Monday, December 17, 2007

What's Love Got To Do With It?

A New Year is around the corner and one of the first western festivals that we will be celebrating in the New Year (apart from New Year’s Day itself) will be Valentine’s Day. Now this has long been the eyesore for a multitude of Indians and they have been worried about immorality and the western concept of love infiltrating our culture. Of course, all Indian love stories are exempt from any compliance with morality (as defined today by the masses – dating included FYI) and are above and beyond all verification. Why don’t we begin with the Mahabharata – the book most Indians will swear by:

While on a hunting trip, King Dushyant of the Puru dynasty meets the hermit-girl Shakuntala. They fall in love with each other and, in the absence of her father, Shakuntala weds the king in a ceremony of 'Ghandharva', a form of marriage by mutual consent with mother Nature as the witness.

Today, the concept of being in love and love marriage is looked down upon by our society as they cry foul for the loss of culture. Would they care enough to look into their past and realize that we inherited that tendency from the supposed foremost ancestors – Dushyant and Shakuntala – whose son gave this country its name: Bharat.

What’s this got to do with Human Rights, you ask?

In a series of incidents in the city of Nagpur a few years ago, the city’s self-proclaimed moral police – a bunch of hooligans professing to be saviours of Indian culture (read Hindu Culture) – went on rampage in the city’s parks. As part of their crusade for culture, they would catch hold of young couples sitting in these parks and abuse them both verbally and physically. The boys were beaten more than once. The girls were insulted. And the city was entertained/horrified (as the case may be) as the newspapers carried a chronicle of this drive.

What was worse was that the protectors of the people – the Police Force – were playing privy to these hoodlums (so what’s new about that?!). They would go about in those Khaki uniforms (now more a symbol of terror than anything else) driving away or abusing these kids who had probably come there to have a quiet conversation or watch a sunset together over the beautiful Ambazari Lake. In fact a few days later, there was a notice in the papers that the Police will not appreciate seeing couples in parks and public places anymore and they will be dealt with stringently.

I now want you to read the following articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights -

Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 12
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

The behaviour of the moral police and the police force was in direct violation of Articles 5 and 12 above. Even girls were not spared. And the fact that visiting parks and public places together was prohibited for those out on a date came in conflict with Article 13. In addition to being a mockery of human rights as recognized by the United Nations, this whole episode came in the way of an undeniable need of man as a social animal – to love and to be loved. It is the absence of this emotion – love – that causes all violations of Human Rights in the first place.

If a person is stripped of the basic right to love someone and spend time with them, if one has to undergo physical abuse and indignation as punishment for loving someone, if love becomes an embarrassment for the way you are treated in public by hardly educated hooligans and not a principle to uphold, no Human Rights Charter can save humanity.

And you ask, What’s Love Got To Do With It?

You can access the Human Rights Charter here:

About the writer: Anupama Kondayya is a software consultant by profession. She is a writer by passion and has utter faith in the power of the spoken and written word. Her other interests include reading, singing and travelling.


Sur said...

hey I've been absconding for quite sometime, so read this one just now. Even I wonder about this, that how Indian society became so narrow minded? This reminds me of the ghotuls in Bastar where unmarried men and women are encouraged to live together and find their life partners, and we call ourselves modern.

Aditi aka Jiggs said...

this so called moral police should be checked for morals 'if they have any',cz if they do then they wont resort to all this.
India still has a big chunk of ppl who are narrow minded, and i guess its gona remain
but its upto them to draw a line btw their morals n respect others

Sowmya said...

Since there is so much incongruence between the India of the past and the India of today, one may wonder if the society then was right or the society today.

I believe very strongly that the society of the past was perfect. Of course the society that WAS before the decaying began. I believe that THAT society is above and beyond verification..... or if there is a need for verification, WE are not good enough to carry it out.

When I say decaying, I refer to the Sati system, Dowry syatem, Disempowered women...and all those problems.

A lot of modern Indians who love to indulge in self deprecatory talk about our culture, frequently use the Sati or Dowry system without knowing that these were never a part of our culture.