Nation of Beancounters

The BBC covers Indian culture well

Posted in Indian Culture by Navin Kumar on December 3, 2011

So why does India have this tortured and twisted relationship with the kiss?

Some people play it down, saying those who protest belong to a “loony fringe” of moral fundamentalists. Others say it is a hangover from tradition in an ancient civilisation. Still others say many Indians long for traditional mores as Western consumerist values swamp the country.

Or is it a response to what the Iranian intellectual Jalal-e-Ahmad called “Westoxication” – superficial consumerist display of commodities and fads produced in the West?

Do some Indians – cutting across class – actually rail against such “Westoxication” when they are revulsed by couples kissing? “Looked at closely,” says leading Indian sociologist Dipankar Gupta, “revulsion against Westoxication is principally an aesthetic sneer and not a full blooded call for a return to tradition”.

Or is the rage against the kiss born out of a hypocritical morality that equates sex with sin and desire with guilt? As sociologist Shiv Vishwanathan tells me, “India is the only country which has a body police and not a thought police”.

Rest here.


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