Does Moral Policing make business sense?

Mangalore attack: Girls should skip parties, Karnataka women’s panel boss says

…she also said that preventing such incidents from taking place is more important than taking action on culprits. [‘Mangalore attack: Girls should skip parties, Karnataka women’s panel boss says’]

(Link shared by MyPunchingBag)

And how do we prevent such incidents from taking place if we (for some reason) keep avoiding taking appropriate action against those who are repeatedly causing these incidents?

Why don’t we hear of zero tolerance, immediate arrests and maximum punishment by fast track courts?

Isn’t it strange how seemingly ignorant voices keep trying to make it about women, skirts, pubs, drinks and parties? (often even when the victim was wearing salwar kurta)

Is this just ignorance?

Although young men are also seen being assaulted in the video, Manjula C said,

…she said that holding parties in remote places leads to suspicion. “I will discuss the issue with Mangalore University vice-chancellor TC Shivashankara Murthy and principals of colleges in the city to find solutions for the protection of young women students,” she said.

I have blogged about an armed robbery in a building I used to live in.  When we called out to the security in an attempt to prevent the robbers from escaping, one of them had said, “We are from the vigilance, we have heard that there is sex racket going on in your house.” This had confused us. Now if these thugs (all arrested, thankfully nobody blamed the residents for arousing their suspicions) were to name their gang after a god and put red tilaks on their foreheads, maybe then residents would be asked not to arouse the robbers’ suspicions?

Please take a look at this excellent article,

What moral policing? Pub attack is a law and order problem
Vinay Kamat

In January 2009 a pub was attacked in Mangalore and women were assaulted. … more than 3 years later, a birthday party was attacked, and women were again assaulted.

The obvious similarity between Pub1 and Pub2 starts with one of the alleged orchestrator: Subhash Padil. Active in 2009. Hyperactive in 2012. There may be more such common orchestrators.

Four months ago, say people familiar with the situation, Padil had threatened to upload “sleazy” photographs of a partying band.

He was one of the main accused in Pub1, has 20 cases against him, and is out on bail now. …

It’s no longer ideology, says TOI writer Stanley Pinto. It’s about the business of extortion or protection money.Moral policing makes business sense. The attack on Amnesia (pub) in January 2009 by lumpen elements of the Sri Rama Sene for allegedly not paying protection money has made militant outfits realise that business more than ideology pays.”

Somewhere in our quest to discover the interplay of social variables which define social metamorphosis or urban decay, we have forgotten the one factor that needs to be held accountable: the police. Else, how could the same man attack twice?

Why do I recommend this article? Because the author also looks at the 5 popular arguments and explains why they miss the point.

And finally a comment by Russell Pinto (Goa) on TOI article:

“OK , now i understand, If I want to molest a girl, all I have to say is she was dressed indecently, and claim that i was teaching her a lesson. This way I dont get arrested .Why dont the authorities open their eyes and see whats really happening? These kind of situations will really get out of hand, if the authorities dont hold the real culprits accountable- the so called moral police. We will soon have to budget for security too, when we have parties.”

So do you think in this scenario Moral Policing makes business sense? Who do you think benefits the most from these acts that we pass off as ‘Moral Policing’?

Is there a chance of their being controlled without their being taken seriously?


51 thoughts on “Does Moral Policing make business sense?

  1. I don’t know about business sense but it makes political sense. Wasn’t there a sting of sort with one of these head honcho thugs recorded as negotiating to arrange such a spontaneous riot against an art gallery for a fee?


  2. I wanted to comment on the article in regarding this. About how the only person responsible for a crime is the person who comitted it. This and other similar comments were what I got in response:

    ”I understand clearly now girls or women like you may live animal life and mingle with any men you see on the day and deceive your husbands/parents. Why not you declare openly that you are a modern women who dont care any social value that India has got (in the past). Your sole aim is only physical pleasure and nothing else in life.Anyway i am not here to comment anyone’s individual freedom, we have heard from Puranas and Idhakasas about good woman like Seetha and bad woman like Surpanaka. Now in our life we could see very few like Seetha and most on the streets and following modern culture are Soorpanakas.”


    • I’ve always had the utmost sympathy for Surpanaka. She was just another victim of patriarchy, if you ask me. Who gave Laxman the right to assault her?!!!


