Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It all started with a kiss.....

The ‘Kiss of Love Campaign’ sabotaged by the police, has in a way worked in favour of the protesters. The whole campaign began on social media after a coffee shop in north Kerala’s Kozhikode, city was vandalised last week by a group of people who criticized the public display of affection (PDA) by some couples there. The campaign fizzled out even before students could use a public place to mark their protest against moral policing in Kochi, Kerala. The Kerala high court refused to intervene and police had denied permission for the event, and had said they would only intervene if it created a law and order problem.
However, the police rounded up the 50-odd activists who were planning to march towards Marine Drive, the venue of the event, to protest against moral policing.

Expressing her views, Seema Sood, Director, Events and PR, Leo Burnett, added, “This was an amazing campaign. Moral policing should not be done for people expressing their love. We are a democratic nation, where freedom of action, speech should be allowed and accepted. PDA should be allowed in society. We are a land of the Kamasutra, and no one should be stopped from expressing love and warmth.”

India is growing at a rapid pace. Exposure to the outside world is changing mindsets. Along with that, behavioral changes are also taking place. Today’s GEN X is more open, more aware and a lot more vocal about their likes and dislikes. The have access to social media to protest.

“The youth of today is very different. Their exposure is different. The way they express affection is different. We cannot put a ban on PDA. The youth is exposed to different forms of media. In today’s changing world scenario, we cannot have gender roles and expect a particular behaviour from one gender group. We cannot tell girls not to go to pubs, not to go out late in the night. As gender roles are blending, the more conservative groups see this as a threat. The campaign is a defiance from the youth, as a way of saying that we also have a voice and want to be heard,” adds Dr. A . L. Sharada, Director, Population First.

However, there is always a flip side to every story. When there are winds of change blowing, there will always be different schools of thoughts that will be against the change. The open display of affection, the protests against moral policing is being viewed as a threat by groups people and government officials averse to change.

On one hand, we want to call ourselves modern and open minded, but don’t want to give up on our so called India culture. Says Tina Mehta, Brand Consultant, Lightbox, “Culture is living, breathing thing. People blame things on our Indian culture, saying this is not identified with our Indian culture and values. However, culture is very dynamic. The fact that a group of youth is expressing themselves is a big indication of change.”

She further adds, ” However, we need to realize that mindsets and perceptions will not change overnight. India as a country is opening up, but it will take a while for overall acceptance. With reference to the campaign , I’d say, well, good, well done.The right community of people have been touched by reaching out to , that is the youth, via a Facebook campaign. The main thing is not how long it will take to change things, but the fact that the campaign created awareness is a big step.”

Protesting against moral policing is not new or unheard thing in India. Earlier campaigns like Pink Chaddi, protested against moral policing and the Slut Walk, called for an end to rape culture.

Trying to bury an issue under the guise of law, will not end the problem. The issues that mater to the youth have to be given a platform to be expressed. Says Sharada, “The government officials should have handled the protesters with more maturity.Things do not bode well for a country that tries to quieten the voice of the youth". Adds Mehta, “ The good thing about the campaign was that media was able to pick it up. Had it not received media attention, it would have been one of the many incidents that happened in some part of India. The objective of the campaign, which was to protest against moral policing, was achieved.”
Parallel to the police’s reaction to the campaign, Sood adds, “On the same note, archaic laws which are anti-women should be banned. The police should invest all their energies in catching criminals in India and not people who spread love and happiness. “

So are things looking bleak for the youth of today, who are being exposed to the world via social, electronic and web media. Well ,as of now it looks like the more liberal they want to get, the bigger is the backlash from people who want to cling on to more conservative mindsets.

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