The affluent, lawless, conservative Indian

 India is on a roll, economically. In a year from now, there will be two malls within walking distance of my home and in all six malls in my locality. Sedans outnumber small cars these days on Mumbai roads during rush hour. Even beggars seem to have different sets of clothes. Things couldn’t get better,right? Wrong. Look at the other side. Sex ratios in many states, particularly Punjab, couldn’t be more skewed. The increasing number of rape crimes is justified in some quarters as a reaction to the dress sense of the victims. Riots, protests and hooliganism break out at the most trivial of provocations. Courts are busy attending to PILs against acts purported to be immoral and vulgar and generally detrimental to society. There is a paradox of economic prosperity and increasing intolerance in society for each other and any kind of differences between persons.

   Conventional wisdom says that with greater economic prosperity, people would seek to upgrade their standards of living, better educate themselves and move from traditional value-sets to accomodate the changed economic scenario. The opposite appears to be true for India. With money, people want to impose their value-sets on their neighbourhoods and to hell with the rest.

  In Mumbai, the Indian fountain of liberalism, if you are any one of these kinds of people, you could have problems getting a place to stay. I’m not saying nobody will accomodate you, BUT that you could be in for some tiresome hunting and some rude words as well:

  • If you are a meat-eater, as the fanatical veggies call them.
  • If you have dogs as pets, particularly big, scary ones like Alsatians, Dobermanns and Great Danes.
  • If you are female and single and don’t live with your parents.
  • If you are in the modelling or acting profession (yes! Bollywood seems to be unwelcome in its own den)

   The list could go on, but this illustrates my point. There is widespread intolerance for ‘kinds’ of people and ‘kinds’ of behaviour. Entire apartment complexes are being dedicated to single linguistic or religious communities. You could get pulled up for lip contact with the opposite sex at the Marine Drive. So, what’s my problem with that? Well, does anybody pull up love-making dogs for the same ‘crime’?

    OK, OK, I heard your protests. My point is this kind of moral policing and intolerance is justified as being for the greater good of society. Oh, really!!! A schoolteacher in Mumbai has ensured that you cannot watch A-rated movies on TV channels as it spoils the kids. So what are filmmakers doing? Getting the censor board to pass all movies as U or U/A. Already, Vettaiyadu Vilayadu, the Tamil blockbuster was released with a U/A certificate. How? I mean, when I watched Lost World as a kid in a cinema hall, ‘homo’ meant one and only thing to me – homo sapiens!!!!! Missie, you have only given the censor board and the multiplex owners a new source of income.

     That is not all. When obstacles to one’s course are sought to be removed, people don’t seem to have any qualms about breaking the law. In Mumbai, of late, signals are being broken with alarming regularity. Some enterprising autorickshaw drivers even hoodwink the traffic cops and jump right under their nose. Educated, middle class people break queues at railway counters. As far as I can tell, I have stood in longer queues than the ones that they tried to break. But, these days deadline comes foremost, to hell with some stupid rules. Whoever invented them must be shot!

    This ponderous combination of wealth, intolerance and anarchy can be put down to that Shakespearan line, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. Today, Indians are well-fed, secure and comfortable. But rather than eating to our hearts’ content, we are paranoid that we may go hungry again.  That one day, we may have to trade our brand new duplexes, sedans, Plasma TVs et al for chawls, overflowing local trains and transistors again. And anything that goes against the norm is seen as a threat to our new-found prosperity and nipped in the bud. Dissent is no longer seen as a symbol of a healthy democracy, rather the perpetrator of dissent is viewed as an enemy and assaulted.

   For me, the new wave of intolerance in Mumbai, specifically, is a cause of concern. Mumbai keeps going on without rest only because its citizens are tolerant of each others’ presence around them. I shudder to think what would happen if everybody hurls abuses at each other when they rub shoulders inadvertently in crowded trains. Such physical contact is generally unavoidable due to the cramped conditions and if the unavoidable needs to be avoided, we are heading for disaster. Again, it is said that in ten years time, 50% of Indians will live in cities. What will be the reaction of the new migrants to the liberal value-sets in cities? Since they will likely outnumber long-time residents of the cities, will they attempt to force their conservative values on the cities instead of embracing the new world? Already, our cities are reflecting this trend to an extent as the new prosperous migrants who made it without the struggle and sweat their predecessors underwent in harder times are less inclined to take the city’s culture in their stride, forget about being a part of it. No, they build their own exclusive enclaves, their cocoons of comfort to get away from the mean city-people. And when they meet more of their ilk, they join hands and take the fight to the enemy camp.

