Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Appearing “Correct”

Last Sunday , The Times of India carried a hilarious article on Political correctness in Britain. It was a picture of a Britain in crisis, a Britain that has become hilariously ridiculous in the name of fairness, equality and general safety standards. So much so that they even have a movement called the Campaign Against Political Correctness…and what else one can expect if even the nursery rhymes are being modified to suit the modern notions of political correctness. I learnt from the article that in England these days, Three Wise Men become Three Wise Women, and on occasion, Baby Jesus in the manger is a girl. Gingerbread Man is now Gingerbread Person. The words 'manpower' and 'mankind' are not used anymore in some organizations. And, in the face of increasing gay rights, when a councilor joked that Noah could not have taken only animals of the opposite sex into his ark, angry members of the council demanded that he be sent to "compulsory equality training''. Burger King changed the swirls on its ice cream lids after one man complained that the swirls resembled Allah in the Arabic script. Last year, the Greater Manchester Police advised its officers not to arrest Muslims at prayer times during Ramzan. A hospital bans cooing at newborns because it violates the human rights of infants. Some newspapers spell black with a capital 'B' and white with 'w' in lower case. The Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council banished from its offices the image of Piglet from Winnie The Pooh so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities.
I wonder if in India we are also following suit our former colonial masters in making a joke of our public behavior. I am not a Madhuri Dixit fan…in fact I did not even bother to watch most of her blockbuster movies. But no one in his/her senses can justify the anger some of our veteran politician showed on one of the songs of her comeback movie. The message is that we will have to revise our sayings, our jokes and our songs also to ensure they do not mention caste . It seems Sudanese are not the only people angered by a teacher's innocent act of naming a teddy bear Mohammed …we ,in India, are just few steps behind. Today morning I read in the newspaper that a Sikh gentleman in Lucknow took offence of a sardarji SMS joke and filed a FIR against Mukesh Ambani , the owner of Reliance communications.The newspaper on this issue comments that jokes targeting communities should stop..after all we are a multiethnic community .Very soon it will be politically incorrect to laugh at a Sardarji joke or a mallu or a Gujju joke .As it is our media works with unwritten rule of not naming Muslim community in case of riots. it is usually a clash between two 'different' communities or a procession of “ minority community” which leads to curfew . Naming these communities may intensify the situation. And media is not the only ones going paranoid. Schools too are joining the brigade. Punishing students is a complete no-no. Even announcing merit list may give inferiority complex to some kids so its just grading of A,B,C in our modern day school boards. Children are not to be admonished for their mistakes and wrongdoings for all you know this may violate the child’s right to express himself. In government offices also we follow a similar correctness of behavior. In fact that is why I chose the name of my other blog “Being Officially Incorrect”. Sadly nobody is bothered how this official correctness is making our system inefficient and ineffective. Male superiors have to be doubly sure to reprimand inefficient female subordinates in office …as a sexual harassment complaint comes very handy in such cases . Even while holding disciplinary proceedings against a person belonging to “underprivileged” class one has to ensure that the inquiry officer is also of the same class. Any decision related to Muslims has to be taken taking care of their religious status …even when it is about a completely non-religious issue. And all these unwritten rules have authority of experience. There have been court cases and political campaigns on these issues and in the name of appearing correct our system has often ignored the apparent, the obvious and the known. Even in our movies dialogues and characters must follow these rules or else we have outfits in all communities to ensure protest and violence on the streets. This ridiculous political correctness has no end and moreover serves no real purpose.
Discrimination against disabled does not change anyways in its gravity by calling them “differently abled persons”. But then who cares ? The funny part is that all these right activists and moral police authorities go in such funny details that they miss the main point of their protest itself. Often the protests lead to a greater curiosity and hence free publicity to the so called violation. A fine example is protest on Deepa Mehta’s Fire. It was by all measures a very ordinary and let me say- boring movie. It would not have earned one tenth of its revenue had not Shivsena protested against it and thereby making it an issue for feminists and right-activists .I still remember how vehemently Madhu Kishwar was opposed when she said that Fire is a very ordinary and boring movie . Same is true about Taslima Nasreen’s books. She is a very ordinary writer and all her controversial books are a written with an aim to create controversy ….but thanks to Muslim organizations she is a known name in literary circles , her books made good profit and she is seen a victim of Islamic Fundamentalism for the cause of freedom of speech .

In America these days, it is a discrimination of the other extreme. After 9/11 in that country it is politically incorrect to trust Muslims. No American Authority can afford to be reasonable when Muslims are concerned. So anyone with a Muslim name is unwelcome. One of my friends from Bahrain wanted to appear for CIA exam for which the centre was in USA. He was denied visa thrice because he is 22 , male and Muslim . To make his crime worse his name is Mohammed ….a solid proof for the American agencies that he is linked to some or the other Terrorist outfit and thus a potential threat to the American People.
Help! What kind of prejudiced, artificial and lunatic world sans any sense of humour and ability to laugh at , we are heading for ? I too feel like joining the Campaign against Political Correctness and if that involves laughing at 'gender insensitive' jokes and using 'unparliamentary' language when one feels like then so be it.


Ashish said...

Very well-written post. Your posts are always thought provoking. Keep it up.

Sudipto Basu said...

Ha ha! Though in my honest opinion, the matter at hand deserves some serious thinking than a mighty good laugh. Why is it that so many of us 'educated' people take offence at mere jokes, which almost always are never intended to make fun of us? Dumbledore, perhaps the greatest character in lieterature, can unhesitatingly say to Dobby, "Call me a barmy old codger, if you wish!" So what do we ordinary mortals have complaints against? The person who takes himself/herself too seriously definitely exhibits an underlying sense of grave insecurity... The important person would be too engrossed in his thoughts to even care about political correctness!