We are a ban republic if not a banana republic.
The problem begins both at the level of theory and practice. In a classificatory sense, certain objects, ideas do not fit into the logic of the order. Liminal ideas are caught betwixt and between the categories and are seen as threats so, instead of debating them, they are banned. ‘Ban’ seems to be the new buzzword for the government of India. From beef to documentaries, the government is leaving no stone unturned to uphold the dignity of India. Some of these bans simply deserve a slow clap and a drum roll.
1) Ban of Beef in Maharashtra:
Want to satiate your craving for beef in Maharashtra? Fret not. If you have rupees 10,000 or 5 years to waste in jail then the ban doesn’t really apply to you. President Pranab Mukherjee approved the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill of 1995, banning the slaughter of cows, bullocks and bulls. The Maharashtra government told the Bombay high court that there is a need to protect and preserve these animals as the state’s economy is still predominantly agrarian. So, I go to a restaurant and ask the waiter, ‘Excuse me sir, how do you serve your beef?’ He replies by saying, ‘With a few years of imprisonment ma’am’. Cattle slaughter in India is a historically taboo subject because of the cow’s traditional status as a sacred animal in Hinduism. (Do not be surprised if the cows are given voting rights in the next election!) Also, the article 48 of the Constitution reads, ‘The state shall endeavour to organise agricultural and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milk and draught cattle.’ So now, in Maharashtra you can have a beef with someone but you can’t have beef with someone. To eat or not to eat should be a personal choice. Good to know India is safer for cows than for women!
2) Ban on Cuss Words in Bollywood:
It is no secret that the Indian censor board has been interjecting with Bollywood’s creativity a bit too much. Recently directions were issued that films with profanities (34 were listed out), those glorifying bloodshed or violence against women should not get certification. Does this mean that other bad words which are not listed can be used in films? This is against the freedom and creative liberty of a filmmaker. If a gangster is portrayed in the film he will use the language as per his character and not what a saint would use. What is freedom of expression when the truth is replaced by silence? Apparently, the new censor board regulations are enough to get Anurag Kashyap depressed because all the dialogues in his movies are going to go “Beep, beep, beep.” What about a ban on the censor board?
3) Ban on Smoking:
How many of you have felt like lighting up in a public place but haven’t done so thanks to the ban imposed by the government on smoking in public. The government has even banned the sale of loose cigarettes and has raised the minimum age of a person buying tobacco products to 21 from 18. (Smokers said that this has only made them more anxious to buy cigarettes in packs now.) Not only that, this genius mind of a certain health minister figured that smoking on screen causes cancer and it is injurious to health. And with another stroke of genius it was declared that this needs to be drilled into the minds of anyone watching a film or TV show. So now you have disclaimers, overlays and horrendously produced AVs that tell you smoking is bad for health. What’s funny is that smoking scenes are supposed to induce smoking habits but nobody is bothered about the effect on the audience due to rape, murder, etcetera.
4) Ban on Public Display of Affection:
According to Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Public Display of Affection is a criminal offence which amounts to punishment of imprisonment up to 3 months. In India, everything we see somehow falls under the category of Ban. When kissing is all about love why are there so many hullabaloos about it and why is there a need to be against it? When a bunch of people lock their lips right on the road against moral policing, what’s wrong with it? People are free to piss on the land of India but just kiss someone and you’re gone. Our country has turned the clock back a century or more. India is caught in the throes of the Big Ban Theory. We ban whatever we see or hear. Ban this, Ban that, Ban Ban Ban! You name it and we’ve banned it!
What’s next a ban on walking in Pyjamas?