As we enter the New Year, two recent issues have seemingly caught the media’s attention. The never ending sequence of mass religious conversions and the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign, at opposing ends of the social spectrum, represent the distinct pathways taken by the Indian populace. Both events, however, raise uncomfortable questions about the role our state has played in articulating its stand on protecting fundamental values enshrined in our constitution.
The current administration’s complete disregard for Indian secularism was apparent in the Prime Minister’s silence on the ‘forced’ conversion issue. In a disturbing trend, the current establishment has not even made attempts to distance itself from rabid Hindu revisionist outfits. Forget distancing itself, the current administration has made no bones about its affiliation to these communal elements.
In one such instant, a union minister declared pride in affiliating himself to such an organisation. Instead of addressing the assault on the “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”, a phrase enshrined in our Preamble by our founding fathers, the government decided to launch its agenda of banning all religious conversions in India. Although the ‘Kiss of Love’ event was a wonderful attempt at undermining the basic tenets of moral policing, the response of the Congress-led Kerala state government left a lot to be desired.
In October, a news channel, run by a well-known Congressman, ran a segment that showed a young couple hugging and kissing, as part of its ‘investigative’ report on ‘immoral activities’ in a parking lot, adjacent to a cafe in Kozhikode. Moments after the telecast, members from the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, an affiliate of the BJP, vandalised the cafe. In response, Rahul Pasupalan, a film maker, and his friends decided to protest against the rising trends of moral policing and initiated the ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign to communicate their resistance. Instead of protecting these protesters from the wrath of the conservative brigade, the Kerala government sent out the police and rounded up 50-odd activists, who were planning to march towards the protest venue.
The following year will witness many such battles against the establishment. It is time we took a new year resolution to protect our fundamental rights, considering the state does not seem too keen on protecting them.