Monday, March 21, 2011

Guardians of Culture

Are we old enough to decide what’s good or bad for ourselves? Or do we still need others to tell us ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’? Or is it, that, we’ll always remain mamma’s boys and papa’s little princesses; no matter how old we grow or even if we have kids of our own?
Be it the kind of movies boys prefer to watch or the 7 pm deadlines for girls (10 pm for the liberal households), there will always be set of rules to ‘regulate’ or rein the adolescent genes, the hormonal changes, et al. The ever-worried parents do need such ground-rules to ensure that their young boys and girls grow into mature and responsible citizens of tomorrow. There’s no denying this fact of life (mind you, it’s necessary in many cases) and no harm in dealing with your children’s future with caution and prudence.
Most of the parents do realize when the time arrives. The time when all their parenting efforts are put to test by means of freedom acquired eventually by the youthfulness. And now it’s this upbringing that decides the course of actions an individual takes. There would be times when people turn to elders for guidance, counsel and support. And elders in turn show confidence in the judgments and decisions of the younger generation.
That’s how generations evolve and human race progresses. That’s Mother Nature’s way. Sparrow teaching its young ones to fly and then one fine day little ones fly off to newer heights to make them proud.
But there are some who just can’t let go off their young ones. And they even recommend others to do the same, fearing the worst.
We have been witnessing events/incidents in recent past that exemplify such scared souls. Only difference is that the scales of restrictions are magnified and the boundaries of such action are no longer within family. They have outgrown to the levels of groups, sects, strata of society.
These few people are willing to go to extremes of even imposing their will and take up the so-called roles of being guardians of culture and traditions. Restricting things that they believe are alien. Things that they think would be bad influence to our own culture. 
We most certainly aren’t here to promote the ‘mall culture’ or ‘pub culture’ or the culture where people celebrate love and affection on certain days. We don’t intend to support or defend them.
But, we do swear by the culture of freedom. And if need be, we’ll nurture it by our blood and lives. That’s because the very essence of human life and existence is dependent on freedom, the freedom to make choices according to one’s wishes, preferences, likings, ideas, ideologies, faiths, beliefs, alliances, etc.
Of what use are culture and traditions, if they don’t foster dignity and self-respect? If women are beaten up by mobs of men, if young couples are arrested by custodians of law, if tourists are looted and assaulted, if our little one’s are seen as means of fulfilling shameless desires, if poor are deprived of their livelihood just because they hail from certain regions, if intellects and artisans are targeted and vandalized because of their ideas and art. Is this really our culture, our tradition? Is intolerance and tyranny a part of our ethos?
Thrown off a train for refusing to move from the first class to a third class coach while holding a valid first class ticket, a young man took to heart the injustice done to him. Realizing that this was not one-off incident but a norm, he decided to fight back and the rest is history, as they rightly say.
Time has come for us to stand up for the values we treasure. Fight intolerance. Promote freedom and justice. And demonstrate to the ‘guardians’ of culture what our traditions really are, and teach them lessons of love, brotherhood and justice. Let them understand, they can kill men, but they can’t kill ideas.
The values we treasure and ideals of our traditions are being taken over by the whims and egos of few. Isn’t it high time for us to set in action, to preach, practice the principles of universal love and brotherhood, to guard dignity, respect and morals? For men are mortal, but ideas and values are immortal.

This editorial was written (February 10, 2009) for an internal newsletter following Mangalore Pub Attacks... The strike-outs are the edits which were made in the published versions


  1. Damn right!

    A man was also thrown out of a train when he came to the rescue of some girl being harassed by some goondas. The guy was the son of a little known local politician. He was killed instantly.

    Anyway, his father being a politician had no effect on keeping the media interested nor getting the young man his justice.


    Good post though.