The adults of India will be looking up from their Gita or Koran or Guru Granth Sahib or Bible or whatever other wholesome literature they imbibe for after-dinner pleasure on April 1 and turn their gaze on the television screen. Fortunately for them, they will find nothing that is “against good taste and decency” or anything that “denigrates women and is likely to adversely affect public morality”. And for such immense thoughtfulness, they can all thank Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. The Government of India may shake its head with disbelief at the clampdown on television channels taking place next door in Pakistan, but as far as the bakwaas being aired on channels in this country goes, GoI wants everyone to know that they can be efficient plug-pullers too.
The government, affectionately known as mai-baap to all of us, knows that adults in India react violently when images of semi-nude or skimpily clad models are shown either sashaying down the ramp or lolling about a beach. And even if some Indian adults don’t break into a violent fit each time they accidentally are made to watch a TV programme such as the not-too-subtly named ‘Midnight Hot’, GoI is not taking any chances. Mr Dasmunsi and his boys with their toys have decided to slap a two-month ban on FTV, the channel that shows women who seem so remote from all our mothers and sisters, not to mention wives. This is not the first time that the Paris-based FTV has been warned for showing women of disreputable dress sense. And earlier this year, AXN, another channel, was banned for airing a programme, ‘Bikini Destination’ — the ban lifted only after the channel apologised and agreed to show content that grandparents could watch with their grandchildren.
The wonderful thing about the Indian State as well as its people is that both love a halo perched above their heads. The belief that watching skimpily clad ladies — to make matters infinitely worse, skimpily clad Western ladies — from one’s living room or bedroom becomes an act worse than participating in a late Roman bacchanalia stems from the fact that such programmes are available in the public domain of television. If these were, however, private peep shows — where no questions are asked and no answers are given and the government can showcase blissful ignorance — watching (or showing) women in various stages of undress would not have been such a culture-destroying, tradition-trampling affair. The point is when GoI wants to play mummy-papa with adult Indians who reportedly have brains of their own, it is an awesome thing to behold. Why, it can be a bit turning on too.