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The Shameful Reality Behind ‘Progressive’ India

The Shameful Reality Behind ‘Progressive’ India

On Sunday 16 December 2012 a 23-year old was gang-raped and brutally beaten with an iron rod for about 45 minutes on a Delhi bus. The crime was so animalistic that NDTV news channel has reported that the woman has had to undergo surgery for two hours to have almost her entire intestines removed. The doctors have kept her in the intensive care of Safdarjang Hospital, having lamented that this was one of the most extreme cases of rape they had ever witnessed. The woman, who has had multiple surgeries, was brought to the hospital late on Sunday night with her intestines ruptured and injury marks all over her body.

Having been gang-raped and beaten for almost an hour as the privately owned bus she had boarded to go home cruised around south Delhi. Her male friend, a 28-year old software engineer, was also beaten with the iron rod. After raping and torturing her they threw the woman and her friend out of the bus on a flyover where they were later both found unconscious. Even after she regained consciousness, the student was unable to speak and was scribbling messages for doctors and nurses.. Four men, including the driver of the bus, have been arrested in the case.

The woman meanwhile continues to battle for her very life. Her engineer friend meanwhile has been so traumatised that he is planning to leave Delhi for his hometown in Uttar Pradesh. This tragic case comes only months after another horrific sex attack, this time in Gauhati, capital of Assam.

On 8 July a mob of 40 men sexually molested and attempted to rape a girl by chasing her and tearing her clothes off. The attack continued even when she was inside the supposed sanctuary of a police van.

Angry MPs have demanded the death penalty for the rapists, and protests and candlelight vigils have been held in the capital. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has vowed to make the city safer for its women, including increased patrolling of routes used often by women at night. Yet over 630 rapes have taken place this year and police offer women scant protection. In fact they are often part of the problem. Despite the protests and vigils the problem is only going to get worse because the issue is not being looked at source. Sexual harassment is rife. Now rape and this sort of pestering have always taken place. So why the increase? It is also important to realise that these are only the cases that get reported. How many more are actually taking place?

The Romans called it ‘bread and circuses’. Keep the masses happy and they will be complacent. This meant happiness of the crudest type. Free bread and entertainment in the amphitheatre, with chariot races, gladiator contests and unarmed human beings being eaten alive by wild beasts. Pornography is a phenomenon which would have seemed bizarre to the ancient Romans. Excavations at Pompey have revealed house murals with couples engaged in brazen sexual acts. Entertainment was no different. The rich ordered their slaves to perform live sexual intercourse for the benefit of their masters.

That was when they were not being raped by members of the household, powerless chattels that they were. According to the poet Martial, the masses who lived in grinding poverty they could watch the rape of a woman by a bull in a recreation of the myth of Pasiphae. In India this process has been reincarnated as politicians give out their freebies of rice, alcohol and caste quotas at election time.

The amphitheatre has been provided by Bollywood. This twin vice grip has kept the masses from asking too many inconvenient questions about why democratic institutions have become increasingly stagnant. It has also stifled the growth of an effective civil society. Lack of employment prospects, crime and politics (the two are not mutually exclusive) as the only escape route for those with aspirations but no outlet to express their yearning to succeed, and a state which is constantly parasitic run as it is by Swiss bank socialist politicians gives the only escape into a world of fantasy.

This is the singing and dancing world of Bollywood which provides a temporary (even if it is at least 3 hours long) splash of colour in an otherwise monochrome drab humdrum existence of unhygienic high cholesterol street vendor food, lack of decent public toilets, potholed roads, and the menacing looming khaki clad figure of the all-powerful policeman.

Indian Cinema had a few masterpieces, even gems. Sholay remains the classic curry western grossing more than any other film to date. Indian cinema once had incredible reach and not just in the diaspora communities globally. Banning western films as products of western capitalism, the Warsaw Pact countries imported and encouraged the viewing of Indian films. Raj Kapoor was mobbed by admiring crowds when he visited Moscow in 1967 and sang his famous ‘Awaara’. Indian Cinema also became popular across the Middle East and Africa. But that was a different era. Sometimes badly made in their bad aping of the west one could still laugh heartily at the exaggerated stunts and mechanical fight scenes. Good would always triumph over evil. Any reflection of real life was not wanted by the masses who wanted after all to escape it. Such films were confined to the art house cinema of directors such as Satyajit Ray.

