Indian hypocrisy over sex highlighted

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 March, 1996, 12:00am

THE spotlight has been focused on Indian hypocrisy about sex after a judge dismissed a petition seeking to ban a book on the grounds of permissiveness.

'Indians have a notoriously ambivalent attitude towards sex,' said Judge Jaspal Singh when rejecting the petition to ban The Men and Women in My Life by Indian journalist Khuswant Singh.

'On the one hand there is the cult of the Kama Sutra and erotic temple carvings, and on the other prudery, hypocrisy and lip service to the ideal of chastity,' he said, dismissing the suit filed by a female activist.

The activist claimed the biography perpetuated permissiveness, insulted the memory of dead women and its obscenity would corrupt readers.

Freedom of expression required breathing space, said the judge.

'Had the author not come out with the objected passages through his ironical and witty pen, no one would have got the chance to enter and inhabit the real world of these persons,' the judge said.

The judge could not have put it better.

The general Indian, indeed southern Asian, attitude to sex is hypocritical.

'Indians have sex on their minds, lust in their eyes and fear in their hearts,' said a sociologist.

Last year, for example, an advertisement showing two models posing nude outraged the Hindu fundamentalist Shiv Sena coalition Government in the western state of Mahrashtra.

The advertisement showed the entwined couple wearing nothing but a python and shoes. Shiv Sena had the models arrested under the Indecent Representation Act.

And while Bal Thackeray, Shiv Sena's head strives, half-heartedly, to morally re-arm Indian society, the rest of the country feasts on a diet of steamy Western soap operas, rock video programmes and soft-porn movies aired on private cable channels.

Ironically, Mr Thackeray does not object to highly suggestive films from Bollywood, India's film capital of Bombay, which are obscenely titillating.

The reasoning is that heaving bosoms, pelvic gyrations and highly suggestive, dances by scantily clad actresses are merely a spinoff from traditional Indian dance, and hence, perfectly acceptable.

Lasciviousness, after all is an accepted part of ancient Indian culture which gave the world the sexy Kama Sutra.