Crazy little thing called love
The manner in which India interprets love is nothing short of strange. Last week, the Animal Welfare Board of India declared that February 14 should henceforth be known as Cow Hug Day.
The argument was that in the light of rampant westernisation of our culture, India’s ancient Vedic traditions were on the verge of being forgotten.
Hugging a cow was seen as a means to enrich oneself emotionally, and increase the collective happiness. As expected, netizens had a field day on social media, lampooning the novel initiative.
But love is one of the primary casualties of high-handedness of authority figures across the board. Take for instance, a recent circular issued by the National Institute of Technology Calicut, which talks about public displays of affection (PDA).
The directive from the dean of students’ welfare prohibits students from engaging in any such activity that would lead to the creation of an uncomfortable situation on campus and distract students.
Aside from the need to maintain discipline, the one thing that does emerge from the episode is the tendency of educational institutions to exercise an overarching level of control over its wards.
However, such policing is barely limited to academic bodies, as people across India can testify to the arbitrary rules placed by house-owners upon the arrival of guests in homes occupied by their tenants. There are also moral policemen who have made it their stock in trade to restore India’s long lost sense of identity, by thrashing up young, unmarried couples seen together in parks and public places. Last week, four men in Mangaluru were arrested for roughing up a young man and woman hailing from different faiths, who happened to be with each other in a city park.
A similar incident of harassment was reported by a woman from Bengaluru last month, who alleged that a policeman had shot pictures of her and a male companion while they were at a lake. Accusing the cop of extortion, the woman asked what gives law enforcement authorities the right to apprehend young couples in such a manner, putting their dignity at stake. Of course, most of us in India tend to turn a blind eye to such developments, not due to apathy, but due to sheer helplessness and the recurring frequency of these episodes. But not everyone is feigning indifference at such instances of hypocrisy.
A group of gay couples in India has now petitioned the Supreme Court, demanding the legalisation of same sex marriages. The country’s top court is set to hear the petitions next month, even as the government has argued that entertaining such requests would be detrimental to the social fabric of India, adding that same sex marriages could wreak havoc with the balance of personal laws in the country. It’s ironic, if you consider that India’s adoption and inheritance laws based on a skewed binary notion of gender, are unfavourable to members of the LGBTQIA community.
The recent instance of a trans-couple in Kerala welcoming their first baby via natural childbirth has also reignited the discourse regarding how much agency the State or Central government should have on the lives of India’s citizens, and what it could do to make things a little more inclusive. The answer should be obvious to a fault – let an individual’s personal choices, especially those involving love and relationships, remain just that – personal.
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