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The Kiss of Love campaign is a response to moral policing, which seems to be taking over the lives of Indians, slowly and steadily. It’s time we resist this policing, says this post.
By the time this piece goes online, Marine Drive at Kochi, Kerala will have (hopefully) witnessed its most rebellious, poignant, significant, photogenic, brave, tongue-in-cheek (pun intended), newsworthy, ‘show-the-finger’ moment at 5 PM, on the 2nd day of November.
At least three thousand people, most of them youngsters, participants of the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign, plan to assemble there, and the couples/families/friends among them will exchange a kiss or hug – in public. For those of our readers who have perhaps missed the news, and are wondering if this is a kiss-fest or something gimmicky – some quick background info:
On the 23rd of October, a Congress-backed TV channel called JaiHind TV had telecast footage taken by a hidden camera, of a group of youngsters hugging and kissing outside a cafe in Kozhikode in Kerala. The commentary used words like lewd, immoral, misuse of public space. Following this, a group of people, allegedly belonging to the BJP-backed Yuva Morcha, vandalised the cafe.
The cafe was shut at this time, and thankfully, no one was hurt, but surprisingly enough, cameras were waiting to capture this criminal overreaction. The footage of this was uploaded and Twittered about.
In response to this, the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign was started by Pasupalan, a short-film maker, and Kuriakose, a researcher. They have appealed to people (friends, siblings, parents as well) online to protest this moral policing, by taking part in the Kiss of Love campaign at Kochi Marine drive.
Nearly 6,600 youngsters have already signed up on Facebook, in what is being called Kerala’s Pink Chaddi moment.
The Kerala High Court has refused to intervene (two petitions were submitted), but the police are balking at giving permission for this event. If there is “disruption of traffic” – they will intervene, they say. The organisers say that posters made by them have already been torn up once by BJP workers, but they are going ahead with the event. “It is a gathering of like-minded people to protest against moral policing. We are independent thinkers and this is a gathering of the Facebook users.”
Here’s hoping that the gathering is peaceful and successful!
Is it just the right to kiss and hug that is at stake, or is there something more? Aren’t people assuming that they can make our life-decisions for us? What gave the TV channel the right to invade the privacy of these youngsters and record it without their knowledge?
Moral policing is something that the residents of 21st century India are being subjected to, with depressing regularity. While we claim to have leaped into the 21st century, the morals and attitudes of some are still entrenched in a time gone by. Ram Sene men attacking women outside pubs in Bangalore, and the ‘love-jihad’ hysteria – are all recent examples that many of our countrymen are still collectively trying to impose strictures on the way other Indians live their life. A point to be noted is that these persons are affiliated with fundamentalist organizations and political parties.
Not surprisingly, many of the targets are usually women. “In Indian culture, women are not supposed to be seen or heard, how dare they associate with young persons of the opposite sex, eh?” is usually the message.
Personally, I am not a fan of Public Display of Affection (PDA), but that only means that I will not indulge in it. What another does, or does not do, is a matter for that person to decide. Often, couples in love are just that – people in love, and dying to express it!
What also alarms me is that moral policing never ends on a tame note. Who knows where this interpretation of Indian Culture will lead us? From policing public affection, it is not a leap to imagine a day when the very fabric of our lives will be under some microscope of Tradition, and we will be forced to change ourselves or face repercussions (legal or vigilante). Our hard-fought (and won) freedoms are being questioned by ignoramuses.
Already happening in some ways, ladies – what clothes to wear (‘she was raped because she wore a mini’), where to go (‘girls from ‘good’ families don’t go to pubs’), What working hours to keep (‘Oh! Home by seven – you are a female’), what choice of partners to make (‘Love-jihad’, Khap-panchayat), hugging a friend( ‘294A IPC lagayega’) – all choices are being subtly/overtly made for us!
Ahh! and one more, how could we forget? ‘no gays, please (section 377, IPC)’
One step forward and two steps backward; is that the story of our lives?
Pic credit: Image of a kiss of love via Shutterstock.
I am Ujwala Shenoy Karmarkar. I love reading, meeting people, listening to music, watching plays,
Thanks for writing this, Ujwala. While the Kiss of Love event seems to have run into some trouble (what else to expect, with such ridiculous moral police around), I salute the courage of the participants. Seriously, this is a country where it is ok to pee on the road, and stink up every footpath, but not a simple gesture of affection!
I should think this link says it all. The police arrested the organisers even before they could reach the venue. Then proceeded to bundle up the rest into police vans AT the venue. TV footage shows the onlookers who had come staring and it was a DAVID v/s GOLIATH scenario. Sad…
You spoke my mind … Infact was planning to write on “kiss of love” today and this article caught me by surprise..You have written it very authoritatively than what i myself had in mind….shows how fast women’s web is catching up on current issues…
And yes down with all these types of moral polices and psuedo patrons of culture !!
In the past two days, since the FB page of Kiss of Love got over 60,000 likes, the page was hacked (those of the organizers as well) and all disappeared overnight. ( It has since been reinstated!)
While this raises concerns about the norms and rules of FB, it also CONVERSELY points to the fact that right-wing elements were alarmed enough by the popularity of the movement to resort to this.
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