        • Is there even one woman, heroine or not, in Indian mythology who is lauded for anything other than beauty and sacrifice?


        • Of course, Hindu women are expected to welcome a life like Sita’s.

          It is ironic, that names like Janaki, Vaidehi, Maithili are common for Hindu girls.

          But Sita, the name she took after marrying Rama, not so popular. Somehow, Hindu parents are loath to name their daughters Sita. Yet we are urged to be Sita-like in our conduct.

          Our hyprocrisy is limitless and entirely deviod of logic.


      • You should read The Ramayan , as interpreted by Aubrey Menen (unless you’re religious, it is blasphemous most of the time, and condescending at times). Breaks the stereotypes of the “dutiful son” (hint: Baaaaaa!) , the arch villain, and perhaps most importantly, Sita.


        • Thanks Thumbelina. I will try to buy this book from a store selling used books.

          I have been fruitlessly searching for “In search of Sita” by Namita Devidayal. Crosswords and Landmark have taken orders for it but haven’t heard from them after that.


      • IHM, This answer is important so I hope it will be published.


        ‘Who gave the right to Lakshmana to assault Surpanaka.’

        You certainly need to re-read the Ramayana. Are you saying that Surpnakha’s conduct was worthy of any sort of kindness/compassion?
        She cast her lustful gaze on Rama and captivated by good looks, asked him out for marriage. Rama politely declined her offer saying that he is already married and is completely devoted to his wife. Well, she should have immediately backed off after being a recipient to such crucial information; however she persisted.
        She then turned to his brother, Lakshmana and tried to work her charms on him too but her efforts proved futile.
        When she realised that none of the men were interested, she got enraged and indignant and leapt with full force to attack Sita and kill her (as she realised that Sita was Rama’s wife and she could take her place by killing Sita)
        As she ran with fury to attack Sita and tear her to pieces using her claws (hence her name Surpanakha), Lakshmana guided by his quick reflexes sprung to action and cut her nose in order to protect his sister-in-law from that fatal assault.

        Who’s wrong/evil doer in the incident.

        Rama who said that he won’t think of any other woman other than his wife Sita and politely declined her proposal inspite of Surpanakha’s persistence.
        Lakshmana who safeguarded his sister-in-law from the FATAL attack which could have claimed her life by severing the nose of Surpanakha; I think he was quite merciful as she just got away with a severed nose.
        Surpanakha who believed on making an indecent proposal to a married man even after she acquired knowledge about Rama’s marital status and and then proceeded to brutally kill Rama’s wife after her failed attempts at persuading Rama to marry her.
        Did she have sympathy for Sita whose husband she was lusting after?

        She was a demoness, not because she was born in a demon-clan but by the virtue of her own despicable actions and nature.

        Are you trying to say that a woman no matter how evil she is, can & should never be punished for her actions in a society?
        Are you trying to say that such a woman will & should go unharmed and deserves compassion in what you the so called ‘UN-patriarchal’ society?
        Do you think that a man in such similar situations should be excused? (I personally feel he shouldn’t be)

        So, I hope that Surpanakha will NOT be a recipent of your misdirected sympathies in future.

        You can also seek solace from the fact that he protected his elder brother’s wife and not his own mother.

        I am saying so because many here would believe that a guy has no right to protect his own innocent mother from any attack by any woman (who could be anyone including his own wife)

        And, I believe and hopefully others too (& if they don’t, then I don’t care) Lakshmana should have followed the same plan of action (yes, it was quite impulsive since that was the need of the hour), had Rama been attacked in place of Sita since men do have an equal right to protect other innocent men from attacks by such women (the severity of crime perpetrated by a woman won’t decrease just because a man instead of a woman is now at the receiving end)


    • Clueless. Congratulations on your demotion from “Adarsh Bharatiya Nari” into modern-day destroyer of “Indian values”/ Soorpanakha.

      The anguish in that comment is heartfelt. Does that person actually believe that Indian culture can be destroyed by a women’s clothing choices?

