Gollapudi: Morals are Tropical! the values that can be bartered politically, revised topically even by mass frenzy. Surely, let us enjoy IPL or any League for that matter.

Cricket is not a mere sport but a religion in this part of the globe. But did anybody notice a significant trend in this IPL season. The first part of the season was held in UAE. As always, the cheer leaders made their presence felt in UAE but in different attire, true to the culture of the land. They were healthily dressed and respectfully cheered all the way. The restraint and good taste is discernible all through. Not a single match showed these cheer leaders in scantily dressed attire. They exuded only cheers and nothing else. As a contrast ,the moment the IPL landed in our country, gone were their costumes, these very cheer leaders were virtually half naked displaying over-grown bodies and with all provocative gestures. Their cheers were amorous and sexy-to say the least.

Gollapudi: Morals are Tropical!

Why? What is wrong with India? When small countries like UAE could show restraint and better taste, we, who are forerunners to the so-called Oriental Culture, cannot even restrain from this bad taste, which is after all, an add-on tamasha, totally irrelevant to the main event. Did not our elders care to realise this or is this the way of life to which we are used to, in the name of “progress’’. I was in Male during Ramzan season, a few years ago. It is a very small Island Nation but with strict adherence to religious principles. We were warned at the airport that we were not supposed to take even water in public as it was a fasting month for them, let alone liquor! In the hotel room where we stayed we were given the choice of liquor, but only between the four walls.

Years ago I was in Patna. I found an interesting spectacle. Every young girl was totally covering her face leaving only a slit for the two eyes on her face. I was stunned. It was like a distorted, paranoid tableau. I had asked my friend as to what all this was about. He said simply that it was the trend. One municipal commissioner decreed that they cannot go about that way for security reasons. And their identity cannot be ascertained in the event of a mishap and ordered to do away with the masks. And there was an earth shaking uproar. “Who does this official think we are? Terrorists? What about our individual choice. Who the hell is this officer to trespass into our privacy? We will go to court, if necessary” was their cry. Sensing that the parents and the elders of the community were silent and mute spectators to this sordid show, this official withdrew his protest and shut his mouth. And then I find this happening in our cities. It takes decades to communalise a virtue. But a bad taste can spread like an epidemic in no time.

Let me confide with responsibility, I have seen a girl and a boy coming out of the park next to Ambedkar University in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad in the afternoon after having good time. This girl, soon after exiting the gate, stopped her scooter and promptly covered her face and went on her way! This may be an isolated case of misusing an otherwise nice social order. But to start with, is this a social order at all?

The other day, a scooter stopped next to my car at a signal. It was a young lady, her head totally covered. Her eyes bulged looking at me and she waved. I asked her, “Are you happy to see me or horrified, because I have no privilege of seeing your face. I am yet to know-unless you confide-whether you are whining at me, or is it your choicest smile.’’ She said in an obviously muffled voice through the mask, that she was my fan. Before the signal turned green, I asked her: ‘”You have closed two nostrils, two ears, a mouth and all the surroundings to these organs, but why do you need two eyes? Why not close one eye and conduct yourself with the other one? Surely you need not overuse that faculty. With that veil, it is a prudent economy, is it not?’’ I sensed that she laughed behind her veil, happy that I am not her parent or the Municipal Commissioner and drove away.

The present day culture opens new vistas, gives new bravado, camouflages the frailties of the youth under the guise of individual liberty. Otherwise, why this veil? Some countries are doing away with it, from very traditionally driven religious groups with brave persons like Malala championing the cause, while the others are inheriting them for altogether unnecessary and arguably dubious purposes. This is cultural retardation in the guise of personal liberty.

Is decency going to be a calamity in the name of modernisation? Is individual liberty and personal choice accommodating the mindless corruption of the mindset? The irony is, we abide by the rules of those countries very meticulously when we visit them, but set a different scale, when it is our own. Our moral guardians are silenced in the name of entertainment and there is a dangerous label given to it, when somebody even cares to question it. “Dangerously decadant and rightwing fundamentalism.’’ I am not trying to play Pramod Mutalik, but a decent, respectful citizen of the time.

Taste, good manners and culture are not the values that can be bartered politically, revised topically even by mass frenzy. Surely, let us enjoy IPL or any League for that matter. But does it require these plump, half naked bodies and their circus before the cameras? Let us not vulgarise a decently popularised sport that has caught the imagination of millions. Any day I congratulate UAE countries for making their culture prevail even during the best of this century’s entertainment. Values, I am afraid, are not topical or even tropical.

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