Public Display of Affection and Its Future in India.

Public Display of Affection and Its Future in India.

Author:- Deepansh Shukla

With a sample size of 80 people wherein 40 were old aged people from the age group 35-70 and the other 40 varied from the age of 18-25, I conducted telephonic and physical interviews asking, is ‘Public Display of Affection’ justified? A whopping 100% of old aged people said that it is wrong and 36 out of 40 young age people concluded it is wrong, substantiating it with different reasoning. Seven of them said the cultural ethos of India is a problem. If they witnessed the same in Europe or the USA, they would not have any problem with PDA. Although, believing that in India it is wrong. Ten of the rest 33 concluded that it makes them uncomfortable, hence, one should not show affection in public. Five of them said if with the family, they see an act of affection in public, they would be uncomfortable and if alone, they will not have any problem from a stunt of affection in public. The rest who were against PDA had other reasons. The rest four of them agreed and that affection in public is justified as it is their right to express themselves in public. After this analysis, the question to be answered is, does ‘Public Display of Affection’ have a future in India?

If we look at the past and Kamasutra, Sutra means thread and Kama means desire, a practice, a book which talks about desires and, the ways to fulfil it, the text extensively talks about different ways of kissing. The word kiss is not directly referred to but is termed, as drinking the moisture of the lips. In Europe with the advent of Christianity, kissing in public was strictly condemned as the bible promoted the “kiss of charity”. Judas’s betrayal to Jesus was by a kiss on Jesus’s neck which, in Europe was a reason for an error towards public kissing. Weddings were the only occasion when a couple could kiss in public. If we look at Europe in Roman times, the chastity of the women was identified, as something important. Hence, PDA was not much prevalent, back then. By the 1800s, to kiss a woman on the cheek was not accepted in the areas of Europe and America. Back then India used to be a colony and, PDA was not an issue of discussion rather freedom was. By 1900s, in England unmarried women were not even allowed to talk to the men. It is in the 20th century, that America and Europe became a symbol of modernism. As the freedom movement and women rights movement grew, the presence of Hollywood and the kissing scenes in the movies revolutionized the concept of public display of affection. Today in countries like the USA, Spain, Italy, public display of affection is common and people there do not consider it to be harmful to the culture or values. What are the reasons why India even after witnessing so much development could not readily accept PDA? And why a whopping number of people still believe it to be wrong? Following are some of the reasons why PDA does not have acceptance in India-

  1. Culture- India is a land of various religions, castes, races etc. The cultural ethos in India is of such a kind that here people believe that kissing and other sexual activities to show love is personal and is not compatible to be done in public.
  2. Affect on Children- As per the data, 34.3% of India’s population is below 15 and, 9.7% population is between the age of 15-19. And 34.3% of 1.32 billion is not a small number, keeping that in mind people in India worry that PDA will affect the kids, hence, it is not justified to carry out an act of affection in public.
  3. The communication gap between the parents and the children- In India, sex education is not a topic which is much discussed. In India sex education is lacking, which becomes a source of awkwardness. If parents and the children view an act of affection in public, they become awkward. Hence people do not support the idea of PDA in India.
  4. A new idea- PDA in the Indian context is fairly new, as India earned its independence in 1947. It adopted new ideas slowly but also grew more of its indigenous culture. In 2007, Shilpa Shetty’s effigies were burnt as a sign of protest, as she and a Hollywood actor publicly engaged in a sexually provocative manner. The reason for that happening in India is that we being culturally reserved do not embrace such alien ideas easily.
  5.  Meme Culture and The Social Media- Meme culture in today’s time tends to capture those who show an act of affection in public, joking out on them. These kinds of clips even go viral on social media.

These are few of the reasons out of many others for which people do not publicly embrace the idea of PDA in India. The question remains unanswered, does PDA have a future in India?

Answering that, Section 294(a) of the Indian Penal Code says- “Whoever, to the annoyance of others does any obscene act in any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both”. This section  substantiated with a growing gap between public and private life, in the coming 10 to 15 years there is no chance of PDA to have a bright future in India. Although, if India sees a cultural revolution, PDA might find a place in Indian culture or else it does not have a bright future in India. The current generation which is seemed to be flexible, does seem to consider PDA in good books. The past does not seem to affect the present. The present is shaped by the availability of ideas in the current days. 

In my opinion, PDA in India is not about a particular religion or not about being liberal. There is a bigger problem and the population is one of the reasons behind it. If we compare India with its counterparts in Europe, the population in Europe is  741 million whereas, in India alone, the population is 1.32 billion people. An act of PDA in India affects each Indian differently. Hence, as per me, an act of PDA should be carried with utmost caution. In urban areas, especially South Bombay and South Delhi will for once accept an act of PDA but would it be the same if carried out in a rural area? As 21% of India’s population is below the poverty line and would a topic of affection something, they will hold in high esteem when they cannot even earn money for two times of a meal? Other topics if resolved and education is given priority in India, there are chances for PDA to be successful in India in the near future.

One thought on “Public Display of Affection and Its Future in India.

  1. Having read this I believed it was really enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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