      Dear god, how awful it must be to wake up everyday and see your culture “eroded” by the neighbour’s daughter’s new Levi’s. 🙂


  3. Are attacks on young ppl in Mangalore just a law and order problem? If it is so would we have discussed it at such a length here or similar places like this on net? Is it enough to just blame the Police?
    Mangalore attacks were actions of feudal and Communal Patriarchy to gain control of young ppl by violence. They were trying to prevent friendships between ppl of different gender so that they can continue to have power to chose the spouse. They also want to prevent friendships between girls and boys of different religion because such a humanist culture is the biggest threat for communalism. These ppl belong to Sangh Parivar, the ruling party of Karnataka and that is why Police seems to be helpless. They also have the silent support of Islamists and Church because all of them fear a Humanist culture.
    It is important not to mistake this as just a law and order problem.
    Extortion may be a good business proportion to the extorter but for businesses as a whole who are the victims it is bad.


    • You are right, these fringe elements fear that greater mingling of the sexes will result in fewer women for them to marry.

      Which woman would want to marry a man who treats her like she was his personal property, has little education, little character or integrity (think Suresh Padil) when she can meet men her age in cafes and pubs and be treated like a real person?

      Neo’s blog has an old post which I found very insightful:


    • That, I think, is a ridiculous comment! Sorry for coming on strong, but how do you compare keeping tabs on what impressionable children are doing to what grown adults are? I think it is a failure of parenting that these goons have the beliefs they do. If every parent tackled the problem on their own turf, it would go a long way towards changing mindsets.


  4. Sadly, this type of faux “moral policing” appears to be a carefully orchestrated strategy used by political parties. The recent events in Mangalore once again bring this into stark focus: appeal to the repressed righteousness of the (voting) middle-class and you can get away with just about any immoral, unethical, or criminal act.
    I’ve experienced this personally some 5 years ago in Mumbai – a close friend’s driver was attacked and beaten up by “activists” of a local, communal party. After breaking his nose and thrashing him, they *then* called the police to complain that he was eve-teasing school girls. A single cop actually showed up to advise the bleeding, crying man that he should not file any complaint to “avoid complications”.
    The real reason turned out to be very simple: the local MLA owned a fleet of private taxis and he had decided the public road outside our office building was his undisturbed parking zone. My friend’s driver had been warned once before not to park there, but he did.
    Yes, moral policing does make business sense… at least to our extremist political parties.
    And, sadly, I’m afraid it is working only too well…


  5. “…she also said that preventing such incidents from taking place is more important than taking action on culprits.”
    Maybe someone should suggest to her that taking action against the culprits will go a long way in preventing such incidents.


  6. Moral policing may make business sense, but we’re missing the point if we’re talking about that as some kind of explanation for why this happens. The same strategy would certainly not work, in say, Norway, because most Norwegians would not consider it a part of their culture to stop young people from partying together. Moral policing makes business sense if and only if the society it occurs in is prepared to forgive and forget, as long as the excuse of ‘upholding our culture’ can be put forward, as long as a majority of people agree with the ends of the perpetrators, even if not the means.

    The underlying culture acts as an enabler; the act itself is only a manifestation of that culture.


  7. The likes of Subash Padil are necessary to keep caste politics alive. He provides the muscle power to do ‘unclean’ jobs for those in power. Tomorrow, he will get a party ticket. Somewhere in our lifetime, he will sit in the parliament. It is a well tested template.

    But more than that – these last 48 hours have been an education for me. I’ve never felt so sad, so betrayed. As you know we stumbled upon those articles/blogs about rape. One says many women desire to be raped. And this foul article has been applauded by other women and men. In an another blog, the author surmises that the outrage men feel when they hear of rape is actually jealousy. Somewhere within them, they feel jealous that the rapist managed to have sex. There are many who applauded his analysis. He has written that while he does not condone rape – but this is what he feels. Now, we cannot protest against the way someone feels, and esp when that someone actually speaks the truth. We can find his thoughts, his reasoning horrifying – but that is the way he feels. And yes, there are a lot of comments supporting his analysis, and some who did not agree were vehemently put down.

