Monday, December 20, 2004

P - o - r - n - o - g - r - a - p - h - y

The following is an extract from the Indian Penal Code taken from a popular website

Section 67: Publishing of information which is obscene in electronic form.Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on the first conviction to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees.

Section 79: Network service providers not to be liable in certain cases. For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that no person providing any service as a network service provider shall be liable under this Act, rules or regulations made thereunder for any third party information or data made available by him if he proves that the offence or contravention was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence or contravention.

Explanation. For the purposes of this section

a. 'network service provider' means an intermediary;
b. 'third party information' means any information dealt with by a network service provider in his capacity as an intermediary.

So two separate threads are dominating the headlines. The Kareena kiss thing and the Delhi Public School under-age por n scandal.

I would assume safely the contents of the Delhi Public School video clip is pretty high-level. It should be so Clinton-Lewinsky kind of high level that some regular professional XXX porn stuff may take a backseat. Otherwise the Delhi police might not have been offended so much that they are on a vindictive trail arresting the entire network.

Its interesting right. Some school kids have their harmones on a high and so decided to get naughty. The guy nicely cons the girl, tapes her and then he shows himself to be pretty sinister in forwarding the recording to his friends( probably boasting to them of his big catch). the friends, in-turn forward it all over India. What happens next, the high-flying CEO of (ebay equivalant) sipping wine and dining with fine people in the US finds himself locked in jail. And that too the nauseating sub-human Thihar jail. Wow!

I agree with almost everything the Delhi police is doing. They must've been frustrated with so many law-evasions that they want to make some one an example. It has worked from that angle. But I don't quite agree so much with the laws surrounding these incidents and the arrest of the Bajaj fellow. You don't arrest a CEO because the restroom cleaner pee'ed on somebody. Its really unfair to him ( the CEO that is). I hope the time will come that the police will freeze the organizational structure and then trace exactly.... the dude who is responsible for the "oversight" and arrest that specific person. Arresting the CEO is very vague. Its like arresting our Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh if some Indian in the US violates immigration laws. You can comeup with a reasonable argument as to how Manmohan singh could have ensured that every Indian behaved well in the US but it would be an in-effecient way of looking at the problem.

I am quite sad for Ravi Raj the IIT student who decided to make quick money selling the tape in If he comes from a poor family then thats pretty irresponsible of him to have done this. It all looks funny when you do it, right? You don't even know a law exists to prevent whatever you are doing. and when you find out, its like a surprise. When the dude is arrested he could be saying something like " I didn't know the Indian Penal Code off the top of my head officer. There are just too many sections that I tend to forget the first sections when I am reading the final ones." The poor guy has to study for IIT exams which are already so tough and on top of it has to learn the IPC in detail :-) On the serious side I do think anything you do that borders on the grey side of black will get you in trouble pretty fast. I know of quite a few people who have squandered their lives doing unnecessary "extra-curricular" "activities" while relegating their college degree to the back seat. Raviraj learned it on-his-face. His career is gone. He will be obviously expelled (even if he wins the court case). What a waste of a life ?

The first thing to look at is the law itself.

How many people know all the sections of the IPC in detail? Not possible right? If we are doing something and we don't know if its legal. We don't stop to browse the law books right? In the DPS case it must be a pretty tough thing for the guy to do with his pants down :-). I hear what you are saying!! "That's p orn. I don't do it". Well fine. But is there anything else you do thats prevented by the law. Do you know all the things you can or cannot do ? Does that mean only a person who gets caught is the offender and everybody else are by-th-book. Is perception reality? What I am getting at is. Is the government advertising their laws well enough. Are the citizens aware? If you ask me I'll say no.

The Kareena Kapoor kissing-her-boyfriend affair shows that PDA ( funnily called Public Display of Affection) is banned. I did not know that. Coming out of my 12th grade after-school tuition classes from Guntur subbiah school, I could not help noticing that Dr.Natesan park in T.Nagar used to be a showroom for PDA's. Imagine the number of accidents that have happened near the park..with people bending over backwards to catch a PDA or two. In general Indians have shown a poor awareness towards rules, regulations and laws. Its mostly learned the hardway. After the fact.

Both these incidents are sort of pioneers. I had an American collegue who used to joke "War teaches Americans Geography" . I guess scandals are the way Indians will learn law.

Now there are many of my friends at work, who keep arguing "why is PDA wrong. She is my girl friend. We can pretty much do whatever we want". Its a tough call. I do not know what to say on this. I agree to a certain extent such a freedom should be given in India. After all we are a democracy. But where do you draw the line and how do you communicate it to the farmer in Bihar who doesn't care a rat's ass if his 7th and 8th wife don't wanna be room mates. It is obviously okay to a certain extent in the US, you can go pretty far before people start saying "get a room guys". People are well aware of the rules there. India is a different ball game altogether. Even now in most places outside the metros people don't hold hands in public. We are changing ( I did not say developing. I said changing) at different rates withing the country. What this means is that we have people who strongly agree and dis-agree with PDA or pre-marital fun stuff.

Then comes the "who are these police officers?" part. If cops, lawyers, judges come from the metros they are more willing to understand this as part of a specific lifestyle (which only means punishment will be on the lower range). If they come from places where this is frowned upon they will throw the book on you and prosecute you pretty hard. Which is what I guess is happening to the school students. A closer look at the Law books reveals that the law prohibits any form of sexual relationship, intimacy, physical touching that borders on sexual behavior, intercourse, outside of marriage. I did not know that either. So what our laws say is that if two people are 'doin it' and if they aren't married ( to each other.. otherwise it doesn't make a lot of sense :-) ) then they have violated the law and are liable to porridge or chill-out in jail for 5 years. Pretty cool huh!. Try telling that to Kamal Hassan, Karunanidhi and 20% of the Indian population.

