Once upon a time,in the not too distant past,Mumbai,that vibrant,teeming metropolis was not just the economic capital of India but also its party capital. Mumbais nightlife was legendary and locals and visitors were assured a heady time in urbs prima in Indus where they could let their hair down and boogey into the wee hours. Somewhere along the line,the moral police began to play spoilsport and forced the local constabulary to down shutters early on pubs,bars and nightclubs. The city that once pulsated to the rhythm of the night suddenly found a pall of gloom descended upon it. Zealous ministers and crusading cops swore to uphold the values and principles they held dear and safeguard the culture of this great megapolis by clamping down on its nightlife. Raids were conducted with regularity and hockey sticks wielded with impunity. Not just the right-wingers,even ostensibly liberal state governments ensured that dance bars were permanently closed to protect the moral fabric of society. The fact that hundreds of bar dancers were forced to turn to prostitution in order to fend for themselves was mere collateral damage in this purge for the greater good. Mumbai was now deemed safe for our daughters and wives. Except,as we have seen,crimes against women havent really declined. Depraved criminals perpetrate the worst atrocities on females of every age and despite harsh judicial penalties,their crimes continue unabated. It is not my intention to make naïve remarks about this malaise but I do believe that by curtailing the vibrant nightlife of a city you do it a disservice. The denizens of a metropolis require healthy catharsis and an opportunity to destress after the rigours of a hard days work. By socialising and partying with peers one doesnt become a pervert or a godless heathen. Those that seek to lock up their daughters in order to protect them from predators often end up stifling them. Instead of balanced individuals these teenagers grow up resenting their parents and the rebellion can often be extreme. As with everything else in life,moderation is key. In todays world you cannot threaten to set your own daughter on fire if she goes out with a young man,as the lawyer of Nirbhayas rapists recently declared he would do,attempting to cast sick aspersions on the poor victims character.
Whilst Mumbai reels under strictures against late night partying and tries to come to terms with the gang rape of a young journalist in daylight,it is interesting to note that the festivities continue unabated in Delhi. Next week,I am told,there is a glittering high fashion gala event,the launch of a designer store,and a restaurant opening-all this on a Tuesday evening. Move over Mumbai. Delhi has just wrested the mantle of the party capital of India.