The self-appointed enforcers of “Indian culture” have called off their plans to protest Valentine’s day celebrations across Karnataka. The reason for this sudden change of heart? “"We fear that any violence on that day will be blamed on us” states Prasad Attavar, vice convenor of Sri Rama Sene—the group behind the attack on young women at a Mangalore pub.
However, a large majority of us are inclined to think differently. It seems highly unlikely that a group that publicly proclaimed the incident a victory of sorts is now shying away from an opportunity to claim more success against growing “Westernization” and “immorality” amongst Indian youth.
Could this have something to do with the moral brigade underestimating the opposition they would receive from a section of society they thought too small, insignificant and voiceless? The counter attack launched by indignant independent urban women—spearheaded by the “Pink Chaddi Campaign” where thousands of women sent pink knickers to the head honcho of the radical Hindu group—seems to have made the self-appointed torch bearers of Indian culture rethink their strategy. Have they now realized they just may have bitten off more than they can chew? That the thus far mild-mannered, passive group of women they decided to target turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Has the unanticipated ferocity of the response the Ram Sene provoked proved too much to handle?
While the radicals may be silenced for now, this could very well just be a lull before the storm. The whole issue is essentially a testament to the growing battle within India to balance rapid modernization with its deep-rooted traditions. What we see today could just be a preview of things to come. Neither party is going to back down any time soon. As long as we are a democracy, we have the freedom to protest and more importantly, the freedom to choose which side of the divide we stand on.
For my part, and I suppose I speak for a lot of us, I would like the freedom to walk down a street sporting tight jeans and noodle-strapped tops or grab a drink in a pub without fear of being attacked. I would like to live in a country that allows me, as a woman, to decide how to lead my life as I see fit without having to gift my pink knickers to a strange man to grant me that freedom!