Republic of control

Policing or controlling culture is the domain not only of the fringe

The self-appointed custodians of Indian culture and values raised their ugly head on Monday, when a bunch of hooligans called the Sri Rama Sene attacked young women in a pub in Mangalore. The women’s alleged wrongdoing: drinking and dancing, which the group sees to be a perversion of Indian culture and tradition. Leave aside the plain illegality of such an attack, but the Sri Ram Sene cannot seriously believe that drinking and dancing are alien to Indian culture — if they knew their history, they would know otherwise. But the fact is that the Sri Rama Sene does not know its Ramayana, or the deep and long tradition of tolerance that Indian culture is most famous for.

 

Sadly, the Mangalore incident is hardly a one-off affair. It is just one incident in a long line of incidents — the destruction of an art exhibition in Baroda, the vandalism on Valentine’s Day, threats to M.F. Hussain, to name just a few — which expose the extreme intolerance and thuggishness of a certain section of society. Unfortunately, many of these hooligans are well-organised groups of politically motivated individuals who do usually have formal or informal links with many mainstream right-wing parties. The BJP may deny direct association with the Rama Sene, but what about the Bajrang Dal?

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