India Uncut

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No kissing in Chennai please

The moral police lashes out in Chennai. It all started when a regional newspaper published pictures of some people kissing in a party, alongside an article that was a tirade against "obscenities [that] are happening on daily basis [sic] in the five star hotels." Then the cops swung into action and arrested a couple of employees of the hotel where the party was held and, in the Hindu's words, "warned hotel managements that their permit would be terminated if they violated licence conditions by organising obscene dance programmes on their premises."

Chenthil has more here and here, and Kaps and Wicked Angel also weigh in. Also, here's the original Tamil article, with pictures, that began the uproar.

You see anything wrong in those pictures? I don't.

This is one more episode in the ongoing saga of illiberal backlashes that India is facing today. Will all this take us backwards, or will we stride on regardless? I'm optimistic, but also worried. There's much more at stake here than the right to snog.

Update (September 29): Reader K Balakumar writes in:
[T]his [moral policing] has been the norm in the state for the last two decades or so. And that has been mainly because of the Dravidian parties that have ridden rough shod over every institution in the state.

The Dravidians parties of all the hues (DMK, AIADMK, MDMK) have always used cunning demagoguery and have used words like 'Tamil culture' and 'Tamil pride' to garner votes. While [the] Shiv Sena has rightly been criticised for practising such rabid parochialism elsewhere, these parties have just got away with murder for the simple reason both the Congress and the BJP have found them useful at the Centre (all these TN parties have been part of the coalition governments of all hues at the Centre).

Now PMK, another local party that is part of the Union government, has also joined this brigade. This is proving to be the most illiberal of all.


My personal grouse is against the media. While it assails Shiv Sena's [behaviour] at every turn, it doesn't use the same vehemence when it comes to DMK, PMK and the like. We all get to know when the vandals of SS strike. But the PMK has been going blackening boards with English words. Does anybody know these things outside Tamil Nadu? Does anybody really bother to ask how these Tamil parties have managed to find themselves in whichever dispensation is at the Centre?
Good questions. Also, Bruno Mascarenhas writes in quoting a Tamil proverb:
One who is jaundiced sees everything yellow.
amit varma, 11:57 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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