Valentine's Day may have nothing whatsoever to do with the original Saint Valentine, but even he would be shocked to learn that it has been held up by a certain section of people as an "international conspiracy against Indian culture" . It was the Shiv Sena yesterday, the Ram Sene today and God knows which army tomorrow. As of writing this post, a crackdown on Ram Sene has ensured that no untoward incidents have happened, but these events beg a larger question: how come these guys are allowed to roam around even after assaulting innocent people, while the ordinary junta get arrested just for slandering Sonia Gandhi.
Animal Farm put it succintly: All are equal, but some are more equal than others. If tomorrow someone went and beat up Pramod Mutalik saying that he posed a threat to personal freedom, he wouldn't see the the outside of a prison cell for the rest of his life, but the aforesaid person can orchestrate his 'protection of Indian culture' charade without interruption. But for the really crucial issues of bijli, sadak, paani and suraksha, the lion is nowhere to be seen. Mr Mutalik, did you read the part of every Hindu text where it tells you to treat every woman with respect as you would treat your mother, or the portion where it asks you to respect other cultures? Nowhere does it give you, or anyone else for that matter, the authority to act as custodian for Indian culture. Can you blame today's youth for losing faith in the system, when the system itself is Orwellian in nature?
A large portion of the blame for the current situation can be put on the media. When the press heard of the Mangalore pub incident, they rushed to the spot before alerting the police, so that they could get the footage of the assault. The rise of Mutalik and his cronies can solely be attributed to the television agencies. Every intelligent person knows that Mutalik's actions are publicity stunts, so what is the point of throwing meat before the hungry lion by repeatedly airing his comments, holding "discussions" and garnering "expert opinions"? If half of this airtime or energy were to be spent in serious exposes... But who will chase the hidden truths, when cheap freebies are available everywhere?
Valentine's Day is also my friend's birthday, so Happy Birthday to her. My best wishes to all the couples for whom this day is an occasion to celebrate their love and togetherness. My only regret today: I won't see the Ram Sene chief's face when his pink chaddies are delivered to him.