Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Freedom, Secularism and....Violence?

I'm always been proud to be Indian and proud to be Hindu. This is a horrible way to start a post but just hear me out. Being Indian defines secularism to me and being Hindu speaks for freedom. People have often asked me what it means to be hindu. And I usually have no answer - because there is no 'way' for someone to be hindu. You are born that way and remain so. There are no set rituals that one must follow to be a practicing hindu and as far as I know (though I am no expert on the religion) there are no rules that God wrote apart from perhaps to be a good human being. Who then is the Sri Ram Sena and who made them God's Army as they call themselves? The only time Rama had a Sena was to fight evil - what evil is this sena fighting? They say they are trying to save indian and hindu culture but who gave them that job? They say they are doing what God would have wanted. But if their belief in God is so strong then why not let God do His own work. If God believes something is wrong He will do something about it. Why fulfill your disgusting agenda in the name of Ram?

What is Indian and Hindu culture anyway? I always thought it is about the freedom to be yourself and being able to respect everyone, no matter what their beliefs. We live in a democracy - why then are these random men, the self-proclaimed Rama's Army, going into bars and beating women? Apparently these women by drinking are not following Indian culture - so is it indian culture to beat women? I don't drink, I don't smoke - so I'm the last person in the world who will justify either. But I believe in freedom. Freedom to make choices, freedom to do what you want. How is it that such behavior is allowed in our free and secular country?

And now the threat around Valentine's Day. Sure it is something that has been imported from the west but why does that make it bad? Who are the Sri Ram Sena to dictate what is good and bad? They threaten that any boy and girl caught on a date will be taken to their parents and/or forced to be married. Or perhaps just beaten like the poor girls in Mangalore were. Why? What is so wrong about the day and so what if it is something that was brought in from the west? If we started to reject everything western in India wouldnt we still be stuck in the 18th century? What about the car that Pramod Muthalik sits in when going to make these ridiculous speeches and the phone he uses when making his threats? Wasn't at least part of that technology brought in from somewhere else? What do they expect? Of course things are going to be brought in from the west.

But forget the west. What is it about Valentines Day that bothers them so? That girls and guys shouldnt be talking to each other, shouldnt date, shouldnt be in love? Isn't the oldest love story I have heard of - that of Radha and Krishna - part of hindu culture? How many stories have we heard of them meeting as teenagers? Don't get me wrong - I am not trying to be derogatory here. All I am trying to say is that to love and be in love is part of hindu culture. Just because a certain 'day' was brought in from the west, does not make the idea of two people being in love western.

When I hear of these things I get scared. To ban women from going into a bar. To dictate to women what they must wear. To scare women away from talking to another male (in a society where men and women are now viewed as equal). Isn't it how it all started in Afghanistan? I am not trying to say that the Sri Ram Sena is the Taliban - but what makes them different? Thankfully India is a democracy and will always remain so but isn't the thought scary?

When India is progressing so fast and the whole world's eyes are on it, what impact do stories like these have on the west?

All that apart, what I care most about is freedom. The freedom to love. The freedom to be. The freedom to live. And I love this new campaign - .

1 comment:

Amrita said...

Good on you Megz!! All this 'Ram Sena' nonsense has to stop. This is getting ridiculous. Nowhere in the 'scriptures' does it define what it is to be a good 'Indian' because being Indian has nothing to do with Ram or Sita or anyone - Indian does not mean Hindu. And, more importantly, violence is not condoned by ANYONE! Especially violence against women. I say drown em in pink chaddis!
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