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<nettime> Social networking, the new pressure group in India (by Swati P
Frederick Noronha [फ़रेदरिक नोरोनया] on Thu, 12 Feb 2009 06:41:13 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Social networking, the new pressure group in India (by Swati Prasad)

Social networking, the new pressure group in India
Posted in Inside India by Swati Prasad on 2009/02/11 13:40:09

On Feb. 6, I received an invitation from a friend to join a group on
Facebook--A Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women. The
group had been created a day back and had garnered a few hundred
members. I instantly recognized what this movement was all about and
decided to join it.

Here's the group's description: "Join us on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day,
the day on which Indian women's virginity and honor will self-destruct
unless they marry or tie a rakhi. Walk to the nearest pub and buy a
drink. Raise a toast to the Sri Ram Sene."

The group already has nearly 16,000 members and is growing by the minute.

Sri Ram Sene is a "right-wing" organization that calls itself the
custodian of the Indian (read: Hindu) culture. They view the growing
popularity of the Valentine's Day, the rising culture of going to pubs
and discotheques (by young boys and girls) an organized conspiracy of
the West. In an interview with a TV station, the Sri Ram Sene's chief
Pramod Muthalik, termed these trends an attack on Hinduism by
Christianity (and all these years, I thought Valentine's Day (V-day)
was the perfect marketing gimmick greeting card companies, hotels,
bars, jewelry brands, etc, had stumbled upon).

On Jan. 25, members of the Sri Ram Sene had barged into a pub in
Mangalore and assaulted girls who were there. Their reasoning: the pub
culture isn't Indian, and this was needed to keep the mothers and
daughters safe from the onslaught of Western ideology.

The Sri Ram Sene has threatened to get boys and girls married if they
are seen holding hands on V-day. Either they get married, or the girl
ties the boy a rakhi (a band that a sister ties on her brother's wrist
on a Hindu festival called Rakhi)

However inane and bizarre this controversy may sound, it is yet
another divide within this country. The Indian economy may have grown
at a fast pace, but mindsets have not. In urban India, highly-educated
and modern women exist alongside women who still live behind veils and
are not allowed to speak in front of their fathers, brothers and

I have never waited for Valentine's Day more eagerly. I really want to
see whether this is just another "virtual" group, or whether its
members actually will step out and fight the Sri Ram Sene. If this
group is actually able to stand up against the Sri Ram Sene on Feb.
14, then I would say that social networking has really come of age.

It certainly promises to be one of the strongest pressure groups the
world has ever seen.


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