The Supreme Court verdict on dance bars is just the slap the Maharashtra Government needed to realise that a ban is hardly the solution to (what it believes is) a problem. Unfortunately, whether it is a State government or the one at the Centre, both believe in inflicting on citizens (as Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said) a remedy that is usually worse than the cure. The government and its various arms are unable to do their jobs, so the easiest way out is to ban what they cannot control – and this, with all the infrastructure, manpower and machinery at their disposal.

What is even more ridiculous is the reaction of some politicians, and women among them. They claim that the opening of dance bars will lead to a spurt in crime. It is the most stupid observation I’ve read, but that coming from politicians, who usually talk without thinking, it is not surprising.  According to one of them, youngsters were robbing and maiming people so they could visit dance bars! Really, these guys think citizens still survive in some kind of time warp, and are fobbed off with such rubbish. Has crime miraculously come down since the ban?

I am sure this did not happen because of the presence of dance bars. This incident happened on April 24, this year, when the ban on dance bars was in place.

Or this incident, which happened in February this year. Or this one, which happened in September last year.

These are just three random incidents that I pulled out of the Internet. There are plenty more, like the rape and murder of Darshana Tongare, Jyoti Kumari Chowdhari and the Nayana Pujari in Pune. Every day we read about such cases from every part of the State. These happened much after the closure of dance bars in the State.

I am sure not every woman who dances in a bar is a prostitute. Many have husbands who have no problems with the profession their wives are in, and others have children, who they are putting through school. Circumstances have forced them to take to dancing in bars or working as waitresses. It is better than begging on the streets or doing what RR Patil believes ALL these women do? Instead of giving them a sympathetic ear and trying to solve their problems, Patil and his ministry go right ahead and deny them the right of livelihood – however ‘debased’ it maybe? I am glad the Supreme Court finally put RR Patil and his ministry in its place.  We have enough instances of  how incompetent Patil is. The Mumbai terrors attacks and the bomb blasts that have occurred in the State after that are proof that he really has no clue how to handle a crisis.

Just like a lot of other issues in this country – child trafficking, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking and crimes against women and minors – bar dancers are not going to disappear, because of a ban. Find a solution, Sir, don’t create more problems.

It’s just like the silly measures being threatened by Kapil Sibal and now by (the Indian caricature of Bertie Wooster esq) Manish Tewari, to ban social networking sites and file cases against anyone who pokes fun because they ridicule their crown prince and his family. Note – THEIR crown prince, not ours – at least not mine. You really cannot control the Internet. Even China has learnt that the hard way. Dissent only grows if you try to control free speech.

If the State government is so concerned about the health of its citizens, why not ban the riding of two-wheelers by all those who don’t wear helmets? Why not confiscate driving licences and their vehicles? As many, if not more, two-wheeler riders die every day in the State. But do you even hear of the State taking this issue seriously? The Southern Command authorities tried to implement a helmet ban in Pune Cantonment, but gave up because they got no help from the local police. The police personnel ride around without helmets, so how can they catch offenders?

The other day I saw a blog which makes fun of former president Pratibha Patil. Maybe, I am a bit old-fashioned in some respects, and I have a problem with people ridiculing a president, whether past or present. However, that does not mean I am going to dash off a mail to the blogger asking him or her to pull down the page. I read it and smiled at the inane comments made about her accompanied by pictures.

I heard that there is another one on Sharad Pawar floating around on the www. When the content on these portals is brought to Mr Pawar’s notice, I am sure he or his PR machinery will go into overdrive and ask the ministry to block it or send the offending blogger a legal notice.  Criticising him or his government’s policies is perfectly okay, but if you get personal then you should not be screaming about your right to free speech being violated, if and when you are slapped with a legal notice. Just as it is the blogger’s right to put up anything on the www it’s the right of the injured party to react that way.

Who wins that round has to be seen, but banning anything – from dance bars to websites – is not the solution to a problem.

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