Two decisions of the newly installed state government of Uttar Pradesh have generated a lot of discussions on the social media. The first is the administrative actions termed “Anti Romeo squads” and the second, the closure of illegal Butcheries. Obviously both decisions of the state government find the detractors seeing red and crying foul. But a word of caution for all those who are going ballistic against the state government on these two counts. These are of course my personal views on the matter. I don’t presume them to be relevant to anybody. I don’t even think that anybody is serious about what I post on facebook, including myself.
Firstly, one may not like the party in power, the person heading the government or the decisions they have taken with a lot of hyper activity on the ground. You may not like it and some others may not like it too, for various reasons of their own. But it appears that a lot of people across the spectrum are enthused by these decisions and there is a sort of tacit support for these actions from the people on the ground. So it will be foolhardy to believe them or dub them to be anti-people measures, prima facie.
Let us first ponder over the Anti Romeo squads. It is a fact that eve teasing is rampant in smaller towns and places.And sexual harassment has increased in the society. The society in the vast hinterlands of the country continue to remain feudal, male dominated, unemployed, sexually repressed, lawless and unrefined. Literacy and technology have not been able to counter these malaise; perhaps it has added to the problem because of the rapid changes. Eve teasing and sexual harassment of females just epitomize the combination of all the backwardness that we have in the society.
Ask any parent of a young teenage girl and you will find how worried they are about the safety of their daughter. Ask the young girl about her experience on the streets unaccompanied and you will understand how it affects the psyche and hampers individual growth. This is also an issue of law and order and the administration under previous governments share the blame for letting things come to such a pass. There should be some soul searching on why the Indian society is so disrespectful of women on the street and public places. And this cannot be experienced from the confines of our homes in big cities or explained by our liberal minds which often tend to look down upon the regressive ones and dismiss them as deviant. Women are treated as objects and more damningly as sex objects. So there is a need for administrative action against the depraved and on that count there should be no opposition to it.
Next, if we examine the decision to close down illegal butcheries, that too should not be a reason for breast beating. Seen by itself, any administrative action against illegal establishments is not wrong. In fact, the administration is under obligation to prevent the proliferation of illegal activities. Here let me add that this is purely from a legal and administrative point of view, somewhat theoretical perhaps, that I am espousing. The ramifications of such actions are a different matter and surely needs discussion.
Again, on this issue too, we will find that the slaughter of animal and open display of carcasses in the public places without proper barrier is not only indecent but incongruous to a modern civilized society. The psychological effects on children and the softer sensibilities of people need to be respected as also the aversion of vegetarians to such visual pollution. I am myself a hardcore non-vegetarian and oppose the ban on any kind of meats , including beef and pork but would not like to see carcasses of animals hanging by the side of roads that I frequent or slaughter of animals in the open . I don’t decry against slaughter of animals for religious rituals but would not like to see goats being openly slaughtered as “Bali” during Kalipuja or “Kurbaani” during Eid . Religion, food habits etc are all personal choices. No one should stop anybody from practicing it according to their own belief or taste but at the same time it can’t be a public spectacle to offend others. Do it within your homes or places of worship and don't poke your nose to see what others are doing.
Not surprisingly the women rights activists are supporting the Anti Romeo actions and Animal activists are too, supporting the action against illegal slaughterhouses. And since no social discourse in this country is complete without bringing the communal angle, let me add that a majority of the Muslims like the Anti Romeo squads because it also gels with and substantiates their notion about the need to follow the obnoxious practice of Burqa . So the matter of supporting and opposing the government decisions on such issues affecting the society is not one-dimensional. There are layers of complexities that we have to negotiate. Having a liberal outlook does not mean that we can ignore the realities and the go on opposing the establishment for everything they do. There has to be a balance somewhere. Maybe these actions were overdue for the simple reason that the liberty to stand on the roadside and appreciate the beauty of female form was mis-utilised by the perverts, retards and depraved. Maybe the right to eat whatever you want to was degenerated into the ugly display of dead and mutilated animals without any limits. Actions will have reactions and the balance needs to be maintained in everything.
So why it that concerns is are being raised by well meaning people about the actions unleashed by the state government. It is because of the experience which shows that the ideology and philosophy that accompanies the political party running the government. It is because of the miasma of half-truths, untruths, lies, canards and hate-mongering that is associated with the ruling party and its principal office bearers. It is because with time we have lost faith on the politicians and the administration, particularly the insensitive police force to carry out any operation in an impartial and humane manner. It is also the conviction that all these actions are a smokescreen to carry out the agenda of anti people activities which help to perpetuate the capitalist domination and benefit the coterie around power.
The recent action on demonetisation is a pointer, in this regard. Theoretically it may have been really necessary and the objectives that were associated for the exercise were laudable. But how was it executed and at what price? These never come to light. As pointed out by many, it was a simply a high cost exercise utilising public money and patience to project the government as strong and promote the leader as invincible. The after effects of demonetisation continue to hurt us.
When we see and hear incidents of couples being harassed and high handed police actions, we know how much misuse will happen. If eve teasing is curbed, incidents of rape come down then it is laudable but if it is used to push females indoor, harass opponents, used to break student unions , stifle dissent and protests then it will be far worse. Similarly if the food habits are curbed on the basis of communal lines then that is a danger signal. Already a lot of polarisation has taken place in the last couple of years, both communally and ideologically. Let us not create irreconcilable divides further .
Contrary to what many may think , this is not a defence or justification of the government actions. It is an attempt to view the actions in the proper perspective. There is no way that I can support the ideology and philosophy which spreads hate. But on the flip side there is also a need to introspect why such ideologies raise their heads.