India loves banning stuff and here’s a non-comprehensive list of stuff that’s banned in all of India or in certain parts.
(We changed our featured image because we were deemed unpatriotic by numerous flag nazis and national heritage and respect aficionados, trust us we are so patriotic- we wear khadi boxers!)
We are probably the only nation in the world, where a court took a ballsy decision and then a higher court pulled it out in a retrograde move and left it to the legislature to decide. It is the same legislature that can’t decide on something as simple as the Women’s Reservation Bill. The law dates back to 1899 and last we checked, it’s been a while since that century. The only person who remembers anything from that time is L.K. Advani. We borrowed this law (like many of our laws) from the U.K. and even those guys have legalised gay marriage. Also, are you arresting a man for having consensual homosexual intercourse just so that he is subjected to non-consensual homosexual intercourse behind bars?
There was a time when smoking pot was legal in India – it is still quasi-legal: bhaang in drinks and fried foodstuff is still very legal – and we don’t know of many holy men going behind bars because they smoke pot. However legally, consumption and possession of marijuana is still pretty illegal. Like most laws, it is used to target individuals who are mostly harmless to society. And the reason it was made illegal under the NDPS Act was because of pressure from a certain country named The United States of America – the very same country where in many states it is completely legal to smoke pot. Oh did we tell you that NDPS puts pot in the same league as crack and smack? God knows what our law makers are smoking/doing, it sure is potent.
The world’s oldest profession remains sketchily legal in India depending on who you are asking. Soliciting sex is an offence though practising it ‘in private’ isn’t. And more often than not clients are criminalised and prosecuted. Organised prostitution isn’t allowed either. Also, Indian law doesn’t recognise male prostitution. Most importantly sex workers aren’t protected by labour laws. Thus, making it uncontrolled, unregulated and very unsafe… And this is not counting the huge amounts of human rights violations and human trafficking that is a part of this illegal state of happenings. We know that real men don’t pay for sex but some men(and women?) don’t mind paying for a good time. Legalising prostitution will regulate the trade and help in curbing down the way HIV spreads in our country. Oh, and it will officially recognise those practising it and entail them to things like…you know… human rights.
Smoking anything on screen
This genius mind of a certain Health Minister figured that smoking on screen causes cancer and it is injurious to health. And with another stroke of genius it was decided that this needs to be drilled into the minds of anyone watching a movie or TV show. So now you have disclaimers, overlays and horrendously produced AVs that tell you smoking is bad for health. Everyone, from Anurag Kashyap to Woody Allen, is pissed off with the rule but most producers do go ahead and put in these disclaimers. What’s funny is that smoking scenes are supposed to induce smoking habits in the audience but rape, murder and Uday Chopra have no effect on the audience. At least that’s what the government wants to believe.
I don’t like people…the rest of you are ok
— Uday Chopra (@udaychopra) December 11, 2013
What is considered porn is very difficult to understand in the Indian context. While Sunny Leone, Poonam Pandey and Sherlyn Chopra have continued to pleasure us through their videos and images on twitter, the government actually considers all of that illegal and we aren’t kidding here. You can actually be jailed for distributing and making porn. Though the law is sketchy on accessing and possessing it. We live in an age when the porn industry is considered very legitimate in most parts of the developed world. (Except the fact that small-breasted porn is banned in Australia or that private parts need to be blurred in Japan – tentacles are fine) And as it has been proved many a times earlier, everyone watches porn (stop being a prude?) and some of them even do it while they are in a legislative meetings. And to everyone who says that porn is the cause for sexual violence – you are, in a way, saying that water is the reason for floods.
Public Display of Affection
In a country with the world’s second largest population in the world, it is kinda not legal to show your love in public (though the same prejudice doesn’t exist about rapes). And people have been beaten up and married when they were found to celebrate love or you know…hold hands in public. However, urinating in public is completely acceptable and even promoted (good for the soil maybe). The purveyors of ‘Indian’ culture will want us to believe that kissing is indecent and that it is a western concept, they really need to Google the phrase Kama Sutra.
Women in Pubs
We don’t know how much of this law is true (like most laws in India) but there are reports that Women aren’t allowed in places that sell liquor post 10pm in Andhra Pradesh. We also read a couple of articles that said this law hasn’t been enforced yet. What’s funny is probably the fact that this was the Governments way of dealing with that certain incident involving a few Nalsar students. Instead of making stronger media laws, you ban women from bars. Sometimes logic is left far behind in our country – that also explains why our ‘hit’ movies are so brilliant – logic can fuck itself and die.
Cycling in Kolkata
While most cities around the world are promoting bicycles (some even enforce their use very strictly), evergreen hipster amongst cities, Kolkata has gone on to ban cycling. Kolkata, first prohibited cycles on about 36 streets in 2008. Then they went Godzilla and barred bicycles from 174 roads. The idea behind it was to ease traffic flow. And maybe they just wanted more smoke in the air. Who does this affect the most? No, it doesn’t affect cycle riding Eco Warriors as much as it affects people who can’t afford anything else. Way to go guys! That guy riding the cycle is not going to be poor anymore…
Books, movies, cartoons and paintings have been banned from the time they were first created. (Check out our article on Banned books). But with all of that freedom of speech mumbo jumbo we have in our constitution – we do have a lot of other mumbo jumbo that completely negates this freedom and opens the floor up to stupidity. Today it is nearly impossible to make any sort of social, cultural or political commentary in India – because your work will either be banned or you’ll be fired from your work or you’ll be exiled from the country (how Indian,na?) or you might even be killed. Movies have been banned because they are offensive to a certain section of the society. Books have been banned because they are offensive to certain religions and paintings have been banned because they show bharat mata in the wrong light, because we all know how bharat mata loves dressing in Satya Paul sarees.
The inherent problem with many of these bans lies with the fact that we adopted numerous Victorian laws, and we all know how prudish the Brits are – now imagine the same set of people making laws more than a hundred years back! What is sad is that even they have moved on and progressed while we bask in their archaic rules. We wonder how exactly did those sculptures in Khajurao manage to exist for so long, since what they depict is illegal in so many ways,right?
Some of these bans are just stupid, while some make you wonder why Salman Khan was so boring on Kofee with Karan and if he is really a virgin. But the truth will remain that we are kind of fucked up as a nation – like in this survey where the results are pretty shocking (click to enlarge):
But then again, what can we do about it? Write articles like this? Even this might get banned.