Achhe Din Roundup: The Week that Was
ICF begins a series of selected “blessings” in times of Achhe Din. A monthly list would be too long, and a daily list too depressing, so here is a weekly update.
1. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting denied three documentaries permission to be screened at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala. The films are on Rohith Vemula, unrest in Kashmir, and protests in JNU.
2. In Pratapgarh, Rajasthan, activist Zaffar Hussein was beaten to death by civic officials because he objected to their taking photographs of women defecating in the open. Apparently such photography is the naming-and-shaming strategy of the government’s Swachh Bharat scheme. The irony is that according to the villagers, Zaffar often petitioned the municipal councillor to release money for the construction of toilets.
3. Veteran activist Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan, known for his work on the Right to Information (RTI), was sentenced, along with four other activists, to imprisonment for a nineteen-year-old case on the retrieval of information from a sarpanch. The sentence has been suspended pending an appeal by the activists.
4. UP Chief Minister Adityanath discovered that the Taj Mahal is not Indian.
5. The Kamasutra may or may not be Indian; figurines sold in Khajuraho may be replicas of what is in the temple. But the Bajrang Sena wants it all banned because they are not part of “our culture”. Remembering perhaps that the temples are not exactly prudish about the human body or sex, the president of the Sena’s Khajuraho unit, Jyoti Agarwal, said, “Whatever has been depicted can’t be allowed to happen here now.”
6. In Goa, Sadhvi Saraswati of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti described her India: “People who eat beef must be publicly hanged… We need Hindu rashtra… Hindus should carry arms…” Time to go to Pakistan?
7. The film Phullu, about menstruation and sanitary napkins, was given an “A” certificate, and Censor Chief Pahlaj Nihalani declared that menstruation is adult. In fact, Nihalani was hesitant to use such an adult word. He called the blood-that-must-not be-named “that time of the month” or simply “that”: “…in our society, we still do not talk about ‘that time of the month’ with our daughters. Mothers keep their discomfort during ‘that’ time a secret from the family and a daughter, when going through ‘that time of the month’ is not allowed to go to school during those difficult 3-4 days.
Conclusion of the week: Films on real life, the right to information, functioning toilets, the Taj Mahal, the Kamasutra, beef and menstruation are not Indian. Lynching and hanging are.
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