      And so our shining, world beating India is making headlines everyday: for riots, for rape cases, for road accidents, for murders and for PILs. Let’s all raise a toast to the good times that we live in. Continue day-dreaming, India!!!

P.S: In case you think this is outrageous and unpatriotic, arise from your slumber, dude. I care!

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5 Responses to “The affluent, lawless, conservative Indian”

  1. gautham Says:

    hey bro..so u finally landed here…blog on man..

  2. Madan Says:

    Thks, bro, but say sumthing about dis as well. As I ssaid, compliments n criticism r both welcome. But say sumthing.

  3. gautham Says:

    nowadays i think madras’s more liberal than bombay…that screwin up of cable operators was all crap, then they banned dance bars… its not that bad, but bombay is not what it was some 15 years back..compared to the rest of the country…nowadays, not only shivsena but all parties are on the conservative side of viewing thngs..

  4. Madan Says:

    Vanga saar, Madras angle vanduducha? Madras is improving and Bombay’s liberalism is under pressure from certain religious and linguistic groups who don’t seem to want to have anything to do with the very word. And they’re unfortunately convinced beyond all doubt that what they’re doing is right, so there seems to be no way to change their attitude. I refuse to name these communities only because, unlike them, I think it’s pointless to antagonize a community as a whole based on some bad experiences. Terrorism doesn’t help the situation either. But all said and done, Bombay still beats every other Indian city on what is considered the final test of any city’s liberalism: the safety of its women. Despite the impression created by the rape cases being reported, women are still able to return home late into the night without any fear in Bombay. I’m talking about such ungodly hours as 2 or 3 A.M. There’s still a positive attitude towards life in general in Bombay and that’s why it still keeps going on. But what will it be like 10 years from now? Can’t say. With all the flyovers and now the metro, it will probably be a much better city than now infrastructure wise, but will the liberalism still remain? About rest of the nation, I can’t agree, sorry. As I have mentioned in the blog, it is infact the influx of immigrant attitudes that seems to hurt metros, particularly Bombay. Immigrant attitudes come from rest of the nation., right? Make no mistake, if you are wealthy and powerful in Mumbai, you can do as you please, nobody’ll stop you. Money talks before everything else here. It’s only in the middle class that these attitudinal problems have crept in. Hopefully, people from our generation will have no time unlike our elders for all this value-nonsense and change attitudes again. Letz c.
    As for Shiv Sena calling for Pak to be banned entry in Bombay, I fully endorse them this time. The govt is shameless in allowing a terrorist nation’s cricket team inside. Any Pakis reading this, a million apologies, but ur General had no business to say the things he did. Now itz very difficult for India to trust Pak for anything. Why is the tournament so friggin’ important for everybody when so many people died in the 7/7 blasts and the govt has done nothing about it? On top if it, now there’s a demand for a Kashmiri terrorist to be pardoned, bcoz bacche ko malum nahi tha ki wo bum phek raha tha, b*** s**t. We shouldn’t even support Pak in the Darrel Hair case, have they ever supported us or Sri Lanka for similar incidents? I know Shiv sena just rewinds and plays the same tape everytime Pak comes to India. But this time, therez a justification. Let ICC penalise India or derecognise Brabourne, but we shudn’t submit to those buggers. Infact, if I knew who are going to go to dig up the pitch, I have half a mind to join them. Yup, Rang De Basanti is still fresh in the mind. If that’s the only way to make ur point to the govt, so be it.
    Anyway, G2G. C u around
    TC
    Madan

  5. Plasma TV Says:

    excellant insight, made a refreshing change.
    Keep them coming 🙂

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