Concepts of morality

The Supreme Court has struck down a thirteen year old ban on bar dancing which was stopped by the Maharashtra Government. It has set certain conditions regarding the period during which bar dancing can be held. The Maharashtra Government is trying to nullify the apex court order by issuing an ordinance to ban bar dancing again, on the plea of enforcing social morality. It is a part of the moral policing being done by the BJP-ruled States in many spheres of public life – from what a citizen should eat and wear to what he should see and read. All these questions of morality are being raised at a time when the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexuality, recognized the right to “living together” of a man or woman who are not married. There is a movement for recognizing “same sex: marriage’ also. In such an era when all the old values are being discard – for good or for evil – insistence on banning a particular form of dancing on the question of public morality is frivolous.
There is another aspect of the ban also. As several social workers have pointed out in TV panel discussions, throwing the girls who were earning their living by dancing out of job, means forcing them to take up prostitution, which is far worse and more damning for a woman than dancing. A political party may have its own views on morality. It has the right to propagate its views freely. But in a democratic country it cannot enforce its views on society just because it happens to the party in power. The proper thing to do is to popularize its ideas and ideals and build public opinion behind them so as to put an end to such practices. On the plea of morality, drinking has been enforced in several States which has led only to liquor being sold secretly at higher prices and people of low income group being forced to take spurious drinks and dying by the dozens or scores.
A government which cannot abolish poverty and prevent people from committing suicide due to indebtedness, a government which cannot provide jobs to the tens of thousands who are entering the labour market every year, which cannot protect innocent citizens from being victims of communal hatred should re-think its priorities. Moral policing is a concept which is anathema to democracy. Let the government re-draw its priorities from the citizens’ point of view rather than prohibit dancing.

Friday, 18 January, 2019