There seems to be a new trend in advertising. In the past few days, I saw a lot of advertisements which try to show a changed Indian social fabric.Things like celebrating the second marriage of a woman with a child, a dutiful wife who is also her husband’s boss and gives him overtime duty, a mother in law calling her daughter in law “hot!” when the husband is cringing at her choice of clothes and so on….
These sort of ads would not probably have seen the light of the day say, a few years ago. But, are they actually suggesting change and acceptability or are they just a part of the parallel realities that exist in India ?
I came upon this term in a lecture that I had heard a few days ago, which explained the concept. It seems that whenever we Indians learn of a new concept, a new change or there has been a debunking of some myth or superstition, Indians seem to be the first to actually read, see, hear or accept the fact. But on one condition– we feel that it is something that others have to follow and accept, and we can choose to ignore.
Not convinced? I can give you a few examples…
Lets start with something simple.
From the time Bollywood has come into existence, we have seen that the eternal concept of every film (“with a difference”) is boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love, girl’s father almost always turns villian, then everything goes right and in the end,we have a big fat Indian wedding. We throng theaters to watch this fare every friday… kids, parents, grandparents, uncles , aunts, etc. etc…..in the name of family entertainment! Cut to real life, we have seen a horrific number of honor killings in the past few years for the same cause. Love marriages are still big time taboo subjects. Parents as well as the couple are embarrassed while accepting that theirs was a ‘love’ match (what we read in chicklit about marriages in metros being mostly based on love do not hold true in semi urban India).
The Saas bahu story. This probably works the other way round! Though we know and see around us that there are a lot many saas bahus living in harmony and peace, we still choose to propagate the idea that the two cannot gel at all. Probably Ekta Kapoor takes credit for feeding us the concept in the past decade. Every working woman probably knows the importance of having a supportive mother in law at home. Yes, there are a few hitches and small tiffs, but which close relationship would not have them??? Have we never had abominable fights with our parents, friends or spouses?? So what’s special about this relationship that it should make serial themes ???Why not “Kyunki papa bhi kabhi bete the”??.
The death of Narendra Dhabolkar. He was a doctor, social worker and activist rooting for the enactment of anti superstition law. He was shot dead because the act that he was supporting was apparently anti hindu– whatever that means! On the one hand, we are praising the fact that India is a scientific super power which can produce nuclear bombs, and on the other, shooting down people who are actually making the masses move towards that goal.
I have seen people who speak about gender equality making their daughters sit outside their houses during menstruation (this is a custom by the way.. where the girl is considered impure due to menstruation and hence cannot touch anyone, lest they turn impure.. Then suddenly on day three of menstruation, just by the act of taking bath they become pure again!!). Stupid, but true!
We talk about the great Indian hospitality. In reality, we assault foreign tourists, charge starving, stranded piligrims in Uttrarkashi Rs. 500 for a pack of parle G biscuits, and restrict the same hospitality when the guest turns out to be someone from a lower caste
The list goes on and on.
So, it would seem to me that we are people who see, and realize the mistakes we make, but choose to rationalize and live with the faults.Like the proverbial ostrich which buries its head in the sand. That makes me sad.
Can we ever change??? Or will the few who actually do,be termed “rebels”?? Well, good Indians do not rebel- they obey and suffer in silence! Another parallel reality!