What you give is what you lose

Mar 30, 2014, 19:38 IST | Paromita Vohra

As elders will often tell you — kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padta hai. You have to give up something to get something.

Paromita VohraAs elders will often tell you — kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padta hai. You have to give up something to get something.

What some urban elites are willing to sacrifice in order to get the economic spurt Narendra Modi is purportedly going to bring, should he win, became rather clear last week, with the brief wild card entry of Pramod Muthalik, into the BJP show.

Iilustration/Amit Bandre

The possibility of a BJP ticket for Muthalik set off a wave of social media comments. Those who consider Modi, with some reason, a fascist, pointed out this was further proof of the BJP’s particular brand of intolerance.

In response, many felt this was all faltu ka drama. To get something you have to give something na? Since it was Pramod Muthalik, whose Ram Sene attacked women out at a Mangalore pub in 2009, the sacrifice under discussion was the freedom and mobility of women without fear of attack and moral policing.

But apparently, some said, ‘pub-going’, a shorthand for any activity not carried out in a family or domestic environment, is essentially frivolous especially when compared to boosting the privatisation economy.

So, let’s see. You root for a certain kind of economy. To prove how global you are you will of course feel women (especially those related to you) should also have jobs in this new economy (though you may draw the line at fighting for their equal pay. After all, they are eventually going to marry you, so how seriously can you take them). Now, a result and part of this new economy is the proliferation of entertainment spaces where its new elites enjoy themselves — pubs, clubs and spaces of social pleasure.

But you are saying, that if the moral policing propagated by the Ram Sene is part of the mix, it is not a big deal. Bole to — women should serve this economy but it’s alright if they cannot participate equally in the pleasures afforded by this economy. Because you know, kuch paane ke liye kuch khona padta hai — of course as long as someone else is doing the sacrificing.

Perhaps it’s true — what is the big deal? What’s so new in people thinking women’s lives and freedom are always supposed to be subservient to some supposed ‘common’ good. Whether it is foreign invaders or foreign investment, sacrificing some women’s issue always seems to hits the spot.

The thing is — Pramod Muthalik may no longer think moral policing is worth the price of the pink chaddi courier delivery slips he will have to keep signing. Given his history, it is hard to imagine he believes in any principle other than his own power.

What is troubling is that people, who routinely put up pictures on Facebook showing what a good life they have at various pub-like venues, do seem to believe that compromising women’s freedom is not a serious matter; it is not a principle they find important to uphold. I wonder if they have asked the women standing next to them in those photos, what they feel. They also sometimes say — why single Modi out for the efficient massacre of minorities under his governance (efficiency paane ke liye massacre dena padta hai I guess). Hasn’t everyone else done it too? The question is, if they believe what others have done is wrong, why
excuse Modi?

What are these sweet, self-declared pragmatic, crony capitalism warriors willing to give up for the greater good, or let’s say, benefit? A useless question perhaps to ask those whose privileges are after all built up of other people’s sacrifices.

Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevi.com.

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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