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Mumbai is no longer bindaas

Mumbai has always been seen as India?s most trendy city whose spirit is exemplified by one word: ?bindaas.? Now, that free spirit seems to be under threat.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2006 04:22 IST

Mumbai has always been seen as India’s most trendy city whose spirit is exemplified by one word: ‘bindaas.’ Now, that free spirit seems to be under threat.

According to findings of a CNN-IBN Hindustan Times poll done by IMRB, nine out of ten Mumbaikars don’t mind moral policing and as many as seven out of ten have supported the ban on dance bars. For a city that prides itself on its modernity and openness, these findings are shocking.

The survey had 1,023 respondents in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai cutting across income groups. It has tried to examine various aspects of Mumbai and get the view of Mumbaikars on these contemporary issues.

For the last few months, Mumbai, a city that never sleeps, has been forced by authorities to go to bed early. First came the crackdown on over a thousand dance bars last August. In the last three weeks, there’s been a clampdown on dozens of pubs, bars and nightclubs across the city. The Maharashtra government tells us that this is being done in the interest of upholding moral standards. And if the results of the survey are anything to go by, the authorities have taught morality lessons to Mumbaikars rather well.

On being asked if the government was correct in shutting down dance bars, a huge 69 per cent respondents gave a thumbs up. While 38 per cent bought the government's argument that it was done to prevent activities like prostitution, 40 per cent said it was done keeping in mind political interests. Thirteen per cent are of the opinion that the ban on dance bars was brought about to enforce morality. The support for the closure of dance bars was even higher in Thane and Navi Mumbai, suggesting that as Mumbai expands into the suburbs, its mindset is getting narrower.

On the entire issue of moral policing, a whopping 92 per cent believe it is justified. More women (94%) than men (90%) are in favour of it, suggesting the attempt by the government to impose a moral code on its citizens has widespread support.

That’s not all. Mumbai has traditionally been considered one of the safest cities for women in India. But in recent months this image has taken a beating, with a rise in crimes against women. In what may be a worrying trend, the survey reveals that a majority of Mumbai's women (64%) no longer feel as safe as they once did. In fact, 3 out of every 5 women polled said they would not want to take a cab alone after midnight. Interestingly, women in Thane/Vashi (72%) feel safer travelling at that time compared to their counterparts in Navi Mumbai (33%) and Mumbai (36%).

Perhaps, the spate of recent high-profile incidents have left their mark on the pysche of Mumbai women. Whichever way you look at it these are findings that will give sleepless nights to many a Mumbaikar.

The author is Editor-in-chief, CNN-IBN

First Published: Feb 21, 2006 04:22 IST