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Politics as unusual

Raajneeti bites the BJP now,as it is accused of abetting movie piracy...

Written by The Indian Express |
June 18, 2010 3:27:15 am

You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a mobile phone. You wouldn’t steal a DVD. Downloading pirated films is stealing. Stealing is against the law. Piracy: it’s a crime.” So went the step-by-step logic of the Motion Pictures Association of America,as it tried to staunch the free flow of bootlegged copies. And now,the BJP might have to walk the plank for its act of criminality. The party,which had practically abducted and holed up its Rajasthan MLAs in a resort near Jaipur to prevent last-minute temptation before the Rajya Sabha vote,found itself foiled by a different kind of Raajneeti.

To divert the restless MPs,the party had thoughtfully provided up-to-the-minute entertainment,allegedly treating them to the latest Bollywood flick on the amoral world of Indian politics. Unfortunately,the film is still running in theatres,and so the DVD would have to be a pirated one. Its director Prakash Jha has threatened legal action against the BJP and declared himself appalled the very guardians of the law were flouting it. (Of course,Jha wouldn’t blink at S&M,murder,rape,abandonment of babies,rampant corruption,extortion etc,which features as a fact of political life in his films — but a DVD rip-off shakes him to the core.) BJP MLAs,though,seem unrepentant about the IPR iniquity,saying Jha was “making a mountain out of a molehill”.

As for Jha’s question about how lawmakers can be lawbreakers,perhaps because intuitively many in India do not equate piracy with straightforward theft,any more than they view photocopying as one. The general attitude is much like Jha’s own vision of Indian politics — ethically indifferent,caught up with immediate gain,and accompanied by a rather dim sense of consequences.

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