Before we ban the burqa, here’s my list of things India needs to ban. Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna. Any member of the Thackeray family entering politics. Any author who has ever written anything positive about this political non-party. Manoos machismo. Mumbai University vice-chancellors who quiver and concede every time they get a whiff of this machismo. Other family run outfits like the MNS. Ex-boyfriends who’ll never let you forget that sex MMS. Vegetarian society buildings. Rapists, of our women and our natural resources. Spitting. Pigeons. Bandicoots. Paedophiles, wife beaters, dowry givers, girl child killers and (dis)honour killings. Priyadarshan movies. Masterchef India. The petty politics of Bigg Boss. In fact, make that all GEC channels. Neon idols. Sanjay Dutt’s film career. Public speeches by Suresh Kalmadi. Paan stains. Corruption. And corrupt politicians. All committees (especially those that claim to organize) and panels. Anyone who believes we should bid for the Olympics or takes offence to anything I say in this space. Noisy firecrackers. Memory Plus and tuition classes. Peak hour road rage and roadworks. SMS spam. Dry days. Vastu shastra. Bollywood celebrities on Twitter. Hundred rupee Indian fiction. The rupee symbol. Substandard anything. Stone throwing. Canteen food. Machine coffee. Office politics. Smog and fog. Lead in our spinach. Unfit policemen and Hindi films that are not fit for public consumption. White bread. Bitter gourd. Poor hygiene. All contentious mandirs and masjids. And billion-dollar private homes. OTT weddings and the conservative aunties you invariably meet at these OTT weddings. Arranged marriages. Colour and caste politics. Fairness creams. Celebrities who endorse them. Indo-Pak posturing. Chinese whispers. All flowerpot-throwing and shirt-stripping politicians. Cellphones in movie theatres. Page 3 poseurs. Loudspeakers and loud speakers (especially that news anchor we all want to ban). Skinny jeans. Pocket billiards. Matrimonial advertisements. Homely girls. Mayawati statues. Gandhi family chamchas. Hunger and allowing our babies to die of it. Rabri Devi and all other wives with criminal connections. Red, saffron, and any-colour terror. Red and white Indian wine. Cut-off lists and cut-piece solutions. Plagiarism. Drunk drivers...all of us have a laundry list of ban-worthy items.
The Shiv Sena wants a burqa ban because it believes the item of clothing can be used to kidnap Mumbai’s little children. In Delhi there are often reports of people being abducted in Maruti Omnis. Should we ban the van too? The Congress wants to ban Javier Moro’s fictionalized biography of Sonia Gandhi, The Red Sari, because it’s not flattering enough. During the recently concluded Commonwealth Games the Delhi government thought it should temporarily “ban” all beggars and migrants who couldn’t be “verified”.
Pigeon coup: Who else thinks these birds are an urban menace? Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times
Imagine if all political, social and religious groups demanded we ban all the things/people they found objectionable. What would that leave us with? Probably only Sachin Tendulkar.
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