    And I thought about that girl in Guwahati. I thought about the horror she went through. And now, I think – okay there are men out there who actually felt jealous of Amar Jyoti Kalita, and wished they had a piece of that action. I think of the women dragged into cars and gang-raped. And I think – okay there are men who felt jealous of the rapists and wished they were in the car too. I think of young Prathiba, working in HP’s BPO arm, who set out in her company car to attend her night shift. The company driver raped her at knife point and killed her. I think okay – there are men who are jealous of this cab driver…they wished they were with him, pinning her down and slitting her throat as they had sex with her. And worst of all – I think of the men and women who, somewhere in the dark, decaying recesses of their mind, actually think that the Guwahati girl, Prathiba and several of the rape victims subconsciously fantasised being raped.

    I don’t feel any reaction anymore to any of the idiots telling women are responsible for crimes against them. The rot and decay is very deep-rooted and vastly spread. There was a time when people thought diseases of the body would end human civilization – plague, cancer, aids. Now it is clear what will end the world – decaying souls and filthy minds.


    • @Moonbeam

      I know exactly how you feel. At my workplace (this is an MNC IT company) I have discussed these topics with my co-workers, and the men has a firm belief that the girl is at fault. “Provocatively dressed” is a favourite term actually. Earlier I used to argue, tried to show them the twisted logic, but their mindset is so set it is impossible to change. Nowadays I feel so resigned. It is as if we have no hope . We women are always at fault , do what we may. If a bunch of men who are well-educated, well-earning engineers think like that, what else can we expect from a cab driver?


      • And do they believe that if all Indian women were dressed in conservative clothing (like in Saudi Arabia) then women’s eyes and toes and voices would not be enough to provoke rapists to rape them? That even if the provocation logic was accepted, it’s about criminals getting used to seeing women as equal and free people, not as sex objects, and then understanding that women are sexual people with their own right to decide who they wish to sleep with, and hence finding them attractive is not reason enough to rape them?

        And ofcourse silencing the victims by shaming and blaming, and making excuses for the culprits is the reason why India is such a bad place for being a woman – the fourth worst place is the world.

        These people should be asked if they would like to have daughters and how would they like to raise them – as second class citizens who pay taxes but have no rights to public spaces, self reliance, pleasure, freedom etc?


        • IHM & Tanny – yes…they never accept that it is not what the woman wears – it is what the guy knows what’s underneath the clothes.

          And this is how we are beaten. We get tired or repeating the same thing. We just slip into silence eventually. Because now it is not just our social circle – it is a wider section that thinks a woman has to be controlled and curtailed to prevent crime. Parents who don’t bring up sons well, parents who don’t bring up daughters well, and an entire system – political, educational and law enforcing agencies which ALSO believe in the same logic – crimes against women can be decreased if women become invisible. So stamp her, snuff her out chase her back to some dark corner where she is not seen and heard.


        • I have family in the “Kingdon of Saudi Arabia” where all women have to be veiled from head to toe.

          All malls are “family only” and groups of single men are barred entry into them.

          That does not stop young men from waiting outside the malls, trying to tell a woman’s age based on her footwear. A pair of pink sneakers indicate a young woman in her teens/twenties and the young men can then scrawl their mobile number on chits of paper and then throw them at her.

          The more conservative a society becomes, the more sexually frustrated its men become and the more vulnerable its women become to violence.

          Unlike their Saudi Arabian counterparts, young men in Southern California do not feel compelled to haunt malls and throw peices of paper at women they are interested in.

          Young women are not sexually molested by fifty men smiling unashamedly at the TV cameras pointed at them.Hmm, wonder why that is?

          We then have the audacity to believe that the West is “uncivilised and immoral”.

          No sirreebob, WE are uncivilised and immoral because we fail to grant basic human rights to the weakest members of our society.

          We are immoral because we then justify this failure and blame the victims instead.

          To me, Indian culture is just about sanctioning injustice and looking the other way as another human being suffers injustice.


      • @TB, Before you resign out of the argument, just ask your co-workers this specific question: “Even if women were to dress provocatively, who gave them the right to touch her?”

        I think the term “provocative” is very subjective and a debate based on this term will be always inconclusive. But, when it this leads to getting physical, it is a different matter altogether!


        • Chandru…somewhere some of these men DO think it is their right! that is where the problem is – they feel entitled to behave any which way. Anything can provoke them – even a toe nail – but because we have a society that staunchly supports the rapists excuse of being provoked, this has become a standard excuse.


