The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Machismo without a cause

Sir — It is not unusual for young boys to grow up idolizing filmstars, not their real-life persona but their screen roles. The single biggest influential filmstar in India has been Amitabh Bachchan. An entire generation of the Sixties and the Seventies has wanted to grow up to become like the “angry young man” and give the rich tyrants of the world a dose of their own medicine. But look at Bachchan’s last few films. Two of them are about robberies (Aankhen and Kaante), a slightly earlier one about conmanship (Bade Mian Chhote Mian). Under the circumstances, an incident like the one when 11 young students were arrested on charges of a series of car thefts and robberies was waiting to happen (“Looting lessons, courtesy Bollywood”, Jan 21). Unlike films like Deewar, where the hero resorts to violence to fight a wrong, the new films promote highly sophisticated robberies almost as a form of art. Machismo without a cause is bound to have harmful social repercussions.

Yours faithfully,
Sultan Ahmed, Calcutta

Sex and society

Sir — Where are we (“HC asks Centre to clarify stand on homosexuals”, Jan 15)' The Netherlands has recognized registered gay partnerships since 1998, and laws allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children came into effect in 2002. German gay and lesbian couples exchanged rings, cut cakes, sipped champagne on August 1, 2002, as a new law came into force allowing official registration of same-sex partnerships. South Africa’s highest court ruled that homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children. When all this is happening in the same world of which India is the largest democracy, why is it that we, the gay people of India, our feelings and sexual predilections are exiled to the dark confines of Article 377'

Homosexuality is a part of human evolution which cannot be stopped by law or by preaching moral conduct, nor will its legalization turn the world sterile. Homosexuals form a small group, and many of them lead bisexual lives for fear of social ostracization. This is one of the reasons why many of them fall silent victims to AIDS. It is a now-or-never situation for the government; it must redefine Article 377 and spell out clearly the real status of a gay man. Is he a criminal, or is he at par with the heterosexual citizens of the country'

Yours faithfully,
Rupam Bhattacharjee, Siliguri

Sir — A homosexual person grows up in Indian society feeling that he does not belong there. Despite the considerable coverage which the media give to the issue of homosexuality, there still are a large number of people who do not realize what it means to be a homosexual and yet function as a normal person (“Don’t look back”, Jan 17).

The time has come for society to make a positive move towards accepting the homosexual person’s experience just as they do the heterosexual person’s. The primary impediment in adopting this way of thinking is that the sexual instinct is seen in relation to reproduction and propagation of the species. Homosexuality, extra-marital sex or intercourse between people incapable of reproducing or past their reproductive age are difficult to accommodate in this scheme of things. This is a distorted view of the nature of human experience, more so because it refuses to recognize pleasure and companionability as reasons for having sex.

Homosexual relations are just as real as heterosexual ones, and they need not be regarded as manifestations of a disordered personality. The homosexual person, however, has problems of self-discovery. It would help if more homosexual persons were to come forward bravely and identify themselves so that people could wake up to the fact that there are many ordinary men and women who, among other aspects of their personality, happen to be homosexual. Legal amendments are necessary, but more important than changing the law is to change the prevailing attitude among people.

Yours faithfully,
Surajit Basak, Calcutta

Sir — When a man goes to have sex with a woman with her consent, it is called love-making and when he performs the same act without her consent, it is called rape. The second is of course, a punishable act. Similarly, if two adult men opt for their own way of sexual intercourse, and if they do it with each other’s consent, where is the requirement of any law' Who is to define which is a natural and which an unnatural way of having sex' Surely nothing can be called a sexual crime until it amounts to child abuse or rape.

There is another tricky aspect to the issue. For an event to be identified as a crime, it is necessary for the aggrieved party to lodge a first information report. It would be foolish to expect that one of the two men enjoying a consensual sexual relationship will go to the police station and report the matter. In any crime, we find a culprit and a victim. But, in the case of homosexuals, how will the law decide who the culprit is and who the victim' It is in the interest of the nation facing a serious AIDS scare to accept homosexuality so that cautionary announcements can be displayed in public by the government health departments and non-governmental organizations.

Yours faithfully,
Rajesh K. Sharma, Kankinara

They also serve

Sir — A few weeks back, the Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, in which I was travelling for the first time, reached New Delhi late. Owing to the delay, the pantry staff had to arrange for emergency lunch for the passengers within a very short span of time. What amazed me was the warmth and courtesy with which they served us biryani and asked the passengers who refused to have lunch at that hurried hour, to take the packets with them. I felt a little guilty that I had been extremely apprehensive about the quality of amenities during the journey.

Yours faithfully,
Ramesh Kakarania, Howrah

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