Coming down heavily on the Centre’s decision to drop two selected films from its annual fest, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said it was a classic example of government operating as a nanny state. Participating in a debate titled ‘We are Living in Nanny State’ at a literature festival in Mumbai on Thursday, Tharoor said, “Censorship is another example, where you saw very recently in this week’s news, withdrawal of two films in the International Film Festival of India by the government, not by the jury.”
Last week, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry dropped Marathi feature Nude and Malayalam film S Durga from the Indian panorama section of IFFI. This development came after the panorama jury had already selected these two films for the competition at the festival, which begins on November 20.
Slamming the government for the rise in censorship over the last few years, Tharoor also brought up the Udta Punjab controversy that played out last year when the then Pahlaj Nihalani-led censor board demanded 72 cuts in the film, based on the much-reported drug problem in Punjab.
“You have a censor board, which demands 72 cuts in ‘Udta Punjab’, an Amartya Sen documentary where censor insists the word Hindu and cows should be cut out. If this isn’t a nanny state then what is?” Tharoor asked.
The Congress leader also attacked the government for failing to decriminalise homosexuality and Uttar Pradesh government’s anti-Romeo squad, which intends to “protect the honour of women,” but has come to be known more for moral policing than providing safety to women.
“You also have the homophobic laws in our books. Before the heterosexuals get too complacent, we have got Yogi Adityanath’s (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister) anti-Romeo squads in UP. So this state believes, like nannies, they know what’s best for the country and what isn’t. Nannies may be good at baby sitting, but in this analogy, we the people are the baby and the government is sitting on us.”
Tharoor said that the government’s job is to take decisions that are within the parameters of public policy, but it has no business in the bedrooms of its citizens. “The principle to my mind is that the governments job is in public policy, in creation and administration of public goods, in defending our borders, making infrastructure… Those things are alright. But getting into the kitchen, into the bedroom, into people’s personal life, it’s not the business of the state. We must stand up against it whoever is in the government,” he said.