Pink slips

Muthalik gets some back from the girls

Published: February 12, 2009 12:47:08 am

Aself-appointed “consortium of pub-going loose and forward women” has decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by sending the Sri Rama Sene’s moral cop in chief,Pramod Muthalik,overflowing cartons of pink underwear. They also intend to mark the day with a “pub bharo” drive (any historic cross-echoes purely coincidental),and have organised on Facebook and various blogs. Over five thousand people are reported to have signed on,including garment manufacturers who promise industrial-size batches of the flimsy pink underthings. There’s also a “hug karo” plan in place as young people in Bangalore will offer free hugs in pointed counter to the Sri Rama Sene’s violence.

Some have pointed to a parallel to recent protest against the Burmese junta,“panties for peace”,which flooded Burmese embassies with this “culturally insulting gesture of protest.” Of course this “pink chaddhi” campaign is about turning the insult around and declaring women’s freedoms. It has caught on,with a tidal wave of responses,from around the world. But could dignifying Muthalik with such a flood of publicity be counter-productive,given that movements like the Sene thrive on the outrage of those they target?

As does Raj Thackeray and others before him,Muthalik and his men seize upon action that will propel them into the national spotlight. They are not damaged by

adverse publicity,they feed on it. Civil society is partly responsible for watching their repellent views in an infinite loop and paying them the compliment of rational opposition. Even free-spirited campaigns like this may only inflate their despicable actions,actions which should be dealt with by a hardnosed law and order machine.

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