Before protesting against the Kiss of Love campaign, better understand why it is happening!

I was surprised to see news reports that the Women’s Right Commission (WRC) chief has written to the DGP and the Home Minister asking the State to discourage the Kiss of Love protest, because she felt it was uncivilised. In some ways, it shows how little she understands what her own job is.

The WRC is intended to be a progressive body. If all that is required in a commission like this is that it should merely reflect whatever is going on in society, we would not need it at all. Child rights, women’s rights, gender rights, dalit rights, minority rights, and other focal directions for the protection of rights of Indian citizens were identified through a long struggle, and in recognition of the indiginities many people suffer simply because of their identity. The very purpose of a Rights Commission is to steer society towards more and more respect for the equality of all persons.

In such a context, it is all the more important that the different commissions should support each other. Imagine if the chairman or one commission felt that the suppression of the rights of some other group (represented by a different commission) is alright. There would be no point in such a collection. It is this line that the WRC chief has crossed.

I have no idea if Kiss of Love is civilised or uncivilised, right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, or any of those things. I also recognise that people sometimes clothe themselves in various garbs just to make claims. The Rampal incident this past week should remind us why we have to be wary of people preaching this or that in the name of culture and religion.

We all know, whether we admit it or not, that a very large number of incidents of unfair and even criminal treatment are endured by women in our society on a daily basis, and that the majority of people are silent about this. That is quite simply a matter of shame. And when a few people stand up to protest that, we are hardly qualified to sit on our high horses of culture and discredit the manner of their protest.

If the WRC really understood what is causing such protests in our country, it should redouble its efforts to be a reliable guardian of women’s rights. There are a million scoundrels to castigate first, before turning one’s attention upon a bunch of protestors, whose remonstrations may be unusual but hardly an earthquake on Indian culture.

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Ashwin Mahesh
About Ashwin Mahesh 86 Articles

Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.

3 Comments

  1. Interesting, I hadn’t heard about this turn of events yet. Let me take a moment to look at “civilized”.

    There is a distinct difference between constitutional morality (notion of good/bad right/wrong enshrined in the constitution) and public morality (notion of good/bad right/wrong of peoples). Whereas constitutional morality is defined and normative, public morality is, at best, an agglomeration of public moralities.

    In the case of the KoL protests, people are appealing to the constitutional morality, and the failure of governments to ensure rights fundamental enshrined in the constitution. Kissing in public is not the issue at stake – it is merely a form of protest. The issue at stake is moral policing. Certain sections of society deem it their right to enforce their notions of what is good/bad right/wrong on everyone else, in the name of “culture”, or in this particular post, “civilization”. To see that this is unfair, one needn’t go far. Would it be right to enforce the majority opinion on the minority? Would it be fair to say that because Hindus are so-and-so, everyone else should be so-and-so? Of course not.

    Now coming to “civilization” or “civilized”.
    civilization: n.the stage of human social development and organization which is considered most advanced.
    Agreed, relatively most advanced. The notion of advanced itself can be put to question, sure. But lets consider the entire gamut of things. Would you consider our constitution at attestment to our civilization? Would you consider the basic human rights enshrined in the civil liberty movements across the world, or in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights civilized enough? Or would you rather consider the Vedic notions civilized? If your answer to any of these questions was yes, then one can hardly object to something like kissing in public. It is just an act of affection, hurting no one else. Or in this case, it’s more powerful – it is a form of expression of dissent.

    All you can appeal to to disagree with the KoL protests is a vague notion of derivatives of Victorian morality. Even the nation from which it originated has moved on. Why do we still stick on?

    It is, however, most unfortunate that the entire point of the protests was lost. It is not about the right to kissing in public. It is about waking up to moral policing, and to stop it. The point was to shout out: You believe in a set of notions, they are your set of notions, don’t enforce it on anyone else. The point was also to critique the governments in failing to ensure our fundamental rights.

  2. As well said centuries back by the Gr8! William Shakespeare that there is nothing good or bad that thinking makes it so,and this contest people needs to understand.And not that one can do all sort of derailment stuff if that were the case then people can be NAKED without dresses like the Nomadic Age people but why the improvement happened and people learnt thinkings like using fire/cooking/clothes/etc..
    And these days our guys are becoming crazy and hyper and want to APE certain things from the Western World.Even these days France “The Romantic Country” is being decent and what is happening earlier in Delhi and now in Bangalore.Culture is getting diulted.Govt should not allow these kind of Activities else the Next Gen in India the situation will be like “Wife and Husband and they will be talking hey u see Your Children and My Children are Playing with Our Children(1)” this kind of situation shouldn’t come and things shouldn’t get degraded to such an extent.And if things aren’t taken into control now in the NextGen situation will be like (1) CHARACTER building is v.much Important 🙂

  3. I agree with you 100%. [Even I have no idea what the protest is about, but I support their right to protest]. I think the DGP and the WRC are trying to be politically correct – as in, ‘I agree with khaps, because I want to keep my job/power/…’ Put more bluntly, the people in these positions are unfit for the position they hold.

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