14 May 2009

Political Theater In India

In India, as in the United States, most of Western Europe, and much of the Islamic world (Turkey, for example), one of the main political faultlines is between culturally conservative religiously oriented politic groupings on the right, and more secular and modern political groupings on the left.

A current flashpoint in India is in Bangalore, which has a thriving middle class Western oriented information technology economy juxtaposed with a more tradition and often impoverished traditional India economy full of culturally conservative, older and often less educated Hindus. The Hindu Nationalist Bharatiua Janta Party (BJP) represents conservative Hindus in electoral politics. But, Bangalore also has a group called Sri Ram Sene, which has pressured for local restrictions on discos, conducted demonstrations against bars, Valentine's Day and Christian churches, and at times engaged in mildly violent attacks (mostly causing property damage and minor bodily injury and embarrassment, rather than serious bodily injury) targeted at women whom they feel dress immodestly and go out drinking. Some describe this new wave of violent conservative political action as the Talibanization of India (marginally more apropos than the German brownshirt analogy that also easily comes to mind) and Bangalore has earned the new nickname in the press of "Bans-Galore."

The secular left, led by Nisha Susan, 29, responded by forming an activist group called the Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women (they have a blog), which is comprised of modern minded young artists and writers. Their latest event mailed hundreds of pink panties to Sri Ram Sene on Valentine's Day. Whatever faults India may have, it certainly does not want for audacity and political theater.

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