are commenting and condeming such acts only verbally. I mean please! just speaking that you oppose such actions doesnt help unless you back it with actions coz as they say "actions speak louder than words". It is frustrating tht even after getting such a negative response from the public and the government, this bunch of so called "culture preserves" have the guts to spell out on national TV that they will not let the youngers celebrate the "valentine day" or for any such day which would be linked to the western culture.

It is so disappointing to see that there exist not only a handful but a huge gang of people, along with there followers who link 'positive adaptation' to 'being westernized' and 'individuality of women' as a 'sign of bad luck'
You know wht...sometimes i feel that these men are so desperate to supress women just because they dread that with women becoming more empowered they will have competition which might hurt there males egos..............but little do they know that women are much stronge headed than they presume we are. And such demening acts will not scare them but further create a spark to prove themselves to the world !!

R Srikkant said...

His take was that in a deeper sense, those attacks were not wrong - Alpine path

With all humbleness, may i say you ve got it completely wrong. I wonder if my post conveyed that it was right. My post was about the support this stupid act was harnessing and the logic that was supposed to be behind that. It was an analysis of the prevailing situation. With respect to my blog, according to the name 'vox populi', i dint post my personal opinions per se, but, i posted my analysis about what i think is going on in a general sense.

I condemn these attacks as much as any man with common sense would do. I tried to go beyond that simple condemning and tried to find 'why all this'? May be that s what gave you the impression that i was supporting this?

R Srikkant said...

would you stop doing something just because someone else told you not to do it? - Alpine path

May i ask would you start doing something which was an occasional habit, more often, just because someone else asked you not to do? This is what is happening. I hear some slogan's like 'pub bharo'. What in the world is that?

The bottom line is, we all know that this is just to gain some political mileage and there is nothing more to it. I never talked about women's rights/hinduism in that post. That s meant for a more detailed post.

Well, if you re interested for a discussion abt hinduism:

More on this issue:

You may want to join that community 'paradoxes' as well. I ve had great discussions with highly intellectual people there.

alpine path said...

King Vishy, thanks! :)
On a lighter note, I didn't know that to get your agreement, all I had to do was to quote you. Jus' kidding! :D

Swethan, true. When people stop being hypocrites(atleast to themselves), the world would be a much better place to live in. Thanks and welcome aboard!

Karthikeyan....KK said...

Alpine - Enough said here. Of all things that India needs now , 'Moral Policing' especially, of the 'kinds' recently shown do not even figure in the agenda!!!!

alpine path said...

Arun, true. And its sad that people try to use something like the culture to hide their reasons for bad behavior. And yeah, all the culture stuff is overrated, both East and West.

Kashu, initially, I hadn't planned to blog on this issue. For I know that any sane person would oppose the attacks. But when I read that certain sections of people are actually supporting it, it was revolting. And, that led me to write such a long post as to why its wrong. For, wrong thinking is more dangerous than anything else as words and actions stem from thought. I'm hoping to do my bit in changing someone's thinking about this issue. Even if one person who thinks that these attacks are good stops for a minute at this blog and thinks things through, I would consider it a success. For once people start thinking and analyzing, they understand that violence leads nowhere. And that would stop these attacks eventually. And about men and women and egos, that is a very touchy topic with both sides of the argument(no ego/yes ego) having a lot to say. In my opinion, I don't think a person should be egoistic, be it male or female. Everyone is here in this world to live a life and no one is greater or smaller than any other. So, its ironic to talk of egos in this small lifetime that we have. But, yeah, its human nature to overcome any obstacle in the course of time. Womankind, when hit, also learns to overcome it in its own way. Thanks and welcome aboard!

alpine path said...

Srikkant, Oh ok! If you say that the views of this post are not yours but the general public, then its different. For, you can't be held responsible for the general public's view,right? Anyways, my reply is factored to the general public view, not specifically to yours. So, no worries!

I feel that doing something or not doing something should be based on you and not based on someone telling you to do or not to do it. I feel it is right to do something, so I do it. If I don't feel it is right, I don't do it. The logic is simple. As long as it doesn't hurt the society, nobody else should give a damn too. I seriously don't understand where Women's rights or Men's rights come into this picture. Care to explain?

alpine path said...

Karthikeyan, true. I hadn't even wanted to give this attack more publicity for I felt everyone condemned it. But looks like I was wrong and hence the long post. I still can't understand how people can be stupid enough to cheat themselves. Or am I expecting too much from fellow human beings and placing them in high regard?

R Srikkant said...

I seriously don't understand where Women's rights or Men's rights come into this picture. Care to explain? - Alpine path
Sure, why not? People writing about this often consider this as an attack on women consuming liquor. Aren't men supposed to be part of the same culture? Doesn't men drinking bother the 'moral policers'?

My take on that is "The answer is the DISCRIMINATION ITSELF IS A PART OF THE CULTURE. There has always been 2 different yardsticks for men and women. There were practices like 'sati' by which atleast SOME women d ve got burnt without their full consent just because their husband passed away. But there are male god's in hindu religion who are defined in character as philanderer's.
So in the name of preserving the so called CULTURE are we trying to REASSERT THE DISCRIMINATION in the same prominent way as it 'used to be'?"

This kinda thinking leads you to discussions abt women's rights in this? Guess we ve gone a little long abt this. Let s reserve some discussions for future too :)

King Vishy said...

Agggagggaaa.. Sabaash.. Sariyaana poatti :)

alpine path said...

Srikkant, in that case, everything can lead to women's rights :) But it was an interesting discussion.

King Vishy, lol! :D

Rajaram Parantapa said...

1. Totally accept with Swethan, if you don't have the balls to stand up to these idiots, you need to be thrashed...(you brought it onto yourself.
2. Again I have to agree with Swethan, regarding my opinion of bloggers. People (Bloggers) please voice your concerns where they can be heard. No hard feelings author !!!
3. Hypocrisy has always been India's forte.
4. I read Srikant's post and I believe that every culture's uniqueness must be preserved, but if and only if it is good. I sincerely despise 'respect the elder' tradition because I have seen many foolish elders. Everyone should earn their respect. I think India is now where it is because of this respect towards people who are not really worth.
5.The process of evolution will remove those traits that are not necessary(be it in living things,culture,religion etc), so if someone is trying to resist that change they are fighting a losing cause..If you resisting the change you are just making the transition more bloody.

alpine path said...

Rajaram, I agree with all points. And yeah, bloggers should take it to places where they are heard. But the problems are so complex and the solutions equally so that there are a number of questions as to who to tell it to, in what form and to what extent. So, my guess is all the bloggers try to make sense of what is happening and bring forth their views on it. And there are millions reading blogs nowadays. Won't atleast one or two among the millions be able to pass the message to the right source and take the right action?
All I'm concerned now is that the transition sure is happening and the people know it too. But some of them use it for personal gains hurting others in the process. How much bloodier will it get before the attackers understand that everyone is playing a losing game?? And what price do we, as a society, pay for it?