The Government Knows Only Gandharis

Part I


Rumours, we are told, grow on trees. They fan and flower and come to fruition poised on the flimsiest excuses for a truth. We could call them lies, others could call them half-truths. It is really a matter of fence-straddling: you get to choose your point, depending on whether you create or are created.

Where the rumour of the ban on pornography originated, I do not know. It must have taken some Jehovah of a Parliamentarian to have let loose such pestilence on the student community! The intellectual lamps lit in the exam-eve season across the country united in expressing mute rejection. In triumphant disbelief, collections of porn films were assembled as each of us, poor students, mocked at such frivolous dares. We could call the bluff as well!

But what followed was arm-flexing, a terrible injustice ungovernable by the law-courts in the country. The power lords did not care about the enthusiasm infused by the promise of a porn-film treat, a chapter later.The mourning was uniform in our affected community. The rainbow-bursts of happiness were yet to engulf the kaleidoscopic brilliance that Tolstoy attributed to sadness.

And then it transpired that it is not just a government congratulating itself but a whole market of budding writers to contend with. The pulp-fiction industry might, for once, breathe free of the astounding success of the likes of the notorious palette of Gray. Writers may now belt out(because graphic derives from graphos which means to write, or, draw) sweet, pure, happy-endings love stories with impunity. Similarly, carrying condoms in wallets or pockets will become a low-risk practice for literature on condom packets will be effaced, along with the accompanying sensuous illustrations. Minus the obvious clues, avoiding detection by younger family members would be cake-walk!

The rates of rape, as the optimistic government assures, will see a slow decline in the absence of such blood-warming, hormone-firing actions. With the lack of such triggers for physical passion, undoubtedly, even consensual sexual activity would chart a decrease? It would then, take down the growth rateof population as well.

Simultaneously therefore, the problems of religious aggression would be curbed. Bells would clang in opulent mandirs, muezzins echo across resplendent mosques, incense smoke through latticed gurudwaras and candles sigh in the loneliness of churches. In the monuments to religion, secularism would rest supreme. For who would fight, or be a fundamentalist if the pleasure of sex be defeated?

Assured of the efficiency of the government, I applaud the foresight that uses one stroke to solve the maelstrom of politico-religious troubles. There have been many who call me mindless and/or delusional. But even they cannot ignore the romance of a country where dreams are being born.

– Pritha Mukherjee

Part II

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An old man in Wellington St. in Kolkata sells, among a motley assortment of pulp literature, Hindi and Bengali erotica. Stacks of slim, shoddily printed copies with voluptuous women and mustachioed men and frank titles. If you stop for a moment to cast a casual glance, he would enthusiastically try to hand you a few of these, gleefully mumbling how good they are. If you don’t reciprocate his enthusiasm, he stares with a mocking mischievous smile until you are completely unnerved, and have walked away.

Curiously, he does not do that if you have a woman by your side. Then he patiently watches you browse through his small collection, and embarrass yourself. I had always thought this habit to be the residue of old school gentlemanly patriarchy, but a few days back when the Indian govt. banned pornography, in the aim to achieve a clean, Swachh Internet, this gentlemanly predisposition was resounded by a crude and hostile lawyer, who had put in the petition to ban pornography in India. Apparently, he has said that to even think that the Indian woman watches porn would be to gravely insult her dignity.

After the court proceedings of the Delhi-rape case, and especially when BBC’s India’s Daughter put forward the opinions from the different strata of the country’s citizenry, such regressive, oppressive, fascist-propagandist patriarchal opinions shocked many, more so because they could relate to the sentiments. So now this new comment comes as no surprise. What might have happened is that it has lost some of its shock-value in repetition, and appears almost moronically ridiculous in its denial.

Although it is a cliché argument, but it is nevertheless true that we are too used to watch and think of pornography as an exclusively male commodity: by the men, of the men and for the men. And it would not be an entirely baseless assumption, given how porn films are shot almost exclusively from the male point of view. In this hypersexualised universe, the females are wholly fictional props, doing as we desire, almost too eager to please. It would not be, therefore, an unfounded fear that such a viewing practice would bleed out of the screen and permeate real life, and warp common sense and knowledge about the just-as-much humanness of the other sex. But, they have the scene a bit wrong. Because they are already doing it. It is perhaps not the mass that needs restraints to turn not into ‘sex-maniacs’, as a certain govt. official put it, but the government that needs a training in sanity and common sense. Whether women watch pornography is not the concern, the effortless and overconfident assumption that they do not, absolutely cannot, is. By binding half of the population in absurd definitions, by super-supposing what they do and do not do, and what they might be allowed to do and not, we are relegating/pushing them into the realm of unreality. We are making women into myths, phantoms, and incongruous fictions.

– Souraj Dutta

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