Thursday, February 19, 2009

Taliban and the Valentine

At last, Valentine's Day is gone past. Phew.

I'm not sure of the other news papers, but the Times of India made it look as if Velantine's day was the only activity that occurred in India in the first half of February 2009. The Buzziest Brand went all out for lover boys and girls, women's liberation, individual freedom, 'Pub Bharo' "Movement", Pink Chaddi's and sarees, Indian culture, Pub Culture and anything that one would never have even remotely associated with the V-Day Celebration! Well, the media only reflects the society. Just that, sometimes, it uses a magnifying glass in front of the mirror and the mirror's angle too, perhaps, gets a bit skewed. Well, it's all in the game, anyway.

Now that the V-Day demonsrations are over, with people pondering over what to protest against now, Pakistan is back in the news. But the picture is really cluttered with too many microcosms within our friendly neighbourhood - Fidayeen, Mujahideen, Deccan Mujahideen, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Afghanistan, Sharia, AQ Khan, Dawood, Drone fighters, Geo News . . . the list, or rather, the mixture is whopping! There are too many stake holders in the Sub-continent, so many voices and noises being raised, so many diplomatic and multilateral dialogues and statements being exchanged, so much chaos that the picture is rather murky, with a lot of dust in the air refusing to settle down any time soon.

To be candid, I did give it a cursory thought if I should be really be mentioning all those names that I just did in the previous paragraph and fall in the radars and scanners that keep scourging through the information on the internet for any misguided connotations. For the record, I love peace and I am staunchly against terror, in any form!

But what really was special about this V-Day in India was that, people from all walks of life became aware of such a significant festival. So much so that I wished my elderly uncle, "Happy Valentine's Day to you!". He was bemused and was at a loss for words: "How do you think I should respond to THAT? This is the first time in my life that someone has wished me on a Valentine's Day!"

That apart, V-Day drew parallels between the movement to "protect Indian Culture" and "Talibanisation". The pink Underwear campaign gathered pace, much beyond expectations, not because of the abundant supply of the commodity in question: Underwears are available in most households. The reason, I would say, was that it was a right campaign that appealed to the right audience, who were already perturbed by the developments after 26/11. Let's not get lost in silly questions about who gained, go drew mileage, who shot to popularity or what was achieved in the entire episode that marked the 2009 V-Day miles apart from its predecessors. Questions like these seldom matter in a democracy!

Finally, though all attempts are made not to ask silly questions at this juncture, I have to ask this before I sign this piece off:

  • What is Indian Culture?
  • What is Western Culture?
  • Is it the duty of every citizen to play a part in preserving one's unique culture?
  • Do people of other cultures try to protect their cultures?

That's it. Four questions are too many to ask at a stretch. Not that anyone is going to be even slightly bothered about them. Still, whether asked or not, whether answered or not, questions remain questions.

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