In the last twenty years however there has been a noticeable change. In 1993 Khal Nayak showed an excessive amount of graphic violence as well as Madhuri Dixit dancing to the suggestive ‘Chole ke piche kya hai’ or ‘what’s behind my blouse’. The answer was her heart. But now that heart has been ripped out and replaced by the lowest common biological denominator. Kissing entered the genre. This was no mere ethereal sexuality or eroticism. It was getting to be quite blatant. Having had her page 3 career of topless posing in the British tabloid, the Sun come to an end due to fresh eager meat, Samantha Fox was invited to star in the 1995 Bollywood production ‘Rock Dancer’.

As India opened up to the west the country’s leading ‘India Today’ reported trends of wife swapping and frank discussion of sexuality in magazines such as Debonair and Femina. Of all the pioneers in this new trend, most blatant was film director Mahesh Bhatt, the man who once boasted: “If Pooja wasn’t my daughter, I’d love to marry her.” He also allowed a picture of him kissing his Pooja on the lips to be clicked. With someone like this as an influential film director it was hardly a mystery where Indian cinema was going. Hence this year Bhatt hired Indo-American porn star Sunny Leone (Karenjit Kaur Vohra) to star in his ‘Jism 2’. Leone had already featured on Indian reality show Big Boss the previous year  where host Sanjay Dutt applauded her decision to openly confess to acting in hardcore sex scenes.

Now this is often shown as evidence that India is modernising. It is said to be progress. It is hailed as advancement. But to what end? Opposition is decried as a legacy of Victorian constraints the British brought over with them. Before that India was said to be free and easy about sex. Look at the Kamasutra they say. All those types of kissing and notorious sixty-four positions for intercourse. But Vatsyana actually wrote a very spiritual treatise. The sutra actually speak of the purusartas, or four main goals of life: Dharma (virtuous living), Artha (material prosperity), Kama (aesthetic and erotic pleasure, and Moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth). Now as can be seen Kama only constitutes one of the aforementioned. Also how exactly does something as earthly as pornography and sex sit well with the idea of Moksha?

The former is as materialistic as it gets. As such the soul is chained to return to this earth in another life form because it is so attached to the lowest common biological denominator, devoid of all spirituality. There is nothing beyond this physical realm. We just eat, drink, sleep, reproduce and given the right contraception do not even have to engage in the last element if we just want to satisfy our basic carnal desires. Such a mentality will not even see the relevance of Moksha. Yet here in India’s supposed ancient sex manual we have Moksha being the eventual goal. Mahesh Bhatt would not touch this sort of stuff with a barge pole.

The next arsenal among the ‘progressives’ are the Hindu temples in Orissa, namely Konorak and Khujaraho. Here we have ‘maithuna’ couples engaged in sexual acts. So here indeed is proof that such temples were free from sexual shame. Pornography was part of religion as the figures on the outside of the structure demonstrate. But was it? Were these advertisements for some sort of brothel? On closer examination and understanding the maithuna are seen in their actual context. They demonstrate the material world which the spiritual seeker leaves behind in the desire to be one with the eternal cosmos. That is how Moksha is achieved. You leave behind Kama. It has its place because sex has its place.

Suppressing it outright will only lead to a flotsam lumpen element in the brain’s subconscious where it will turn nastier and return in an unhealthy socially destructive state. Such as rape. Hence the mental and physical exercises that were formulated for those that wished to leave behind Kama and achieve Moksha. Even Tantra cannot just be reduced to sex as it subverts and opposes more common spiritual practices yet has its place in the wider scheme of cosmic balance. The very name Tantra conjures up images in the west of uninhibited promiscuity. The term is abused by individuals and groups offering barely disguised sexual services. Those that concentrate on the breathing and meditative techniques so essential to the discipline are few and far between. Once again a spiritual practice has been reduced to nothing more than shameless pornography.

Of course his conquering of basic human desires cannot be achieved by everyone. Hence ancient India has prostitution just like anywhere else. But it did not become a central focus as it was in ancient Rome which sex-obsessed to saturation point. That is perhaps why Indian civilisation survived as it kept higher spirituality as the main aspiration. India worshipped and honoured the feminine form. She is the power known as Shakti. Goddess Durga sits on a tiger as her ten arms bare various weapons with which she used to slay the buffalo demon Mahishasura, in the ultimate triumph of good over evil. As Kali Mata she wears a garland of skulls, her tongue lolls out through her sharp teeth as she demands blood sacrifices and dances over the body of her male consort Shiva.

