Feb. 6, 2000

Child Marriage, Satee, Widow Remarriage, and all that -
and now the 'Culture Of Varanasi'

What has been happening to the shooting of the film 'Water' in Varanasi puts the clock back by one hundred years or so. Right when the world has stepped into the 21st century, we are taking our country backwards in the name of "jandbhawana", "lokamat, and what not. The vocabulary has changed, the threats have not.

Those in power have totally disregarded the undergraduate level teaching, a quality that a leader should have the followers, not according to their backward looking ideas, but according to new ideas and freedoms. If this were not so, the world would be standing still. In fact India did for centuries.

All the social progress that we have made -- our efforts to eradicate evils like child marriage, prohibition of widow remarriage, the practice of Satee, bar on the temple entry by untouchables, practice of untouchability itself, etc., and our efforts to eradicate caste prejudices, efforts to practice gender equality, etc., would become a 'law and order problem'.

Further, the Constitution (one hopes the sections relevant here are not planned to be revised), the freedoms and liberties granted in it - which are all new to our 'culture' and 'tradition' - would and had bee, law and order problems. But, these were tackled.

The PUCL condemns the efforts of a few people to impose extra-constitutional censorship in the country. The people of India have faith in their Constitution, they value the freedoms guaranteed under it, and they respect democracy. The Constitution of India is an instrument of protection of Democracy. The PUCL further calls upon the leaders of political parties, those in power and those in the opposition, to see that the Constitutional rights of the people are not allowed to be held to ransom."

-- Y.P. Chhibbar, Ph.D., General Secretary

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