THE MOVING FINGER WRITES
By M.V. Kamath
What on earth is happening in India? Established values are collapsing like a house of cards and all that one heard from our intellectuals is a scream of laughter. The Congress is engulfed in a sea of scandals. The BJP is in no better position, as in Karnataka. And the less said about other parties, the better. No Congress leader in Delhi has deigned to resign, let alone apologise for the picture of Dr Manmohan Singh sitting pretty in his Prime Ministerial chair braving all charges of neglect and indifference to what is going on around him.
There is not a word of regret from the DMK or its leader Karunanidhi about the doings of A Raja. And now three Ministers of the Karnataka government have resigned, caught in the act of watching porn clips on their cell phones while attending a session of the Legislative Assembly. In Andhra Pradesh three IAS officers, along with nine others have been charged with criminal breach of trust, misappropriation of government property and cheating the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APTTC). Among the four IAS officers charged, ironically leads the Home Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Government, no less, the very man who supposedly is the administrator of law and order in the state! The charge sheet runs to over 1,000 pages! Actually Home Secretary BP Acharya is not the first IAS officer to be arrested. Already in jail is Industries Secretary Y Srilakshmi, also an IAS. The arrested have supposedly rendered the state exchequer poorer by Rs 43.5 crore.
In Mumbai, former Army Vice Chief, Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj has been booked by the CBI in a land dispute case, along with a private builder and a Defence Estate Officer on charges of criminal conspiracy and misconduct. Even the Judiciary seems to be slipping. In early February, the Supreme Court took strong exception to the tendency among litigants to attach opinions by former apex court judges during the hearing of a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in which the petitioner had annexed the opinion of five former Chief Justices in support of his case, apparently despite a disclaimer from the Justices that their opinions are not to be used in any court proceedings. Expressing his displeasure, one of the Supreme Court judges is quoted as saying “In this country no value is attached to the question of the honour of this Court. Everything melts before money”.
Then here is another sample of double talk. A report in the media says the Congress in Goa has welcomed into the party a former national secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) who had been arrested for illegal mining of iron ore and released on bail subsequently. Crime obviously pays. Money everywhere flows like flood water. In mid-January, unaccounted money to the tune of Rs 28.53 crore was seized from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the election and in Punjab a similar amount (Rs 23.7 crore) was seized by the Income Tax Department, that is chicken feed in the context of Rs 100 crore seized from a UP liquor baron reportedly close to Mayavati who had denied tickets to nearly half of the state’s sitting MLAs for reasons that are easily guessed. It is to this level of degradation that the country has been reduced. It is all very well for the three BJP MLAs in Karnataka to resign on charges of watching obscenity, but what are we doing when Facebook and Google are carrying objectionable content? The Karnataka Ministers were plain stupid but what are these two networking sites doing?
According to Press Council chairman Justice Markandey Katju, these sites should be ready to face legal action on failure to remove objectionable content uploaded on them. As he put it: “I have seen the content on these sites and found them to be highly objectionable, which may disrupt social harmony. If they fail to check these contents, they should be ready to face legal action”. According to Katju he totally supports the views of Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on the issue of regulating and putting a check on content of these social sites. The argument put forward by these sites is that it is not possible to remove objectionable content from being uploaded in huge quantity.
The question is : What is objectionable? How much of sex and peripheral subjects is permissible in any website? Or, for the matter, in the print media? A few weeks ago, a Kolkata daily published as many as nineteen pictures of bikini clad and voluptuous girls in one issue. Outlook (February 2) carried an ad for condoms—Kohinoor condoms. Ti shows a man and a woman looking hungrily at each other, sitting on a bed and the copy says: “Your day is long. Now your night will be long too. Take more time. Give more love. Presenting Kohinoor Xtra Time condoms. The climax-delay lubricant gives you more time every night. And help you keep your love-going on and on”. Very innocent ad, it will be argued. But how will a youngster still in his early teens view it? or is it part of the sex education that is marked out these days for the young?
Instead of focusing on porn clips, would the Ministers have been considered ill-behaved if they were paging through copies of Playboy or Debonair? What needs to be realized is that our society is going through an unprecedented cultural change. In an age of Contract Marriage, Live-ins and pre-marital sex and the like, having a peep at porn clips sounds like child’s play. And may it be remembered that conservatism and so-called hard-core Hindutva exist across parties and are not BJP-specific? One has to live in rural areas to understand it, as I do. The Sri Ram Sena is branded with opposing St Valentine Day and young women having drinks in pubs past midnight. In many parts of north India, parents are opposed to their daughters marrying out side their castes and there are instances reported of the killing of the couple.
Values in India are undergoing changes which are resented in many sections of our society. A clash, in such circumstances between no-changers and pro-changers is inevitable. Again, with money and power accumulation becoming societal standards, the moral deterioration of people across all segments is getting increasingly noticeable. The Marxist concept of change described in terms of Thesis, anti-Thesis, Synthesis is what we are witnessing. Old values are under siege; a new and settled society is yet to be formed. Sneering at No-Changers doesn’t take us anywhere. The process of change is inevitably painful and sometimes repugnant. The three Karnataka Ministers are not exceptional. They are part of the large army of porn-peepers. Some of whom can be found in all segments of our society, including the media.