The police may always be sleeping on the job, but the moral police are always on the job. Farmers are killing themselves in Vidarbha, inflation is soaring through the roof in Matunga, Maoism is penetrating Chandrapur, chauvinism is raging in Bombay… but the most important item on the agenda of Maharashtra’s politicians seems to be the “bulging breasts” and “gyrating bellies” of the cheer girls of the Indian Premier League.
Opposition MLAs have said the “vulgar” actions of the cheer leaders “degrade Indian culture“, and that they were “worse than bar dancers” who were rendered jobless after the live bands were banned in an earlier burst of prudishness. Last year, home minister R.R. Patil had called the cheer girls “obscene”. But the entry of cheer leaders from Washington seems to have provided the debate a fresh edge.
Questions: Is it OK for cheerleaders to whip up excitement and keep the spirits up among spectators in a Twenty20 match, or is it not quite cricket? Are the hip-wiggling actions and jhatka-matka gyrations of the girls vulgar, or are they just a sign of the times? When the girls are not being forced to dance and prance around, does anybody have any business telling them what to do? If near-naked film stars on television at prime time is OK, what is the problem with cheer leaders?
Photograph: courtesy Saggere Radhakrishna