It’s said a society’s maturity can be gauged by its ability to deal with humour and endure mockery. Judging by the uproar over Tanmay Bhat’s social media video mocking Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar, this put India somewhere in the terrible tweens.
The storm of responses calling the video crass is fair enough—everyone has a right to express their opinion, even if the sheer volume of outrage on display is somewhat bewildering.
But political parties joining the fray is truly dangerous. One of them—Maharashtra Navnirman Sena—has filed a police complaint, the cops have asked social networks to take the video down and other parties are clamouring for the government to take action against Bhat. This displays a lack of understanding of democratic fundamentals—not surprising when the same political outfits seem to consider it acceptable to commit violence and destroy public property.
Whether the video was offensive or not is beside the point. No individual should be targeted by the state for poor humour. India’s right to free speech may be circumscribed, but it doesn’t allow for such an Orwellian response.