I just received an email. It was from an unknown person, so most of us would regard it spam. However, this unknown person has been sending me mails for quite a few months – it may be even over a year, if I remember right. The mails usually comprise a petition to sign to the chief minister or the head of an organisation to stop something that a group of people believes is ethically wrong. To cite an example: Save the Olive Ridley Turtles! Write to the Orissa CM to take action!
One of the petitions demanded that MTV stop a contest where they ask the viewer to identify an actor/actress by looking at their body. The show is called Guess Who. The contest has pictures of actors and actresses and the viewer’s job is to be supposed to guess who they are.
The contest looks mild enough when you compare it to other ads that India has seen. Take the 18-Again or the new Skore condom ad that came around the same time as the Delhi gang rape. Compared to them, MTV’s contest looks mild.
But this is not about MTV, 18-Again or Skore. One thing is for certain. If we go ahead and introduce strict censorship rules, the junta always manages to find its way around it. If we are to draw comparisons, it is for this very reason that Gujarat records the highest alcohol sales. People do not go to Daman. They acquire their liquor in Ahmedabad, Surat or Baroda. I recall a friend, who studied at MICA, telling me that they had a bootlegger located a few kilometres from their hostel campus. One night, they went to procure some alcohol from him with one of the people in the group wearing a pair of shorts. The bootlegger allegedly refused to sell them the booze because the man was in shorts. His reason: I am a respected man. How can you come here in shorts?
When my friend told me this story, I refused to believe him, but then others, who were part of this incident, corroborated it.
What does this say about Indian society? That it is okay to sell alcohol illegally, but it is wrong to wear a pair of shorts? Going by that theory, the RSS, and the BJP, which dominate Gujarat politics, should make serious changes to its uniform.
The truth is people from the Indian subcontinent are a bunch of hypocrites. We employ a set of rules on ourselves and believe that the world outside should believe what we want. Take self-proclaimed godman Asaram Bapu for example. He made statements that the Delhi gang-rape victim was equally responsible for her fate, which raised quite a storm. The same man has a case of murder registered against him. This is what a major part of India is like today.
Another example, of course, is the Jessica Lal case. Manu Sharma went scot-free in the beginning because of his father’s political connection. It was the media that raised the issue, which turned things for the Lal family. Lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who defended Manu Sharma, even criticised the media for ‘vilifying’ his client.