        • @Moonbeam, while I agree that “we have a society that staunchly supports the rapists excuse of being provoked, this has become a standard excuse”, I beg to differ from the point “anything can provoke them – even a toe nail”…

          IMO, deep down the psyche of these men, there is something else which is causing this to happen. If a psychiatrist digs the rogue’s subconscious mind, I am sure she will find a different reason than the reason this man gives. As you rightly pointed out, the society accepts this totally illogical excuse and so these men get away with it!

          Yes, I really feel this problem is not a shallow one but “the rot and decay is very deep-rooted and vastly spread” as you said above. And if I try to answer what puts this rotten impression in their psyche, I am not able to point to one single social evil! It beats me!!


    • Moonbeam, I’ve begun to believe that perhaps most men can turn into monsters given enough provocation and the right circumstances.

      If online forums are any indication, large masses of Indian men seem to be grappling with enormous sexual frustration and resulting anger.

      Astonishingly, it appears that many men blame women for their thwarted sexual desires.

      The logic is — “I found her attractive and was aroused. I felt ashamed of my arousal and got angry. SHE did this to me. It’s HER fault. SHE needs to pay.”

      As a woman, this line of thinking confounds me, no matter how I look at it.

      If a man arouses me sexually, and I cannot act on my desires, it’s MY problem, not his. For some reason many men cannot grasp this argument.


      • The ‘resulting anger’ and the blaming of women is little more than an attempt to explain away unacceptable behavior, behavior which the person knows is unacceptable.

        Blaming the outgroup for the problems of the ingroup is a rationalization strategy as old as humanity itself. The misogynistic claim of women being responsible for male problems is bigotry, at par with standard racism and xenophobia, and it should be abhorred to the same degree in civilized discourse.


    • I agree with you to some extent. I agree that humans can be a very rotten bunch. However, let’s look at this in a somewhat broader perspective.

      In theory as in real life, there are really only two parameters when it comes to channelizing the actions of an individual into a particular form. There are only two ‘dials’ which can twiddled to produce different human actions and reactions under similar circumstances. You can change:

      a) The person behind the actions; and
      b) The systems which guide those actions

      Having spent nearly two decades in corporate hierarchies, and having managed literally thousands of people at different levels, my own experience tells me that it is pointless to try and improve adult individuals. Most people never really change in their fundamental approach once they’re adults. They change only in response to situations that reward or punish them based on their actions. As a manager, you cannot really mold individuals. What you can do is mold policies such that flawed individuals can perform just as well.

      Cultural psychologies do not change in a day. It takes ages and ages, takes several generations to slowly, inexorably shift towards something different. That process must continue, through more education, through more openness, but what facilitates that process is the system that lies underneath social structures, the risk/reward/punishment mechanisms, the redressal mechanisms, the overall justice delivery mechanisms that are at work. It is only when everyone realizes that sexual harassment is likely to result in very negative consequences that it would reduce in any meaningful sense. It is only when people realize that rape is likely to be punished that rapes will reduce. This is not rocket science, it’s common sense, it’s the essence of what is called ‘conventional management wisdom’. People may be rotten, but rotten people can be brought in line too.

      It is only a matter of gathering the will to improve how things work around here. Unfortunately, that will does not exist.

      Of course, the reasons for that could be the subject of a dissertation in itself.


      • What you said here about the two things that can be changed: the person or the system – This is one of the frequent topics of discussion between me and my husband! On what is the most “efficient” and optimum way to bring about a change. While one can always change the system to guide certain actions, that system will not be fully functional unless you change the individuals at the very basic level, because otherwise adults always have way of finding loopholes in the system (like the way it happens now). Plus, we should also keep in mind that the system itself is comprised of “not so perfect” and rotten adults whose thought process can be shocking and nerve-racking. In that case then, how can we even ensure that the system is strong enough to bring rotten people in line.


        • Good arguments, but I don’t completely agree.

          In my experience, changing an individual at the very basic level is neither possible nor necessary to ensure that most people comply with basic rules most of the time. Of course, some individuals will find loopholes, but that is to be expected. No system is perfect.

          It’s not impossible to ensure that a system brings about desirable outcomes even if the system itself is composed of disinterested or even actively hostile parties.

