By Prakash Singh
We Indians appear to have mastered the art of hypocrisy. On the one hand, we look upon woman as the personification of Shakti, on the other, we are reducing her to an object of pleasure only. We idolise Sita and Savitri but the media gives us a daily dose of Madonna and Britney Spears.
Every time there is an assault on the modesty of a woman, there is great hue and cry. The killing of Dawn Griggs, the Australian woman, by a taxi driver raised genuine concern about the safety of women in Delhi. Earlier, a Swiss diplomat was abducted by two youths near Siri Fort Auditorium and raped inside her car. The outcry is understandable. Such incidents bring a bad name to the country, its attitude towards women and its system of policing.
Any effort to curb these trends is opposed as being prudish and criticised as interference with the freedom to exhibit or to see whatever one likes. Sexual licence is being encouraged in the name of freedom of expression. We are shamelessly and brainlessly aping the exhibitionist culture of the West.
But, is it possible to fan the flames and expect, at the same time, that there should be no fire? We are gradually and imperceptibly sinking into a permissive culture. Scenes which were unthinkable a few years back are being shown with impunity on the screen. TV channels show English movies with explicit scenes. Our so-called national dailies are freely carrying advertisements welco-ming males and females of all ages “for broad-minded friendship”. Phone numbers are given for “love and romance chatting”. There are also advertisements of massage services offering “bold, smart, decent, high-profile Indian, Spanish, Russian, Arabian and other overseas masseurs available round the clock.”
Delhi recently went ga-ga over a play by Eve Ensler. He was no doubt elated, having won over the glitterati of the Indian capital. The play was banned in Shanghai and Chennai and also in some Catholic universities of the US. The majority of English-educated Indians, who have bartered away their souls to Western values, however applauded it.
The shows of Enrique Iglesias were another high point in sexual exhibitionism. At Bangalore, he simulated the love act on stage and raised passions to an unprecedented high. A similar performance in Toronto had led to loud protests. Parents had walked out of the show. Our response has been dumb.
Any effort to curb these trends is opposed as being prudish and criticised as interference with the freedom to exhibit or to see whatever one likes. Sexual licence is being encouraged in the name of freedom of expression. We are shamelessly and brainlessly aping the exhibitionist culture of the West. What happens in the process is inevitable. Woman becomes a commodity, a desirable object only. No wonder, in such a milieu, there are assaults on their dignity.
It is time that we drew the line firmly. How far are we prepared to go? Are we going to dump the Indian culture? Is the image of Sita and Savitri going to be banished? Are we going to replace them by Cindy Crawford and Pamela Anderson? Or, while accepting the liberal values of the West, are we going to arrive at a harmonious synthesis of progressive Western values with the traditional Indian attitude towards women?
But, have those, who matter and influence public opinion, the courage to arrive at a synthesis, or say “thus far and no further”. These days everyone likes to swim with the current, howsoever dirty it might be. At one stage, some BJP leaders like Sushma Swaraj took a stand against this trend towards vulgarity, but even they beat a hasty retreat in the face of cacophony raised by the intellectual tarts of the country. It seems to be a losing battle.
That being so, we might as well take the plunge. Feeble resistance, subdued protests or mild opposition are no good. If the Indian society has lost the will to uphold its cultural values and has succumbed to the temptations of a sexual revolu-tion of the Western God, then may God save the country.
(The writer is a former police chief and former DG, BSF.)