Thursday, July 7, 2011

Moral Policing in India

As if Indian politics wasn’t murky enough, moral policing in India took a bizarre turn when on Sunday night Mumbai police detained 31 youths for ‘Dirty Dancing’ at Oro Lounge at Malad. Furthermore the police fined them Rs. 1200/- for indecent behavior under Bombay Police Act.  While the police justify their action – thought absurd - on moral grounds, apparently the reason for the raid in itself was to check on the owners of the lounge for having a deejay without adequate permissions.  TOI in its Wednesday edition reported Tiff between officer, local cops led to raid? So here may be another example of how innocent citizens who were at the wrong place at the wrong time may have had to face the brunt of the police simply because they seemed as an easy target. This time around though the netizens have attacked back on facebook . The community had 517 followers on last count.    

So who decides the morals in the first place and why does it always apply to citizens only.  Why can’t someone come up with morals to follow in the parliament or at an election rally? The level of politics in India has plummeted into such darkness that    (right, left, center or whichever way you see it) that it almost seem a prerogative of the powerful to abscond from things too obnoxious to deserve a mention.

What about moral policing the authorities?  The recent development in regards to the Lokpal Bill should serve as a wakeup call to the government;  after all it’s only a kind of moral policing that they are doing. Let’s assume for a while now that the incident reported by the police was correct and they took the action that they very much vindicate. So why only this incident caught the eye of the Mumbai Police ?   How much fine have you collected from ‘munni ’ and ‘sheela’ ? After all they were caught on camera.   Or maybe you can raid high profile new year parties at some of the famous five star hotels and fine some business honchos or a few celebrities. That should test their resolve 

Since I referred to the civil society movement to get the Lokpall Bill passed undiluted as a sort of moral policing I must mention that a certain level of morals and ethics should be maintained by the society in general – without the self-portrayed wardens of Indian society taking a bite at it. I shall recall some incidents like when media had once reported that an Indian lady was not allowed inside Taj for wearing Indian footwear. Sometimes the judiciary and the government are helpless over such issues where a private organization which is at liberty to decide on a dress code for itself  might end up discriminating against some Indian formalwear. The media and a few eminent speakers had then campaigned against the hotel and the rules were made to change. This intervention by the society was needed to maintain a more inclusive atmosphere at the hotel. 

This is also very evident in most of the educational institution across India.  The admission season is currently on, if you go around the city you will find admission forms selling from somewhere around Rs 1000 to Rs 2500 and that doesn’t even guarantee an admission. A private organisation is free to charge any sum for the services they offer but what service are they providing in selling admission forms? And the kind of money they are demanding cannot be justified. This is complete blackmail and the police or the government cannot take any action against this. It is here – where the society in general in suffering – that morals and ethics need to be expounded. Moral policing is different from deciding what an individual’s behavior should be or what kind of clothes women wear or dance choreography for that matter. The industry violates many aspects of ethicality and morals on a daily basis. We need the public to voice their opinions and curb them. When such incidents are revealed very few voices are heard. Where are the moral police?? 

Moral Policing is different from dress code policing or cultural policing.


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