Judging people is a speciality in Indian society. It’s a talent that most aunties and uncles love to utilize. Even Captain John Price from Call of Duty couldn’t match the ferocity and savagery the aunties and uncles show every time some kid does something unconventional or unprecedented.
Making everything a taboo is like making video games illegal in India.
They make sex education illegal but they have no problem with overpopulation in the country, they call live-in relationships illegal but they turn a blind eye on toxic relationship marriage. They mock people from the LGBTQIA+ community but they masturbate to gay or lesbian porn. They also mock people with disabilities but they will preach human rights in school.
They judge people on the basis of their skin colour and yet they say that discrimination on the basis of race is illegal. These taboos are nothing more than an excuse to hide their own hypocrisy and double standards, which reminds me of Blizzard banning Blitzchung for his support for Hong Kong Protest but the former has the audacity to talk about racism and George Floyd Protest. Talking about mental health in India is like finding a treasure crate on an island filled with booby traps.
And only the lucky few would actually have the access to good mental health facilities. The rest are just vulnerable to the claws of the society and their phase “log kya kahenge” which translates to what will people say? Sometimes the youth feels like that this ancient system needs to die like dowry.
In the time where the internet reigns supreme and people are realising the individuality in this otherwise collective society, people are now seeing the downside of the log kya kahenge. They see how people are being judged for their life choices which could be considered either a taboo or not traditional.
Imagine a guy or a girl having a conversation, an aunty would be seeing it from the terrace like a sniper waiting for his enemy to make a move. Just like that, she just makes assumptions about everything and anything like the boy and girl are dating or eloping or whatever garbage is filled in her degenerate mind. She then complains to their family members and the worst part about all of this is that… They’ll eat it up.
It’s funny that our society is hostile to outsiders just like Nepotism owned Bollywood is hostile to actors with no family background and yet they take the word of outsiders under the guise of neighbours over their own children and they react to what they say. Another example could be a girl who was refused to follow her dreams by her parents and the moment she refuses to marry someone of their choice, she gets penalised by the parents as well as the society. They don’t allow her to western clothes or marry someone out of religion, caste or even gender.
This mentality exists in every sphere of exam and it is a deterrent make children and young people fall in like a Stalinist State where people are forced to fall in line in order to not get shot by the NKVD. Family members would often push their children just so they could please society or they will face the Log Kya Kahenge attack by them.
Take an example of the results of the board exams, A is a class 12th Science student (the most oversaturated stream like Call of Duty) and she’s anxious for her results but her parents are more worried than her because they need to please society. And because of that, they forget their own happiness and the happiness of their own child. And then, there are her relatives. They won’t even bother about their own child even if he is sitting in a paan bhandaar (counter) eating paan and they have the gall to come to A’s houses and talk about her future and her choices, wasting their own time and hers.
It’s just an excuse to satisfy their own ego. This negligence can often affect the child in the long run. And there’s the Sharma Ji’s kid who has aced in all subjects and has is getting a lot of respect even though he is the same kid who is eating paan from paan bhandaar, the parents will encourage their kids to be like Sharma Ji’s kid.
The Norwegian movie, ‘What Will People Say’ follows the story of A who is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants living in Norway. She was kidnapped by her own parents because she tried to make out with a white boy and fearing the log kya kahenge mentality, the family kidnapped her and sent her to Pakistan where she lives with her Aunt so that they could get rid of her western ideas.
They even burnt her own passport so that they could make her stay. When she fell in love with the boy, she was harassed by the police and was ill-treated by the aunt, where the latter made her lie to her father just to save their own skin. Not only she was spat on the face by her father but was he was making her jump off the cliff because his “reputation” was destroyed in front. They eventually returned to Norway where she was not treated well because of the Log Kya Kahenge attitude. When she was told that her family is arranging her marriage and stop her education so that people will talk about her, A had had enough. She reached her breaking point and ran away from the house.
TheWire gave an insight of the psychological and emotional effects of the Log Kya Kahenge mentality where a girl named B left the house because of the toxic and sexually abusive relationship with her husband but she didn’t get any emotional or psychological support from her parents, in-laws, friends and even her counsellors in India. In the end, she went to the US where she got professional help and emotional support.
Her family continues to remain aloof towards her condition and are forcing her to get married to have a ‘normal life’. This even though they do not believe she was suffering from her trauma and dismiss it by saying “you don’t have a mental condition. Your mind is not in the right condition.” It shows a huge disregard for her well being. Thus, B maintains no-contact with her parents and has no intent to live with them anymore.
It’s not like the family members are not happy with their children’s choice but because of the society, they feel obligated to uphold their reputation. Even college graduations are just ceremonies for the family just so they can brag about their achievements in front of their friends, colleagues and their peers. In A’s case, her ‘drama’ has ruined her father’s ‘reputation’ over a bunch of entitled people like the ones on Reddit (r/entitledparents) who have not done anything significant in their lives and yet they have the nerve to whine about someone’s child about what they’ve done.
Probably don’t listen to them at all. Keep in mind that these people either have a lot of time or they don’t have something better to do so they will judge anyone regardless of so much pleasing to them. They love to affect someone’s mind with all their prejudices and stereotypes. Explaining to them that their constant judging often hurts people could be used but they’ll just do it anyway so, don’t even bother to hear what they say. This tactic is just a bygone era tactic implemented in the current generation of internet, Millennials and Gen Z by the older generation so that they could silence them in order to follow traditions and behaviours that are outdated. This is the reason why people are voicing out against this mentality.
If people somehow go as far as damaging the person’s reputation and dignity, then there are legal remedies to it. Section 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code talks about defamation and if someone tries to damage a person’s reputation then he will be punished with imprisoned which will extend to 2 years and/or pay the fine. If they start giving threats either general or anonymous then they can be charged under Section 503 and 507 which is criminal intention (with anonymity in Section 507’s case). The latter section will punish the person with imprisonment which will extend to 2 years.
The state should implement and update the mental health laws so that mental health illnesses like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc. are been treated well with competent psychiatrists and counsellors especially in the aftermath of the demise of Sushant Singh Rajput. The veterans of the First World War (especially the ones who had Shell Shock or PTSD) were treated badly by the society in the post World War 1 era. Above all, people should know that mental health should be taken seriously and should not be taken as a joke.
In conclusion, people will judge no matter what. But as Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid once said, “No mentality lasts forever”. And the world is dynamic in nature, even the things that are once considered as taboos will be accepted in the future. The mentality of log kya kahenge will die out too and will only turn into cinders. Until then… Just don’t listen to what people have to say.