          Democracy itself is a prime example of this. Unlike, say, a communist system, democracy is based on what can be called a cynical worldview. It proceeds under the assumption that elected officials, like everyone else, are motivated primarily by personal gain, and not public service. Therefore, it provides personal incentives for governance which benefits a majority of people (re-election) and disincentives for governance that does not (being booted out of power). By creating this system of proverbial carrots and sticks, it ensures a minimal level of accountability to the general public, which is a huge improvement over pretty much every other system of governance (which do not provide any such guarantees). Democracy is not perfect, because it produces a lot of undesirable outcomes as well, but it’s a tested model, and it’s probably the best we have.

          Consider the system of carbon credits. It is safe to say that most business owners do not give a flying fig about the environment. It is also safe to say that they do care about the bottom line. By making it profitable to be environment-friendly, we ensure that people who do not care for environmentalist objectives end up actively working towards those objectives. Again, not a perfect system, but it’s preferable to lip-service.

          The crux of my argument is that you cannot expect people to be noble. You must assume that people are selfish, idiotic, ignorant and evil, and proceed from that misanthropic view. I’m not claiming that most people are like that, but our framework should be resilient enough to handle the people who are indeed like that.

          While creating better citizens is something that must go on, something that must not stop, the immediate challenge is to create systems which make it much harder for BAD citizens to do wrong. Easier said than done, obviously, but not impossible with the right amount of will.


      • PT, I agree. However, do you believe violence against women can only be controlled by legal mechanisms? The failure of the law and order machinery is one aspect of it, albeit an imporant one.

        I was wondering if violence against women has increased in the past few years or whether is was always as rampant as it appears to be right now. I feel as if our social fabric is slowly unravelling.

        No outrage is unheard of these days. From the rape of infants to the abuse of children in state-funded remand homes — we seem to be touching new lows everyday. Our culture is need of urgent springcleaning.

        Have we always been so forgiving of injustice?


        • In the past sexual assaults were not considered serious offences, victims were honor killed or pressured to take their own lives. Reporting of crimes, by the victim and media is modern western influence.


        • I was not talking exclusively about legal mechanisms, although my own training and education tends to tempt me into focusing on those. A disincentive does not have to be legal. Social sanction is often far more effective than legal sanction, for example.

          I don’t think things have become worse for women, really. I grew up in the 70s and early 80s myself, and I completely agree with IHM. There was simply no outrage back then. Rape? Meh. Gang Rape? Meh. Honor killing? Meh. Rape and murder? Meh. The police is doing their job. The culprits will be caught. No big deal.

          That was how it was. The difference is in the perception. Nowadays, you’ve got 24×7 media channels shrilly expressing outrage at every opportunity (not a bad thing at all, IMO).

          The social fabric has been this way for a while. In fact, it was a lot worse earlier. It’s probably just that we actually hear about this stuff now, it’s a lot harder to hide and more importantly, far more people have exposure to a value system which allows them to feel outraged by such actions.

          Anybody who says things are worse today than 40 years ago is sadly mistaken.


  8. Just lame excuses, all of them. I have been harassed many more times in a school uniform in broad daylight than when wearing jeans and going out at night.
    It is a very lucrative alternative to doing a job, or even robbery isn’t it? No sneaking around, no fear of being caught. Just have ‘fun’, harass and loot people in broad daylight anytime you want. And if you get caught just utter the magic words ‘Indian culture’ and walk away scot free!


  9. Here is another opinion piece that obfuscates the issue and implies, in a roundabout way, that “Old India” should not be blamed for rejecting the “vodka shots” version of modernity. They need TIME to accept social changes and the notion of female autonomy.

    Santosh Desai’s column left me completely befuddled. Is it so hard to condemn the HJV attacks unequivocally? Where is the need to justify the assualts? Why the anguished appeals to UNDERSTAND the perpetrators’ motives?

    Mr Desai condemns the attacks but also seems to say, “Yes, yes, violence is inexcusable, but…but…but, think of why those poor young men got so enraged”.

    No, THANK YOU. Those young men could have protested peacefully outside the resort if they were so anguished by the goings-on inside. They had NO RIGHT to beat up those young people .

    There are a hundred ways of expressing dissent. Molesting young women is NOT one of them.

    Sorry Mr Desai,Santosh Padil’s rights begin where mine end.


