Today when the government of India has announced a framework, however non-interfering to creativity it may claim it to be, I only get one message – it is that the government will no longer tolerate content on streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+Hotstar etc., that challenges its ideology or for that matter questions the Hindutva beliefs. I trust that I am right in thinking this way because what is offensive is very difficult to define in India. Thus, what offends the mighty state will be the final interpretation of these orders. Again this time, like was done when passing the farm laws, without due process and enough discussion with all the stakeholders who will be impacted.
For two decades now, my heart has skipped a beat each time that I saw women push a vessel of rice with their feet when performing grihapravesh – it is still shown in episode after episode of soap operas that have met this government’s approval. So much so that one of the ministers in the present cabinet was once the lead actor of a popular television serial that also met the approval of our present powerful – a series in which many rituals performed on a daily basis were regressive, divisive and anti-poor. Forget the fact that diversity was ignored as if it didn’t exist in India, it set aspirations for the most excluded, especially women who otherwise have no choice but to be the working companions of their counterparts, to dream of becoming rich and bejeweled, to engage in the kitchen politics of a joint family and to fall at the feet of men; and it glorified the suffering woman to such an extent that a whole generation of girls grew up romanticizing sacrificing behaviors and acceptance of their predicament of being responsible for keeping the family together despite the violations of their abusive husbands, as good karma.
Also forget the fact that hundreds of kilograms of rice were kicked on the sets of television serials, which were forced to have such scenes canned every week, and imagine how many thousands of kilograms of critical food in the poorest of Indian households are thrown away every year during the performance of this ritual of a Hindu bride entering her marital home for the first time. I’m not even touching upon the gallons of pure ghee and huge amounts of fruit that goes to garbage cans after prayer services and spectacular events in which millions of diyas are light to impress the world with our culture. We are a country of a billion and a half people and eighty percent of us are Hindus – millions still go to sleep hungry every night.