Now I am not trying to take any moral high gorund here. I have never passed a judgement on anybody ( except raviraj) here. I just took the lawbook and tried to objectively interpret it. To me it appears that the Law is not well understood by the people and it also appears out-dated. The key is do we have the visionaries to change it so that its makes sense, in sync with our tradition and at the same time providing a sense of democracy ? I do not think we have.

On the other-hand, I will never condone the school kids who actually participated in this. 'Doin it' when you are below 18 years is pretty risky. Yes! people fool around and all that but it is still if you are under-age it is risky. US has the strictest possible rules for under-age sexual behavior. I guess even with that the law, for various reasons, cannot be strictly enforced. India is waking up to this phase where love marriages is rapidly over-taking the arranged ones. Which means kids in this country are gonna start dating at school and parents will have to be okay with that. How do you know they arent crossing the line (wherever it is). How do you make sure you child is not part of a porn movie or a group sex thing. If at all this country wants to enforce any disipline some visionary law makers (wherever they are) need to start working.

It is not the banning of porn that I am talking about. Everybody has seen porn. Nobody in India can grow up to be a 25 year-old without seeing it. The ladies who are reading it, you should know that your husbands have seen it, you brothers have seen it, and right now (or in good time) you kids are seeing it. I am saying this not to appear stunning or in-your-face.

Why is it risky then?

The girl in that video has allowed herself to be willingly video taped. Since she is in high-school I am guessing, she cannot be older than 16 or 17 ( given that people pass out of XII grade at 17). If she has also willingly participated in some major level "acts", it could also mean she(and/or the boy (or) most probably both) could have seen porn videos to learn how to do it. If this is true then my point is two-pronged. Girls nowadays get access to porn matrial and videos and they do see them..willingly. But more importantly, even though they are aware of matters concerning sex to a certain extent, they can still be conned. The boyfriends could persuade the girls to perform non-trivial 'acts' and use porn to say "they are doin it! its okay! its fun". So porn in essence is used as a argument-winner, a substantiator.

I suspect girls are more liable to blindly follow whatever their boyfriends will say ( to a great extent) without protesting. Fear of being branded a non-cooperative person could be one reason but not understanding what they are getting into is a huge reason. In cases like Delhi public school, the 'brainwash' factor is definetly a huge factor. When a girl does not know a crap about the whole sex thing.... she might not know if she is playing with a nuclear bomb or a bijili and could easily mix up the two. Well I am not saying girls are idiots (that would be a sexist comment). I am saying something to the effect of "little knowledge is dangerous". Guys , especially the evil manipulative ones, (who think about porn all the time) will make sure girls mix em'(the nuclear bomb..) up.

What probably parents should take away from this incident is to make girls aware of the risks. Parents are in general easy-to-fool types. No seriously, no matter how educated you are( three Ph.D's in Pschology and adolescent behavior) if you are a parent you can be fooled in 3 seconds. Parents of Girls ( okay let me include boys for equality sake) definetly need to educate girl's on what is considered bad and what is not bad. The risks( in terms of teenage pregnancy, unknowingly becoming a porn-star) have to be clearly explained. Otherwise like this girl's parents many other parents could learn it from a news paper.

This is not the first such incident. I heard from collegues that some video called "mysore malligai" which was another video tape by a boy of a girlfriend in a variety of poses. Its seems the boy gave the tape to a professional video shop to copy the tape to a VCD and in a week's time every teenage kid in India secretly evaded his/her parents to see a copy of the VCD. I heard it destroyed the girl completely. More than superficial things like expulsion, the pyscological damage should be enormous. Many parents rest when they feel the girl knows what she is doing and will make the right decisions. Nowadays, many girls do seem to be "aware". But some still slip through the cracks because these things are so complicated that the girl is quite liable to get lost in the details and get confuse on the levels of what is right and what is wrong.

It is definetly a tough life for the parents no doubt!


Saurabh said...

Nicely written ... and thanks for putting up the two sections ...

As for knowing whats lawful and what is not ... its pretty simple actually ...
Just don't do what you know is bad and will eventually get you screwed ...

When people get jailed for things like eve-teasing ... what was this guy thinking ?
Shooting and then later distributing the stuff ... and then getting caught for it ... is natural ... a no brainer ...

Tonnes of people are talking about this issue.
I subscribe to Digit, and this was the topic of the editorial by Sachin Kalbag ... aptly titled "The End of Innocence".
What he tries to say is that its not banning or restricting access to things like the camera phones and stuff which is the solution to the problem ...
Its responsible parenting ...

As for the boy, if you are 17 and tech savvy enough to own and use a camera phone, shoot the video and then distribute the video ... you should have enough brains to know the consequences ...

MaK-D said...

okay this one is a bit late and may not even be read. Well yes hormones do take over brains...almost all the time. Girls might be aware but they like sex and it's ancilliaries also(they may pretend but are not nerve deprived). So thats another reason they are coaxed easily.

What i want to say is. Isn't saying "Use a condom, ALWAYS" and other comments to that effect more like saying "Go sleep with everyone one in sight as long as you use a condom?" Shouldnt it be more like "Be faithful and make your for the right reasons?"

PS. in case ur wondering i am saurabh's and nithin's class mate