    • Even if we were finding reasons for why the young men did what they did, I wouldn’t quite agree with Desai’s analysis.

      I suppose I am preaching to the choir here, but I did happen to read that piece, and I remember thinking that the arguments sounded flawed. I didn’t think further on those lines at that point of time, but let’s consider it now.

      I think it’s very tempting to create an old/new dichotomy and portray such events in the context of that dichotomy. It even sounds plausible to an extent. The claim is that Indian women have ‘moved on’ faster than men on average in sociological terms, which seems true enough. The second claim is that many men feel threatened by that. Probably true as well. The argument, then, is that this threat caused them to behave the way they did, that it was a manifestation of the sensation of being threatened, a reaction of the old against the new, if you will. This may sound like a good analysis at first, but on closer examination one realizes that such an explanation does not bear closer scrutiny.

      For one, what happened in Mangalore is not something that has origins in modern times. Women (and, to a lesser extent, men) have been beaten/humiliated/harassed for violating patriarchal norms for ages. It is not a new concept.

      Second, the analysis ignores the more obvious, tangible motivations (eg: Money, Notoriety) that these perpetrators might have had.

      Third, while women may have progressed, there isn’t any evidence of an actual fundamental shift in the power dynamic of this culture. The patriarchs call the shots for the most part, just as they used to; it’s still a very conservative society, and a few female pub goers are not sufficient proof of the contrary. Of course, perceptions may be different from the perpetrators’ point of view, but why those perceptions exist is something that this piece does not even attempt to explain.

      Of course, the point about not excusing the culprits is very valid; whether our flawed judicial system can actually deliver justice is another story altogether.


      • Precisely PT. I was rankled a little by his column, though I could not analyse it as cogently as you have.

        Using Mr Desai’s logic, we can explain away violence against Dalits in rural India by claiming that it’s “Old India” fighting back. We can argue that Dalits need to “understand” upper-caste anguish about altered power equations.

        Few columnists try to justify caste-based or communal violence by using the same argument.
        Yet violence against women can be explained away or justified.

        Also Mr Desai’s unjustified sneering of “vodka shots” and “mall-centric” consumerism unsettled me. How does that contribute to violence against women?

        As if hordes of Indian women are banging down pub doors and invading malls shouting, “We want modernity. We want tequila shots.We want discounts on CK and Prada.”

        Most Indian women are just trying to make the most of the few opportunities our culture allows them. They are trying to make do with whatever little respect and dignity society offers them.

        Thanks for the analysis. It was insightful as always. 🙂


      • Interesting analysis. Although I wonder if the idea of ‘women having progressed more than men’ is all that true. The young men who act as ‘moral police’ are not representative of the state of Indian men in today, the same way the young women who visit pubs aren’t. A lot of young men in the pubs were beaten and manhandled by these ‘moral police’ as well, so what India do they come from? When women are oppressed, a large section of men are oppressed as well, because one gender cannot really be free without the other being free as well.
        Also, the notions of ‘progressive’ in inherently subjective. The Khasi culture for example, was always oriented towards serial monogamy where marriages were loosely enforced and divorce was easily available. Now, with the advent of Christian values, the shift has been towards long term monogamy, which is for the record, considered a sign of ‘progress of the Khasi culture’. Also, another sign of ‘progress’ has been the gradual shift towards patriarchal system from the traditional matriarchy (which is thought of as primitive and out-of-sync with the modern world, by both Khasi men and women alike). Progress hence, is subjective and culturally relative. What is progress in my culture might be regressive in yours.


  10. //”Karnataka women’s panel boss says
    …she also said that preventing such incidents from taking place is more important than taking action on culprits…”//

    Well, I don’t see why people are driving/walking on bad roads. Preventing accidents is more important. Isn’t it? So instead of asking that the roads be repaired, people should just stay put at home, safely.


    • That cracked me up. Well-said Shail. 🙂 Between C Majula and Jagadish Karanth, I’d pick the latter anyday. At least he’s not mooching off my taxes like this apology of a woman.

      Mamata Sharma and Manjula ought to be left in the midst of a hundred drunken HJV men who have no idea that they hold public office. The goons can teach them a few lessons on provocative clothing and Indian culture.


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