Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kiss of love..protest against attack on individual freedom not against any culture.

Recently protest movement against moral policing which was given the name 'Kiss of love' was in news. This protest was given this name because people decided to kiss each other as a form of protest against moral policing. Interestingly this protest started from state of Kerala (as far as I know) and rapidly spread in other parts of the India. As expected many organizations associated with Hindu or Muslim religion opposed these protests calling them against Indian culture and violation of civic code of conduct. Moral policing is not a new phenomena in any country, some fanatic, self declared culture protectors try to impose moral or cultural values which they think are right. These organizations don't care whether it is legal or illegal to impose these things on other people against their will, they do it under the name of protecting ancient culture or traditions. Very often protests like 'kiss of love' are blamed on influence of western culture. It is ironical that expressing love in public in any form (even holding hands or hugging each other) is considered against Indian culture which has produced works of Khajuraho and texts like Kamasutra. But extreme response of these organizations to these protests is not surprising to me but their violent reactions and justifications offered towards such violent attacks is definitely a serious concern.

Actually protests like kiss of love are not in any way attack on any culture, these protests are not also meant to insult anyone or hurt anyone but this is a way of protesting against unjust moral policing. This protest is simple way of conveying a message that you can't force your values on others. If someone is breaking the law arrest them and punish them legally, torturing them or harassing them in public is not the solution or a way to protect any culture. Moral values differ from person to person, for some eating non-vegetarian food can be a immoral thing to do, but that doesn't mean they go and beat all people who chose to eat non-vegetarian food. They definitely have right to propagate benefits of vegetarian food and drawbacks of non-vegetarian food (if at all it is there) but they don't have any right to force their moral values on others. In same way someone might think females not wearing a burqa is a immoral thing, or drinking alcohol is a sin or eating beef or pork is a sin, these people are entitled to have whatever beliefs they want but they have no right to force it on others. There is a machinery or system in every state and country to take care of things which are against law of that country please let them do their job. In real democracy people even have right to protest peacefully against any law if they feel it is a unjust law. Peaceful protests, debates and discussions are signs of healthy and inclusive society. Moral policing is not a sign of progressive, tolerant or open society rather it is a sign of regressive, intolerant and backward society. India claims itself to be very tolerant and progressive country so people should be ashamed of any attack on personal liberty in their own country.

Indian culture or for that matter any culture is not that weak that it can be threatened by just people kissing in public. It is a same culture which has produced Khajuraho temples and books like Kamasutra, so why such violent or aggressive stand against just a mere protest? And if any culture has some bad elements or repressive traditions against any community or gender then what is wrong in changing those traditions? What it is wrong in protesting against any such practices if they are still practiced in any society? Such protests should be welcomed rather than condemning them, any attack on personal liberty should be opposed. One can definitely debate the style of protest or mode of protest but to protest against anything is a basic right of any individual. Individual freedom is the sign of any progressive and liberal society, this freedom allows every individual to express themselves and live their life as per their own terms without coming under undue pressure of society or community. I hope these type of protests are taken in right spirit rather than considering as attack against any culture. Individual liberty is very important aspect of any society, I hope individual liberty and fundamental rights are respected and protected, if not then as a society we should be ready to witness many more such protests. It will be interesting to see how many attempts are made to crush such protests and what is the ultimate result of such movements.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]


  1. The society is hypocritical and jealous!

  2. Hey Vinay, I personally have two different opinions on the issues and so would like to share them with you.

    No. 1 - I don't believe moral policing would help. There is individual freedom. Then there are so many flagrant issues to be dealt with like rape, eve-teasing, corruption, drug-trafficking, child labour. Why not police them instead? They are issues which require more concern. And there are so many beer bars and wine shops in India. Is drinking alcohol what Indian culture permits? Why don't they do moral policing there? Sometime back cigarette smoking was barred in public places. There are still some people who smoke in public places. Why not moral police them?

    Moral policing is easier. Because most of the victims are youngsters and they are easy prey for such moral police. It is time they open their eyes wide enough to see issues which require more attention.

    No. 2 - For any society there have to be certain restrictions. e.g. You have freedom to wear anything but that does not mean you have freedom to roam around naked (barring children). If we allow kissing in public today (which I think is ok) people might go a step further tomorrow and demand more. There might be caressing and cuddling and intimacy in public places (which is still there I know but it not so unrestricted). Is the matter going to stop at kissing or the people might go further tomorrow and demand more so that the 'Kiss of Love' becomes 'Intimacy of Love'?

    I know I have posed 2 opposite views but I think there has to be limited freedom. The problem is where to draw the line.

    - Anita

    1. Thank you Anita for sharing your views on this topic. I can understand what you want to say. There is no doubt that individual freedom or liberty is basic necessity or sign of any progressive, tolerant and open society but liberty or freedom comes with responsibility. There is no meaning of freedom without any responsibility, I also agree that there should be some code of conduct followed by everyone when they are at public places and it is individuals responsibility to follow it.

      I think Kiss of love is just a symbolic protest where people are doing this act to register their protest against aggressive (and some times brutal) moral policing by some of these so called cultural organizations. We can argue if this mode of protest is right or wrong but the point here is first offer individual liberty and then make them aware of the responsibilities which come along with it. As long as there is attack on individual freedom of people we are going to witness protests like this in some form.

      I only hope that both sides understand that problems and differences can be resolved via dialogues and discussions. Protesters registered their point by staging the protest now there should be a peaceful dialogue to resolve the problem, it can not go like this forever.

      We already have laws to restrict nudity and other indecent acts in public and as I said rest is on individuals to follow the etiquette and code of conduct in public life. Every individual needs to decide what is good for him/her and as a society our job should be to spread that awareness that people also learn about their responsibilities along with their rights, if we can do this I think we can solve the problem to large extent. Thanks again for sharing your views.