There is something sickening about the media'spre-occupation with sex. Forget the semi?nudes that the television channels?and advertisements?present for public viewing. Even the print media is now becoming increasingly sex-conscious as if it needs to apologies for not raising the subject earlier. Sunday Express Magazine (October 28) devoted an entire section to?what else??Sex. And what'sthe excuse? As Bishwanath Ghosh, the Sunday editor noted: ?We like talking about sex, but we don'tlike our people to know that we are talking about?. That'shypocrisy, Ghosh chuckled. That's why, he added ?we?ve decided to talk about it?and openly. So stroll through the pages, and have fun!?.
So what did one see during that ?stroll? (Page 1 is devoted to an article by one Dr D. Narayana Reddy on the changing times as seen through the career-graph of a sexologist. Dr Reddy refers to a scientific study made in India of the sexual habits of Indians. The data indicated that while the public stance of Indians ?appeared to be conservative?, in private ?they were sexually innovative and were willing to be unconventional?. As Dr Reddy put it: ?Our ancestors never considered sex as something to be ashamed of. They considered sex to be centrally essential to life?. Dr Reddy, incidentally, is Adjunct Professor of Reproductive Endocrinology and Sexual Medicine attached to the University of Madras. Page 2 carries the heading: Women on top. It is all about music.
According to an article by V. Sriram ?it was not entirely a man's world in classical music and poetry when it came to depicting the oldest emotion?. But who said that it is solely a man'sworld? Page 4 has an article on politicians who are polygamous. It says, among other things: ?It is very difficult to find a successful veshti-clad politician in Tamil Nadu who does not have more than one wife. At one time the Tamil Nadu cabinet had only two or three monogamous Ministers?. According to the author of the article ?most tales of lust remain untold to the public?. But some tales are told anyway. Importantly another writer on the same page, Anita Nair, has an article entitled ?Confessions of a Writer of Sex Parts?. Interesting article, one must say. Page 5 talks about ?Strangers in the Night??a seductive title which lives up to its reputation. It would beat Kamasutra any day (or night).
Incidentally, does any one know that Chandigarh has a Condom Bar where a sign displayed says: ?Free Condoms?. And the copy adds: ?Enjoy Safety. Don'tjust get on! Get it on!?. Sound advice, no doubt. We are further informed that condom usage can be traced back to 1000 BC when ancient Egyptians wore linen sheaths. Page 6 is better structured. It tells thirty ways to ?get your body, mind and soul in the mood? noting that ?Ayurveda insists that dawn sets the mood for sex and that'sreally the best time of day to go about it?. Page 7 discusses artistes and how they deal with sensuality ?as a way of life?. Vatsayana may well be envious of the writer of the article. Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, the renowned flautist is quoted as saying that he can'thelp remembering Radha and the vastraharan episode in Mahabharata whenever he performs the sringara rasa. There is reference to Gita Govinda which deals with the romance between Radha and Krishna. Notes the writer: ?Chaurasia should know. After all, he plays the flute?the centre of erotica in the rasalila.? Page 8 carries an article by Bishwanath Ghosh on?what else??Khajuraho ?with a renewed appreciation of our forefathers?. The man is truthful. But the question arises: are Indians hypocrites? Well, that is for all Indians to answer.
The Indian Express is nothing if not provocative, whether in the language it uses or the headings it gives. Take, for example, the front page heading it gave to the story of Deve Gowda pulling down the Yeddyurappa government (November 20). It said everything in one word: Betrayer in 60 pt. black type, covering six columns. Deccan Herald on the same day carried the same story in a seven column heading which said: ?Yeddy quits, Prez rule likely?. The Hindu also carried a 7-column heading which said, more modestly, but still accurately: Yuddyurappa quits rather than face trust vote. The Times of India was in the marriage mode. Its heading said: Remarriage snaps in 7 days.
Now consider how each paper started its story. Said The Times of India: ?Bangalore: In another twist to the story of a political matrimony running amok, the JD(S)-BJP's week-long reunion broke with the resignation of B.S.Yeddyurappa as chief minister?. Mind here two things: following the new style there is no hyphen between re and union. And the ?c? in chief and ?m? in minister are in lower case.
The Hindu opened its story differently. It said; ?Bangalore: ?The eight-day old Bharatiya Janata Party led-coalition government in Karnataka collapsed on Monday after Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa faced with the withdrawl of support by the Janata Dal (Secular) decided to quit rather than face a trust vote in the Assembly?. The ?C? in Chief and ?M? in Minister are in capitals. Deccan Herald went thus: ?Bangalore: Karnataka is all set to go under another spell of President'srule after the seven-day-old BJP-led government collapsed on Monday?. But The Indian Express went after Deve Gowda in a big way. Its report said: ?Bangalore, November 19: On a cloudy Monday morning, former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda did what he was good at: betray. Just a day after his son and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had assured the BJP that the government will sail through during the trust vote, the big daddy stepped in and issued a whip against the one-line confidence vote moved by Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa. The week-old BJP Government was put on the deathbed and Gowda vanished to Delhi?. The paper, it seems, is not sure whether the ?c? and ?m? in Chief Minister should be in capital or lower case. The letter ?g? in government is used both in capital and lower case.
Most newspapers these days do not give the date-line. The Indian Express does. And thank God for it. Reading newspapers these days leaves one perplexed. When should one use the hyphen? When should words like government, chief minister, etc. be spelt with the first letter in capitals? The Times of India often uses the letter ?I? as in ?I am going? in lower case, thus: ?i am going?. No doubt the paper'seditors have no ego left in them. The Editor (if there is one) is only an editor. A lesson, no doubt, in humility.