“Moral policing:” who polices whom?

A leader and his group booked for promoting enmity amongst various religious groups and causing injury to the honour of women boasts of setting up a moral policing cell in our modern, liberal, yet culturally and ethically sound state.
Goa, one would agree with me, scores more on a cross cultural, modern thought and liberalism scale when compared to Mangalore. The long Portuguese regime and the modern yet morally stable outlook of the people being the main reasons.
The leader of the Ram Sene, Pramod Muthalik, now cherishes a dream to open a state branch of his party in 10 states including Goa. It was amazing to know that he was thinking out his moral policing aims while cooling his heels in the Gulbarga prison. The news doesn’t end there. On March 16, the district administrator and deputy commissioner banned Muthalik from entering the Mangalore district for a whole year, courtesy, his outfit’s members attacking boys and girls in a pub in Mangalore in a bid to pursue their moral policing mission there. Well, you women hitters, have you ever heard of that Sanskrit saying: yatra naryesthu pujanthe ramnathe tatra devata (Where women are respected that is where god lies).
In whose wildest dreams do you think Muthalik that a sensible resident of Goa will allow you to start an office in the state, especially after that aforementioned excellent biodata which would compete only with that of hypocrite Hitler? How can a man who boasts of a fountain of morals in his backyard ever think of hitting and causing injury to the honour of women? If not for you, it is for us in Goa to think and take the requisite step.
Morality may be synonymous with ethics or a code of conduct, the word by itself tracing its origin to the Latin term moralitas, meaning manner or proper behaviour. It would be absolutely bizarre for the Ram Sene to think that our own government cannot take care of the state and the needs and conduct of its citizens leave alone moral policing. But the moot question is, in a society like ours, do we need moral policing at all, and if yes, by whom?
What would you morally police? Pub culture, western dressing, women drinking, smoking, or would u police lovers who express themselves. The basis on which the whole ideology of the outfit’s moral policing is portrayed is absolutely senseless. Why would I as an individual, irrespective of my sex, want to be policed by a divide-creating element for the places I visit, socialize at or the drinks I consume, or for the love I express, as long as it is not against the law of the land? And if I act in a manner that is allegedly antagonistic to the norms of the law so created, it would be the requisite of authorities to take action against me and not that of a group of influenced minds attacking me at a leader’s sign.
Progressing towards the Goan scene, pub culture and cross cultural clothing have been a part of the society for ages, the then crude form of pubs being the tavern or small restaurant/drinking place, and the modern outlook of the society being implied on account of the Portuguese regime of 450 years.
In fact, on a general note & somarasa, madira have been part of the Indian cultural heritage for thousands of years finding mention in ancient scriptures. That women did not consume alcohol in ancient times has no staunch proof on record. On a contemporary note, in Goa, all these form part of the gross-earner tourism industry, with the trends being imbibed in historical paradigms.
If this code of conduct is well espoused by rational people in preference to any other options available, then a question of disobeying morals does not arise at all. In such a situation, why would I want a Ram Sene or any such outfit to be a part and parcel of Goa and create havoc out of peace and tranquillity over issues that are nonexistent? Our government does take action on issues that affect or hurt the morals of the state’s citizens, and we’ll account for it.
Conceptions of morals and morality have and should change significantly over time. What may seem modern and futuristic today may be very much an essential ingredient of society tomorrow. Before I hit a woman who drinks in harmony or harass a couple only because they express their love on Valentine’s Day, I should ask my self whether I would stop drinking or would I stop expressing love, in whatever way. One might ask why? The answer lies in the fact that we are a democratic country with the right to equality and the right to life forming an essential part of the Constitution. No one, including you Muthalik, has the right to deny a woman her right to drink, or me the right to express my emotions to another, which form an ingredient of the essence of human life, so long as it is not barred by the government of my country.
I believe that I have made my locus clear here. Goa, the state that is, does not need you or your elements to inspect us. We are ethically, morally, religiously, philosophically and to get in depth & meta-ethically sound and stable. The state’s machinery is competent enough to deal with any moral issue should one arise. With Goa’s leaders blowing the horn against Muthalik’s “dream moral police gang and their shop” the protest has already begun. It’s high time we take a step forward.
It is not that we in Goa do not believe in god or religion, it is just that we believe in humanity and sensible equality all the more.
The writer is a final year student at the V M Salgaocar College of Law, Miramar. The views expressed are those of the writer. Write in to toi.goa@timesgroup.com Tushar Naik, H.No 115, Ranghavi Estates, Alto Dabolim, Airport Rd. Goa, 403-801 Ph: 09011938860, 08322538332


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