Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Moral Policing in India?

Over the last many months, I have had this growing feeling in the back of my mind that there is a growing trend of moral policing in India, and most evidently in my state, Tamil Nadu. This article today ticked me off. Let me present the exhibits first on why I think such.

Exhibit A: A South Indian Actress Khushboo makes some remarks on pre-marital sex to a magazine. While you may or may not agree with what she is saying, she is definitely entitled to that opinion and she has a right to say it. She was labeled a 'anti-social' and her remarks were labeled 'against public order'. She apologised over and over again. She was sued in many courts and is still facing those lawsuits. Suhasini, a fellow actress also endured lawsuits for defending Khushboo.

Exhibit B: Private citizens who were married to each other were seen kissing each other inside a bar inside the Park Hotel Chennai where they were staying. Photographers from an evening newspaper 'sneaked' into the hotel and to the bar and snapped their pictures and published them in their newspapers. Following that publication, police, instead of going after the newspaper for invading the privacy of those photographed, the Hotel's licence was revoked and arrested the hotel manager and the bar's manager under Section 294 of IPC (Obscene Acts and Songs to the Annoyance of Others in any Public Place). How they defined a bar inside a hotel as a public place is beyond me.

Exhibit C: Students, particularly girl students, of the prestigious Anna University, Chennai are not allowed to wear jeans to college and the chancellor imposed other dress code regulations. Ofcourse, students were furious but they couldn't do much.

Exhibit D: Any indian movie released now-a-days has to satisfy certain political groups - otherwise they would end up boycotting (read: rioting) the movie and the halls playing those movies.

Exhibit E: This is what made me write this post. Apparently now you need permission from the government for a movie so that they can make sure that you dont demean the government or the armed forces.

If you see who's behind most if not all of these incidents it always ends up at these extremist organisations -- such as DPI, PMK, RSS & VHP which play a major role in Indian political system. PMK is even part of the central government.

And it's not that this has just started. It has been going on for years but recently it has been turned way up. I am not even going to start putting down my arguments as to why this is wrong, and where is this leading us to, and what it will eventually result in. All I ask is this:

If we, as Indians, police our society's morality -- telling them what they can or cannot wear, what they can or cannot say -- particularly women, how are we different from those kingdoms (like say, Saudi Arabia, Iraq), where they do similar moral policing?

I rest my case.


  1. I agree! This is because the intellectuals sulk while the goondas rule. By merely protesting with a handful these people make it appear that the whole of Tamilnadu is behind them.

    Take the movie name issue which is hardly anything to do with public. The same protagonists seem to spare SUN TV! Is SUN TV a tamil name?

    Take Kushboo, I am sure the majority support her are there but silent but the minority who despise her rational thinking are ones who make a lot of noise. Tamilnadu marumagaluku mamanar kodumai!

    Take moral policing, who are the police to judge what people should do. It is like being in taliban!

    Unless we raise our voice equally against these people we will only be hoodwinked by these goondas. College students have a lot of power. If they could create an association to fight against these goondas that will find my whole hearted support!

  2. i completely agree. i guess it comes frm havin a government which has all elements like commies , democrats , seculars... so they end up trying to please evryone just so that they are still in power....

  3. i completely agree. i guess it comes frm havin a government which has all elements like commies , democrats , seculars... so they end up trying to please evryone just so that they are still in power....

  4. So What can we do about it?

  5. Re Sumit

    I don't see what having a centre left government has to do with it. Moral policing was not lower under the previous government. In fact they even banned DD newsreaders from wearing sleeveless blouses. I mean have you seen the DD newsreaders. Do you think their wearing sleeveless blouses could possible give rise to evil thoughts??

    There is no middle ground with censorship though. the other extreme is the US where you can say pretty much anything you want and be protected by the first amendment

  6. Red,

    I dont think it has to do with a particular government. But if you see who's behind most of these atrocious acts, there are these usual suspects.

    It also has to do with a fact that there's no way for the affected person to take recourse. Do you know what happened to the hotel manager who got arrested? No. Because, media has stopped reporting on it. I am sure that poor guy/gal must be still going to the court to fight those cases that they filed on him/her. If you ask me, the victim (hotel manager) should sue the police for improper arrest.

    As to what we can do about it. We should make the general public aware of what's really happening here and tell them they shouldn't let this happen. Grassroot level education & exposure-to-the-real-forces-behind would be a good start.

  7. Counter-publicity like counter-terrorism is one way. Whenever moral policing happens a forum should be formed that is able to protest as much to generate equal publicity. This will enable people to see both sides of the coin.

    Even the Kushboo episode we see slowly people coming to support her (e.g. AP assembly, surprisingly communists, etc)

  8. having mixed elements in the government results ina distorted outlook towards the society . what satrs offas a clash of ideologies or sometimes EGO cilminates as MORAL POLICING... take the banning of FIRE orpbms faced while shooting for WATEr it was merely a clash of egos between the director and the so callled "moral police"... or sometimes the government pitches the idea of ancient indian culture or the "HINDU" culture to twit arms... this all is done because a majority of the society still has the narrow outlook. so, a confused gov leads to ANARCHy at the grass root level.

  9. what we can do abt it?
    well it has to start with makin ppl understand that every1 has the freedom of expression... be it religion or be it opinions the best way to do so is over an unjepodised medium(eg: the internet).. then EXTREMIST ideologies shud not be debated to undersatnd the crux of it(whether it is political or misinterprtation of religion). one way out is to DE-COUPLE lack politics and policing.

  10. mistake:
    then EXTREMIST ideologies shud not be debated to undersatnd the crux of it(whether it is political or

    then EXTREMIST ideologies SHUD BE debated to undersatnd the crux of it(whether it is political or

  11. why isnt there any activity on this thread

  12. hi..
    cant say i agree more. moral policing is growin at such a fast pace that it is scary.being a gal i kinnda feel the preasure.my college rule says modesty in dressing.no where in the rule books do they say no to sleeveless and things like tat.but there are a few narrow minded staff members who see to it tat sleeveless and thing like tat are not allowed.wat can v do/college autonomy can be scary 2..

  13. The real question is:

    How to stop this?

    There are organizations who create their own understanding of so-called 'Indian Culture' and then try to impose those understandings on us.

    If we refer to Indian History, we can understand that this understanding of Indian History was spread by Britishers. They had a clear intention of banning freedom of expression for their own benefits. Unfortunately, the organizations like VHP and PMK are still following the same approach. Though other intentions of these organizations may be good, they need to promote the Indian Culture during glorious time of India i.e. before British period, if they are really concerned about 'Indian Culture'. They should study Kamasutra, they should study Mujhra culture and understand the importance of all these to Indian Society.

  14. Hey buddy. This is Shabbir from Chennai. I am a student. Currently I am reading a lot about stuff you pointed out as Exhibit A and C. If you are not into something at the moment. mail me. beckalwayz4u@gmail.com

  15. Not only these but moral policing is setting india a set back in the eyes of world. Companies will not like to invest in indian market if these kind of practices are allowed. These politicians are not doing anything for country but spoiling India's image. Such politicians should not be voted... I request to indian voters to not to vote for such parties and people, if it happens in India then we won't be different from muslim countries where religion is more important than growth of country, freedom and residents.