Monday, September 05, 2005

Wtf?!

Mid-Day reports:
The 20th year of Independence Rock which was to be held yesterday and today, was cancelled when Mumbai Police Commissioner A N Roy decided “rock music” couldn’t be allowed at the Gateway of India.

In an impromptu press conference, Farhad Wadia, the organizer , showed the media permission letters he had obtained from: The state government, BMC, fire brigade, PWD, Archaeological Survey of India, local police, traffic police, and the entertainment tax officials.

However, joint commissioner of police, Arun Patnaik said, “Although they secured a no-objection certificate from all the authorities, finally the police has to allow permission for the event. Wadia should have come to us earlier on. It is wrong to say we denied him permission at the last moment.”
Farhad Wadia, in an open letter to rock fans, writes:
This too me reeks of a simple prejudice that Rock listened to by Middle Class Non-Affluent College Kids is Sound Pollution & Jazz Rock Or Fusion patronized by the Page 3 Crowd was Sweet & Appropriate Music …. Once again a Government Official who has been invested with these Absolute powers by the Government has let his personal taste in music / perception of Rock Music influence his decision. (H/t for both links: Amit Varma).
This is an absolute outrage. Who the hell died and made AN bloody Roy king? And the bugger has the nerve to say that the concert was cancelled due to fears of "sound pollution". This after his political masters have abased themselves repeatedly in front of the Supreme Court to extend the loudspeaker deadline for Ganpati mandals, loudspeakers that play earsplittingly loud trance and remix music all night long.

As I see it, the police made three basic objections, all of which I find baseless. First: The police said that the noise will damage a historical monument. However, Farhad Wadia had obtained a No Objection Certificate from the Archaeological Survey of India. Does AN Roy think he knows the sound tolerances of the Gateway better than the chaps whose job it is to maintain it? Second: The police also maintained that I-Rock could not be allowed because "it is a private event." However, in the past six months, the police has okayed four events at the same venue, two of which were the Mumbai Mirror Launch and Bal Thakeray's Book launch. Now it seems to me that both the Times of India and Bal Thackeray are equally private. Perhaps they are more equal than Farhad Wadia. Third: The police claim that I-Rock is not an appropriate event to hold at the Gateway. But, last time I checked, the police was there for law-enforcement, not for nebulous-extra-legal-propriety-concerns enforcement. They ought to look that up.

There are, of course, larger issues here. There has of late been a rising trend of paternalistic we-know-what's-best-for-you regulation enforced by various state and local governments. Politicians like Dharam Singh and RR Patil have come to regard enforcement of their interpretations of "Indian culture" as a higher calling than mere administration, which is ostensibly what they were elected for. The people appointed to preserve and protect our Constitution don't give two shits for the rights to freedom of speech and expression enshrined in it. Two-bit babus and cops feel that they have the right to force their prejudices and narrow-minded views on the people they are supposed to serve.

This is unacceptable. We must not allow this incremental erosion of our fundamental rights to continue unabated. Today they try and control what you listen to, tomorrow they will try to control what you wear, who you can marry (the Bombay Univ VC and N. Modi have already tried these two), and ultimately, what you think. Please spread the word about this, and join the protest. This shit stops here.

Posted in Rants and Raves.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally completely agree. These guys have such a screwed up sense of justice...Ahh the irony!!
-Swati

12:46 PM  
Blogger Anand said...

Mostly agree..

But I still feel that this fracas could have been avoided had FW got his papers in order before he began

8:22 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Dude, he did. That's what this whole thing is about. The Mumbai Police vetoed the concert even though he had all his permissions

10:00 AM  
Blogger Nitin said...

Kunal,

You are right in pointing out the parallels with Dharam Singh's Bangalore. In fact the parallel should be with the Taliban's Kandahar. It does not matter if you are imposing a medieval Islamic morality or modern Mumbai-Police-morality: it is just bad public policy.

Where are the PIL guys? This is a matter for the courts to decide.

5:32 AM  
Blogger Nikhil K said...

Hey, I got 1540. And dude, your blog sure is going places ( literally too ).
Good work.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Nitin: I agree, we want a PIL. The Bombay Commissioner has too many overriding discretionary powers for his own good. But I don't think we should compare them to the Taliban just yet, there's still some diference between disapproving of a certain type of music and banning music altogether on pain of death.

Nikhil: Congrats macha. We want party! And thanks.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Michael Higgins said...

Kunal
This is just bad government. Governments shouldn't play favorites when it comes to allowing concerts. And these politicians are probably shooting themselves in the foot since they are just upsetting a lot of people who might have supported them.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Hi Michael,
You're right , but the politicians here are really quite shameless. There was one time, when the hard Hindutva chaps banned Valentine's Day, when a Shiv Sena youth leader was asked whether the party was worried about pissing off all the potential voters. The guy had the gall to say something to the effect that we don't have to worry about the disapproval of middle class kids, they don't vote anyway. This incident will blow over, no action will be taken, because no one who matters cares.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with FW, Mumbai Police are only know to screw up, when the Mumbai Floods happened all the cops disappeared, they are not "for the people" but "against the people"

7:56 AM  

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