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To our politicians

I have a question to ask our politicians: don’t you have better things to do than work yourselves into a froth about cheer girls, asks Karan Thapar.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2008 15:24 IST

I have a question to ask our politicians: don’t you have better things to do than work yourselves into a froth about cheer girls? After all, you’re not 18 year olds measuring your lives with coffee spoons — and if you don’t know what that means ask TS Eliot! You’re adults. More importantly, you’ve been chosen to run this country. I would have thought inflation, farmers’ suicides, urban crime, the BRT crisis in Delhi, the vanishing nuclear deal and the shifting political equations in Nepal — to name just a handful of the pressing problems India faces — would have kept you fully preoccupied. But I’m wrong. You’ve found time for the silliest of causes, something no one else had noticed till you chanced upon it and forced it on the nation. If this was satire, I’d say well done! Alas, this is reality.

And what is it about cheer girls that has you so excited? Unfortunately, it’s a mixture of prejudice, ignorance and balderdash. Some of you say they’re vulgar. Perhaps, but does it occur to you that, like beauty, vulgarity lies in the eyes of the beholder? Many of us find your taste, behaviour and style vulgar but we put up with it. Is it too much to expect the same of you? That apart, do you know what vulgar means? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as something that is patronised or practiced by ordinary common people. Did you mean to be elitist or have you picked the wrong adjective?

Your second justification for banning cheer girls is they’re un-Indian. Well, in a very literal sense, you’re right. Until they were imported they were not known of by the vast majority of our countrymen. But that’s also true of cricket. (Incidentally, I hope you don’t think the game was handed down by the Vedas?) Yet the fact that cheer girls attract attention by baring their mid-riffs and dancing suggestively is something we’re very used to. Every woman in a sari has as much to show and reveal. Whilst Bharatnatyam and Odissi dancers — and let’s not even mention Khajuraho and Konark sculptures or some of our delightful miniatures and the Kama Sutra — are far more sensual.

Those of you who pretend to be moralists have claimed cheer girls are demeaning of women. But if you think about it you’ll realize how silly that statement is. To begin with, the cheer girls are women and they’re doing it willingly, even happily. Second, they’re proud of the figures they’re showing off. Third, the vast majority of the audience is enjoying their performance. This is not titillation. And though I don’t deny there’s a small perverted minority that’s deriving pornographic pleasure, are the rest of us to be treated like school children because of this half per cent? Even you wouldn’t say yes!

The most pertinent criticism is that cheer girls distract from the cricket. I have to admit there’s probably some truth in that. Except what it overlooks is that’s precisely why they’re there. T20 is not a Test match, not even a one day game. To be successful, a T20 tournament requires all the extras it can acquire. So, if you’re a purist it’s not the cheer girls you should object to, but the game itself. Don’t expect the sobriety of Lord’s when you’re watching the thwack and shove of Yusuf Pathan and Brendon McCullum. Unless, of course, you’re a hypocrite.

Actually, I’m afraid that’s what it is: hypocrisy. Bollywood indulges in crude and lascivious behaviour but you rarely, if ever, threaten to rip out those scenes. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, you court Bollywood stars and your ultimate goal is to get your kids to join them. Yet if the rest of us have a bit of innocent fun your moral hackles rise and you start cracking the whip.

Well, it’s time you got off our backs. At last there’s something on television the country seems to like and you have no right to ruin it. I suggest you grab a beer and enjoy the girls yourselves!