Our country took a historic step last year, when the High Court legalized homosexuality by decriminalizing section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. It was a joyous occasion for a small section of people in our country, many of who celebrated their happiness by getting into wedlock with their same gender partner. For a while I thought finally India is moving closer to total liberation and coming out of age on issues like this, which were swept under the carpet till recently. I was wrong.
The age-old saying of “Gay and Happy” has become redundant in India, even though our system is trying to keep pace with the ever-changing ethos and cultures of the world.
Once again axe of an archaic and irrelevant stance has chopped off the pride of a middle-aged man of India, a common man. While what transpired with this man is not unique in any manner in a country, where social dogmas have almost always got the better in all kinds of circumstances, it is quite disheartening to see that orders of even the high seat of justice are not conformed to in our land. Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, reader and chairman of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University, has been recently suspended for being gay.
What a way to honor a man who has served one of the most prestigious varsities of our country, especially while the professor was nearing his retirement.
My brain is still unable to comprehend the reason for his suspension. When the High Court of India has legalized homosexuality, I wonder what new logic or rule has AMU come out with, to justify its act. The professor’s suspension would have been logical had he been posing harm to the students of the university or elsewhere. However surprisingly, there is no such claim made by the AMU authorities, who have taken the legal baton in their hands.
The professor might be guilty in his personal life of cheating on his wife, but I have never come across any college or organization, which suspends its employee for practicing infidelity.
Is he being punished for being gay or for hiding his sexual preferences from the AMU authorities?
It is quite understandable that each university or organization has its own culture and legacy, which are lived and carried forward by the people associated with it. AMU is no different, except that its culture over powers the law of the country. How else can the AMU authorities explain the reason given by them for expelling the professor? If anybody should be feeling raw about the whole episode, it should be the professor. It was his privacy, which was breached by the students group and reduced to a mere piece of headline in newspapers. It was his fundamental right to choose and practice his sexual preference, which was awarded the status of a crime by the AMU authorities. Verdict is quite clear on who is the victim and who is the criminal here.
Eccentricity comes along with a price tag and this time it has costed Dr. Shrinivas his job laced with humiliation. The bunch of students who donned skin of a bull and breached into the privacy of their professor and took videos of the professor’s love making session with his partner, sure wanted to play Sherlock Holmes. Albeit this time their motive surpassed the sensibilities of a common man’s logic.
This issue goes beyond the case of Professor and AMU. This issue has again raised the question of sexual preferences, and the individual right to exercise it in India.
India might have passed a law on homosexuality just a year ago but the world history is replete with cases of people who have strayed away from the accepted norms of society and yet contributed heavily in the various fields of art, literature, sports, politics and so on. Elton John, George Michael, Martina Navratilova, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Alexander The Great are just a few names which have defined excellence in their respective fields. The list is long and strong enough to prove that sexual preferences do not bear any consequences on the talent of an individual in any manner in any field. Irony of this man's (professor) life is that while he was chairing the MODERN Indian Languages in one of the most prestigious universities, he has been thrashed by an ANCIENT belief.
AMU is punishing the professor for exercising his fundamental rights, which is a criminal act in itself. We, as a nation, have been fed so much on sensationalism that it has covered our emotions in incoherent apathy towards the mundane aspects of being a human being. With the professor having resigned to his fate, only time can unfurl the course of events in this case.
Its time when we realize that mincing progressive words and slogans is not going to put India on the pedestal of success and growth but aligning our thoughts with our words and metamorphosing them into actions is what our nation needs. A comprehensive walk towards more liberated and benevolent environment is a long pending and more pragmatic approach, which should be followed by our people who are frozen in time. Is AMU listening?