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January 2, 2001

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Varsha Bhosle

Different demographics, identical doctrines

No, I'm in no mood to bring you seasonal cheer. Not after that ban on beauty pageants, which the RSS supports because, apparently, "it would discourage consumerism," and certainly not after the Evolutionary Dead Ends went hammer and tongs at "the Christian New Year" celebrations. The various ingredients of the saffron-flavoured alphabet soup -- don't ask me to reel off the lot, let's just call them Manchkins -- threatened that they would:

  • deal with the situation "in our own way",
  • not hesitate to resort to violence to disrupt New Year-eve functions,
  • ensure that the owners of offending restaurants would "face action",
  • ensure that hotel-owners bar couples from using their premises or face saffron ire,
  • make certain that the organisers of such functions "face the Bajrang Dal's wrath."
  • "duly punish" young, unmarried couples found at New Year bashes in hotels and clubs,
  • stop music bands from participating in such events.

And all this because:

  • vulgarity was being promoted among the youth by the "anti-Hindu lobby" on these occasions,
  • gatherings of boys and girls -- known as "love birds" -- in restaurants "hurt Indian culture,"
  • ushering in the New Year with booze, dance and music is an anti-Hindu concept,
  • it is a "systematic attempt by the MNCs to corrupt our youth,"
  • "our [Hindu] New Year does not begin on January 1,"
  • such celebrations "must be done in a traditional manner with prayers, charity and other good deeds,"
  • "these DJ-VJ nights" encourage youth to be "indecently clad,"
  • the consumption of liquor and other luxuries is sinful "when crores of people are dying of hunger due to drought,"
  • "Time has come to check this degeneration of our values and culture,"
  • "Till a few years ago, no one had even heard of such things,"
  • "These types of celebrations are an attack on our culture,"
  • "We are against of [sic] such obscenity in our city,"
  • "such a step could go a long way in boosting the morale of the country." And, best of all,
  • "the country's security is under threat" (the RSS media cell).

Lucknow, Kanpur and Rajkot faced the brunt of the Dead Ends' wrath. That is, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, both of which have BJP governments. Needless to say, it's yet another affirmation of the pinkos' allegation that power in the hands of the barbarian Fascists will eventually destroy India (it's another matter altogether that power with the Stalinists would also bring about identical results -- faster). But what flummoxes me is, weren't these Manchkins the very same who (pre-central-power days) agitated for the Uniform Civil Code, which is nothing more than the separation of politics from religion? Isn't it true that the fury against the multiple civil codes existing in India is said to have been caused by the substitution of religious regulations and social customs of various Indian communities for secular civil laws? Aren't these the dipweeds who rage against the Islamic rulers for using State power to impose their beliefs and practices on India? Then, by what right do these posterior apertures dictate to me that I should celebrate only the Hindu New Year and do so by singing bhajans??

What do they mean by calling non-Hindutvawadis "pseudo-secularists"? The term implies that only the saffronites espouse true secularism, no? Which, of course, is a sham. All the anti-New Year statements demonstrate that the Sangh Parivar's concept of Hindu Rashtra is no more than the imposition of a distorted, Talebanised "Hindu" code on all the communities. So yes, the Mosies and Christians fear BJP rule with reason. It's another matter altogether that neither respects nor aspires to secularism: Witness the designs of the NDT, an umbrella grouping of Islamic extremist orgs, and its supporting political party, the Indian Union Muslim League, to bring about a Taleban kind of dispensation in the Muslim-majority district of Malappuram and the neighbouring districts of Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod.

Considering that Sangh Parivaris get multiple orgasms simply by dwelling in the times of "Tejo Mahalay" (more on that another day, I promise) and the Indigenous Aryan, why don't they get the same spasms -- and so much more legitimately! -- by researching the Kamasutra? Or was that produced by another culture?! What could be "indecently clad" in a place like Rajkot? Jeans? A mini? A clinging T? Isn't our glorious "Hindu culture" studded with gossamer-thin fabrics at the waist and nothing more than a strip on the bosom -- that is, only if the woman in question was of a certain caste and status, otherwise she would be happily topless? Would it be Ok for one to wear the costumes as etched in Ajanta and Ellora: diaphanous skirts barely covering the crotch and a bit of nipple on display...? Will that be Hindu enough for the evolutionary broken links? Or did Hindu culture begin only after Raja Ravi Varma chose the Maharashtrian nav-vaari saree in which to drape his depictions of Hindu goddesses? Yes, I'm aware that Ajanta-Ellora are Buddhist creations -- but you see, even Muslims have Hindu ancestry and hence are Hindu...

