Kiss of Love & Moral Policing – Signs of Jungle Raj

Kiss of Love

Kiss of Love

‘Kiss of Love’ !!! Well, it’s not yet Valentine’s Day. But it’s a new way of showing protest against moral policing by private groups in India. In the last few days, the headline ‘Kiss of Love’ has undoubtedly caught our attention. The Kiss of Love campaign started in Kochi as a protest against moral policing in Kerala, and slowly spread to other States as well.

Simply put, what is moral policing?

Moral policing is a group of people or vigilant groups on their own enforcing a code of morality in the country. These so-called vigilant groups take law into their hands to attack anything and anyone considered morally disgraceful or against the Indian culture or influenced by the Western culture. But then do you indulge in obscene activities in front of your parents at your home? If not, then how dare you do it at public places where other parents with their children are moving around? So, there are laws in place in all civilised societies to curb disorderly behaviour. And we have more of them (CrPC, IPC) than anywhere else in the world, but only in the book. Unfortunately, we never had a Government that realised what is its primary function. The origin of the idea of Government itself was the crying need for law and order, not money-making reforms! When that is not in place, people do what they want and some others react. Therefore, moral policing and Kiss of Love are signs of sheer anarchy of the olden days. The former going to the extreme (repeat extreme), criticising or attacking books, films, theatres, paintings, art exhibitions, pubs, bars, beauty salons and people whose actions they consider immoral or against Indian culture. And there follows a chain reaction.

Some instances of moral policing in India

  • Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) workers destroyed a pub in Pune, Maharashtra by damaging furniture and window panes. The reason for this moral policing was to support the Pune police who had forced five pubs to close before the closing time of 12:30 am.
  • A fine arts student of Maharaja Shivajirao University in Vadodara was attacked by a group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists during an on-campus exhibition, because his artwork offended Hindu and Christian religious sentiments.
  • When Hollywood actor Richard Gere gave a peck to Bollywood actress Shipa Shetty on the stage in front of a live audience, effigies of both the actors were burnt. The reason was this was an “obscene” behaviour.
  • The Ram Sena activists attacked some men and women in the pub “Amnesia — The Lounge” in Mangalore, Karnataka, because according to them, the women were violating traditional Indian values.
  • A handicapped boy in Khelari in Jharkhand was tonsured, garlanded with shoes and tied to an electric pole because he was suspected to have smoked opium. The vigilant group was Samaj Sudhar Samity.
  • MJ Biju, an Indian soldier, was attacked by members of the Bajrang Dal in Belthangady, Karnataka because he was ‘roaming’ with a girl, who in fact turned out to be his sister.
  • Activists of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike attacked a birthday party, where the 12 people at the party, including some girls, were beaten, stripped and molested. The cause for this was that the youngsters were involved in “some indecent activities” and consuming alcohol.

Not only the vigilant groups, the police are also equally involved in attacking and assaulting innocent people on the pretext of moral policing. There is no end to the list of moral policing instances in India, where people are unnecessarily being humiliated, attacked, assaulted and even stripped and slapped.

Kiss of Love protests

A Facebook fan page titled ‘Kiss of Love’ was created on November 2, 2014 in which youngsters of Kerala were asked to participate in a kissing campaign to protest against moral policing at Marine Drive, Cochin. With more than 11,000 likes for the Facebook page within a short time, it got huge support not only from the youth of Kerala but also from other States. The students of Jadavpur and Presidency Universities of Kolkatta joined in the campaign on November 5, 2014, which further spread to Hyderabad, Mumbai and now to Delhi on November 9.

Kiss of Love is actually a non-violent protest in the form of hugging, kissing and holding hands in public by the youngsters and the cause for this campaign is to protest against moral policing and to promote gender sensitisation.

It’s a strange fact when our country is making progress in economic development, science and technology, there is still a certain section of the people who are deeply rooted in the age-old culture and traditions and religious sentiments, say the Kiss of Love protesters. On the other hand, the vigilant groups or the police feel that there is a need to moral policing for the betterment of society.

What do the protagonists of morality want

According to them, in order that the culture of India is protected, some preventive steps that can be taken are as follow:

  • No public display of affection (PDA)
  • No kissing and holding hands in public
  • Girls should not wear short dresses
  • Girls should not go out at night
  • No dancing in pubs
  • No smoking and drinking alcohol
  • No wearing of Western clothes

But, youngsters are of the opinion that such bans won’t help the society. They have strongly criticised the very concept of moral policing. Why should kissing and expressing love should be considered disgusting and obscene when there are so many rape incidents happening in the country even in broad daylight? Is rape a part of Indian culture? Members of the right-wing political group Hindu Sena are so agitated by Kiss of Love protest in Delhi that they have threatened to rape the protest organisers, that too publicly. This moral policing group has termed the protestors as “un-Indians”. According to Hindu Sena members, kissing in public is same as walking around naked.

Do we really need moral policing?

Whether Indian situation has reached such a flashpoint needing moral policing is a serious question. According to today’s young generation, moral policing is actually preventing all of their freedoms. If moral policing is interfering with others’ rights, then we don’t need one. But, if it is controlling misbehaviour in public, then why not? But then that amounts to a free-for-all. No individual has the right to indulge in any kind of moral policing, only the State makes laws and enforces them.

If everyone has a rule for others, and start enforcing it, well, that is what is called jungle raj and that is what prompted the birth of State in the course of the evolution of human societies. Simple!