From beef to porn, why we must support BJP's stupid bans

Our only hope against the government's majoritarianism is its own ability to alienate the majority.

 |  4-minute read |   04-08-2015
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I was taking an autorickshaw after watching a movie late one night. There were two autowalas, busy on one phone line. The younger of the two autowalas drove me home. What were you guys doing on the phone, I asked him. "That guy has just bought a BlackBerry," he said, "I was teaching him how to use the internet."

This has always been the story of the internet: the young teach the old. It was a second-hand phone, purchased for Rs 5,000. What will he do on the internet, I asked. "Arre, he wanted to see blue film. So I showed him how to go on Google and type blue film."

I asked him more about what he and his friends did on the mobile internet. Three things, he said: porn, Facebook and music downloads.

Across the world, online porn has been one of the major drivers of internet usage. It's one of the first things people do when they get access to the WWW. Porn addiction drives internet addiction. It is a myth that women don't watch porn, and there is little evidence that online porn has led to greater violence against women.

The first case of internet censorship in India was in 1999 when the government blocked Pakistani news site Dawn.com during the Kargil war. Since then, internet censorship has grown by leaps and bounds. All kinds of things the government of India has stupidly tried to censor on the internet. With the exception of SavitaBhabhi.com, porn was never on the agenda.

Come to think of it, it is surprising that it took so long for the fuddy-duddy Bharat sarkar to get around to worrying about online porn. We should all be grateful that Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad has decided to save our morality and decency.

Those who still want to watch online porn will get around to using VPNs, softwares that mask your IP address, preventing your internet service provider and the prying government alike from seeing what you are doing on the internet. You may get an American or Icelandic or Australian IP address, and the sites blocked in your country and suddenly accessible. YouTube is blocked in Pakistan, but my Pakistani friends post YouTube links all the time. VPN zindabad!

Meanwhile, people will be pissed off at this government interference in their private lives. In all these years, online porn has killed no one. This is the sort of issue which won't be debated in elections, but it's one of many small things which make a government look silly and add to general resentment against it.

We may not be able to protest against online porn at Jantar Mantar, but will it endear us to this government? The autowala who Googles blue films when he has nothing better to do, how do you think he feels about the Modi government right now?

By the time next elections arrive, I am confident that most of India will not have internet access. So slow is the pace of laying fibre optic cables across the length and breadth of the country, that Digital India will remain a pipe dream. Then we the people will say that Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad's biggest achievement was to prevent us from seeing naked bodies on the internet.

We know what this Victorian era laws about morality, obscenity and decency are about: they are about being ashamed of the human body. Unlike some knicker-wearing fools, most Indians are not ashamed of the human body. This is the county of the Kamasutra and Khajuraho sculptures.

Similarly, the Maharashtra government's new law banning the slaughter of every kind of bull and buffalo is affecting the agrarian economy. It is affecting farmers who are already on the brink of suicide. Other BJP-ruled states like Haryana and Jharkhand are also making it difficult to trade beef. Bravo. Piss off farmers and tell me how you plan to win the next election.

My humble suggestion to the Bharatiya Janata Party: please implement the RSS' suggestion of making alcohol prohibitively expensive. Please also ban cuss words in movies. Better still, ban movies altogether. Moving images are anti-Hindu. Take up the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's suggestion of banning river rafting in Rishikesh.

We won't criticise Sanghi intervention at the IITs if you would please go the full mile and turn them into gaushalas. What is the point of giving the FTII an unworthy chairman? How will you instil proper resentment until you give our institutions incompetent directors and faculty members too?

Please become more and more like Saudia Arabia's Wahabis and ban all merriment, banish all hope. Please give this task some jazzy campaign name, like Banning India, and do a Maun ki Baat on it. Make the Kapil Sibal mistake, bring 66A back and put people in jail for jeopardising national security with their tweets against you. We the people will suffer you with yogic patience and vote you out in 2019.

Writer

Shivam Vij Shivam Vij @dillidurast

Shivam Vij is a journalist in Delhi.

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