Since when is liquor, dance and music an anti-Hindu concept? Is there a shred of a commandment in any Hindu scripture that proscribes music and dance? Or even polygamy and polyandry? Yes, they exist in the Quran, and the Sangh Parivar is simply the Taleban in a Hindu garb. In their basic characteristics, the Parivar is NO different from the Jamaat-e-Islami or the Taleban, or the Christian Coalition or Promise Keepers: Different names, different demographics, but the same sociopolitical doctrines of oppression. The variables lie only in the targets, and the creeds touted as supreme.

These are the thoughts of Pakistan's Amir Jamaat-e-Islami, Qazi Hussein Ahmed: A tyranny-free society can never be established unless Islamists come into power. "The present system based on injustice will never end unless people snatch power from the anti-Islamic forces. Until you have power in your hands you can't enforce Quran and Sunnah." Islam possesses a solution to all the problems faced by humanity for all times to come. "It is the very purpose for which Jamaat-e-Islami was established. Besides, it is the only party which comprises trained and committed people to carry out and accomplish its mission." The reason behind the failure of successive rulers in enforcing Islam was that they did not have trained and committed people to do the job. The Jamaat does not see the nation divided and endeavours "to end all kinds of discrimination, social injustice, sectarianism and poverty. We believe that we were divided by vested interests to keep us subjugated. In the name of freedom and equality, they are promoting obscenity."

In WHAT way is the Bajrang Dal or the Hindu Jagran Manch different from the Jamaat...?

The Taleban does not allow women to work outside the home. Girls are not allowed to attend school. No female is permitted to leave home unless accompanied by a husband, father, brother or son. Homes and other buildings in which women or girls might be present must have their windows painted so no female can be seen from outside. Women who leave their homes must be in burqa. Women are not allowed to wear shoes that make noise when they walk; their footsteps must not be heard... You see, the Taliban has already acted upon "Time has come to check this degeneration of our values and culture." There are no attacks on Afghanistan's culture any more; no obscenity in their cities; the morale of the country has been suitably boosted; and, even football is no longer played in the afternoons (prayer-time, you see) and by men in vulgar shorts. No more is the security of that country under threat...

But let me illustrate the bouddhik pohoch and this-world-ness of the Hindutva Manchkins: In 1997, Stardust downloaded a doctored nude picture supposedly of Pooja Bhatt and published it on the cover. After giving the magazine a good two weeks to go into a profitable reprint, the Akhil Bharatiya Agnishikha Manch sprang into action: They further lightened Stardust's financial burden by buying more copies for a public bonfire, gheraoed Bhatt's home, and did all the honourable things that are a matter of course in our neighbouring countries.

After the police gave Bhatt a clean bill of health, you'd have thought it was all over, no? Hehehehe... The next thing the Manchkins did was: "VSNL MURDABAD! BAN INTERNET!" Alka Pandey, queen dowager of the Manchkins, explained: "VSNL does not censor what appears on the Internet. They are corrupting our generation." And then came a bolt as realistic as any from Khomeini's The Little Green Book: Pandey said she would be charging VSNL under the provisions of the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act and the Indecent Representation of Womenís Prohibition Act for "telecasting" obscene pictures. Next: "When we took a morcha against Pooja Bhatt, we did not know that the Internet was the real culprit. But this fact does not absolve the actress from blame either. Why did she keep quiet till we raised the issue?" Naturally, the onus of educating the attackers on the subtleties of contemporary technology and the culpability of the media rests on the person injured.

It ended with the VSNL's revealing statement: "When we explained our position to the activists, they asked us whom they should protest against next. We tried explaining that there was nobody who could be held responsible for the trend."

James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg say about the Information Age: "We stand at the threshold of the most sweeping revolution in history. The coming transformation is both good news and bad. The good news is that the information revolution will liberate individuals as never before. For the first time, those who can educate themselves will be almost entirely free to invent their own work and realise the full benefits of their own productivity. Genius will be unleashed, freed from both the oppression of government and the drags of racial and ethnic prejudice... The brightest, most successful and ambitious of these will emerge as truly sovereign individuals operating in a realm without physical existence that will nonetheless develop what promises to be the world's largest economy by the second decade of the new millennium."

You'd think the authors never met the likes of our Parivaris, right? Wrong. The bad news is: "There is a high probability that some who are offended by the new ways, as well as many who are disadvantaged by them, will react unpleasantly. Their nostalgia for compulsion will probably turn violent. The clash between the new and the old will shape the early years of the new millennium. We expect it to be a time of great danger and great reward, and a time of much diminished civility in some realms and unprecedented scope in others."

What the authors didn't realise is, the closed-minded and culturally illiterate do not exist in *this* day and age. The mentality that creates a nostalgia for compulsion and the clash between progress and regression is itself born of family values. No age or place or technology has any effect on stunted minds.

Varsha Bhosle

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