I’ve always thought of myself as a proud Indian, despite national embarrassments such as dowry, corruption and that thing growing on Jairam Ramesh’s head. I’m frequently overcome by Sunny Deol-levels of patriotism when I think about India’s historic achievements, such as that one time we wrote the Kama Sutra and conned white people into trying positions involving banyan trees.
I was reminded of our sexual history this week, after news reports revealed that the Union Health Ministry was now “sampling 1400 penises” in order to design smaller condoms for Indian men who, when it comes to middle-stump size, are known to be more Sachin, less Pollard, if you get my drift.
These small condoms are mostly targeted at guys who drive around in SUVs the size of Parliament, with Mika playing on full-blast. But when it comes to overcompensation, India’s never short (ha!) of contenders.
For example, there’s the eminent thinker and philosopher Pramod Muthalik, who’s all about ‘Riot, Kapdaa aur Makaan’. He shot to infamy after the Mangalore pub incident last year, following which women from across the country sent him pink chaddis that he wears only on special occasions.
Earlier this week, Muthalik unwittingly became the star of his own sex tape when he got screwed by a Tehelka reporter on camera. Of course, the good man maintains that he was framed, and that the fake camera footage was created by some guy called James Cameron.
Also, North India is pretty good at stamping its macho authority all over the place. This is a place designed to showcase acts of extreme masculinity, such as bench-pressing cattle or shooting your daughter for marrying the wrong guy. (When questioned about this, a khap leader shrugged and simply said, “A man’s gotra do what a man’s gotra do.”)
Don’t get me wrong – I think violence is a great concept, and that the world would be a happier place if I was allowed to shoot, say, customer care executives.
But – and call me a flowery hippie if you will – I think when khap leaders start demanding legal status for “traditions” that were born centuries ago, back when Simi Garewal was just a baby, it’s time we realise that they’re full of khap.
Now I don’t mean to deride tradition. In fact, traditions serve an important purpose in modern society, i.e. they help Ekta Kapoor mint money. But there are some traditions that are – how do I say this nicely – downright stupid.
Such traditions often work under the assumption that women have the IQ of cabbage. That’s because the people who came up with wonderful ideas – like women shouldn’t work, drink, talk to men or step out of the house on dates that are prime numbers, unless of course they have their periods, in which case they should jump into a fire – were all men.
Had these men put their egos aside and allowed women to be involved in the decison-making process, things might have been different today. (On the flip-side, Shoe-Shopping may have emerged as a major world religion.)
So if you, dear reader, are up for it, I’d like to start a petition against stupidity in this country. Heck, if you pay me enough, I’ll even throw in a riot or two.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 16th May, 2010)