This is not the case with culture being portrayed in modern India. Instead of importing the important western values which would create a healthy civil society, uproot outdated colonial era legislation such as the 1864 Police Act, and roll back an interfering intrusive state, instead India has taken the very worst. Once you have Kama as not just the central but sole focus then the results are obvious. The ready availability of pornography has warped the next generation’s sense of reality. It is not Generation X but Generation Sex.

On 19 December 2012 Melanie Phillips wrote this in the UK newspaper The Daily Mail: “Last year, Childline reported a 34 per cent increase in the number of counselling sessions it held after children viewed sexually indecent images, while the number of boys contacting the charity with worries about their exposure to online pornography increased by 70 per cent. Last week, a report by Professor Andy Phippen of Plymouth University showed 40 per cent of children under 12 have seen pornographic images online.

More disturbing still, Professor Phippen reports on a new craze among 12 to 16- year-olds for ‘sexting’, in which children send indecent images or videos of themselves to other children or to whole groups through mobile phones, Skype and social networking sites.Almost a third of parents said their children had received sexually explicit emails or texts. Experts in child development are issuing chilling warnings about the brutalising effect such exposure to porn is having on sexual development.

Many girls are being pressured into under-age sex by boys who have been exposed to gross sexual images. They even send images of their genitals to a girl before they have been on a date.The horrifying result is that a rapidly increasing number of children believe that sexuality and pornography are indistinguishable. Girls think if they don’t do the things shown in pornographic images they won’t be liked.

But since porn degrades individuals into mere objects to be used for sexual gratification, untold numbers of children are being taught to exploit, commodify and despise each other — and, indeed, themselves — and to dehumanise sexuality.What all this amounts to is nothing less than the institutionalised debauching of children and the destruction of childhood itself. So this could hardly be a more serious social problem, one which simply can’t be left to the all too frail capacity of parents to police it.”

Now it can be understood why rapes in supposedly sophisticated urban areas of India such as Delhi are increasing. When you reduce females to nothing more than faceless commodities, without a soul, just nothing more than their biological mechanical carbon based components, then you lose your sense of humanity. You lose your sense of shame. That is exactly what is happening in India. Pornography addiction is well known.

It is as addictive as any drug. Yet it is touted as the alternative to a suppressed sexuality. But if that was the case then the increasing sexual liberalisation in India would see less rapes not more. Rape would be phenomenon of the backward parts of India not its urban sophisticated set where the westernised chattering classes gather to talk their rather awful attempts to speak in British or American English.

Modernisation has broken many traditional links in society without bringing greater equality through a sense of civic duty. Instead social dysfunction is creating a mass of atomised individuals who have little between them and the omnipotent state than the pornographic fantasy of Bollywood. In Mumbai the home of this cinematic genre, the social effects of a ‘chav’ style culture reminiscent of British television Shameless or Inbetweeners is becoming increasingly apparent; even while they lack the self-mocking social commentary of those Channel 4 productions which would in any case not be understood by India’s mindless rootless elite such as Mahesh Bhatt.

The same channel broadcast Unreported World on 30 November 2012 which showed how clubbers in that city were fighting a battle for freedom to party against an oppressive police force. Jenny Kleeman said that Assistant Police Commissioner Vasant Dhoble, has detained at least 1000 clubbers on suspicion of anything from taking drugs to selling sex. Nicknamed ‘Inspector Killjoy’ he has earned the wrath of former Miss Mumbai, Nisha Harale Bedi. But Bedi also faced opposition from unexpected quarters, notably the city’s largest slum of Dharavi who find the behaviour of Mumbai’s clubbing set an affront in what is still a largely conservative society, and where the slumdwellers may be poor but they still have the all-important vote.

Unlike the middle-class elite the residents of slums such as Dharavi have scant protection against unwarranted sexual violence whether from police or as a direct social consequence of the celluloid manufacture of females as mindless sex objects, even when that is done in the name of ‘empowerment’.Critics of this dire doomsday scenario should perhaps look at Gujarat where responsible state government under Chief Minister Narendra Modi is creating a vibrant society for the future for all its citizens but without losing its traditional moorings. Hence why this state in western India has forged ahead while places such as Delhi bare greater resemblance to Rome as it declined. As with ancient Rome it looks as if the barbarians are now inside the city gates.

About The Author

Ranbir Singh : Writer and lecturer, HHR chairman : BA (Honours) History, MA History from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London : , Have lectured previously at De Montfort University, London School of Economics, Contributor to various political and human rights discussion outfits.

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