Attitudes towards interfaith, inter-caste love and courtship vary significantly. The article explores this paradigm alongside other intersectionalities that students think to hinder them from attaining free expression of love.
A very significant political cum societal event that recently brought the entire discourse around free will in loving someone was the Love Jihad Law. We saw videos of consent holding individuals and couples being taken by the police. They were being thrashed under the veil of this law which was terrifying to watch not just because it was draconian but also the censoring of pure sentiment like love is depicted.
If I talk about the era of 1960s and 70s when our parents were born. Most Indian kids would never express their love for someone openly in front of their parents, a trope that’s memorialized in our Bollywood movies. Keeping this history and trajectory in mind, it’s not surprising to see how Indian youngsters still today do not hold absolute positive views while dating someone from a different faith. All because of the fear of being caught, beaten or perhaps because of the institutional boycott the family or community does.
Thus, as discussion around love has gained momentum, I thought it best to talk about this issue to Generation Z across Delhi University. However, this article goes beyond institutional or law-sanctioned hindrances to cover some general social issues that the students feel can come in their paths while trying to date or express love for someone. What this article also tries to do is, portray how elements like religion, caste, culture etc. vis-a-vis love are looked at by millennials and Generation Z in 2021.
Read more on Anti-Jihad love law by clicking here.
Attitudes towards Faith
“Well, despite myself having been raised in an extremely open environment, I would not be able to freely date anyone who is not belonging to my religion because of the way cultural differences come out. While I obviously believe that it’s an absolutely wrong practice, the way we as Indian community have perpetuated caste system and faith, it’s not at all possible to express love openly without facing wrath from the society or my own family. “Anonymous, Student, Delhi University
Recently, The Swaddle did a similar video series on “Why do Indians have to date in Secret?”. And it’s beautiful to see how one can contextualise this entire Indian fear of dating in the larger framework of social differences like caste and culture. In my opinion, while dynamic changes are definitely taking place especially in a liberal space like Delhi University which allows one to freely express themselves, we also need to understand that liberal expression of love is a privilege. This is mostly a privilege to those students or youngsters who are fitting in the ideal norm of society which in my opinion is: so-called “normative” heterosexual love or relationship with a person belonging to the same caste, religion, culture.
So I do strongly believe that Indian historical cum spiritual norms still govern the many aspects of a person’s love life, in this case, a student’s.
Watch: The Swaddle video by clicking here
One significant pattern I found while talking to people was how queer identity severely curtails one’s ability or free will in expressing love. Gen-Z has definitely been able to map the generational gap that exists between them and their parents. Yet the free expression of love comes at a cost. The cost is extreme and traumatic: hate messages, slurs attacking one’s sexual orientation, a boycott by family, no acceptance from relatives, etc. Thus, while on one hand, we have religion, on the other hand, one’s sexual orientation becomes a factor that determines how freely one can engage in courtship.
“I mean not necessarily in DU, but casual homophobia is always there. I am studying in a girl’s college and most of the time I hear so much homophobic comments on a daily basis. So much that I feel uncomfortable saying that I also love girls. I wouldn’t know much about class and culture’s part in case of love in my college but I have been to many north campus colleges and people usually date someone from their own culture but I think that’s understandable but when they drag class or religion in that matter, it’s a bit uncomfortable.”Anonymous, Student, Delhi University
A General Takeaway
The established norm that we all take to be a given is that love in 2021 for students is extremely free, easy to do, smooth and empowering. But keeping in mind the extreme right-wing landscape, one cannot shut eyes on the Anti-Romeo squads in Uttar Pradesh (UP) that were in news few years back. While Anti-Romeo squads “apparently” took consenting couples away regardless of their faith, the Anti-Jihad love Law is doing it on the very foundation of faith.
Read more on Anti-Romeo Squad by clicking here.
“Love for me means no boundaries, it’s a way which goes beyond infinity. To experience love one has to understand what it beholds and what it leads to. As far as I am concerned, I’ve not been lucky enough to find love. However, as I stated earlier, love for me can’t happen after asking someone’s caste, if you love you just rise above the atmosphere of this materialistic world. I have been lucky enough to not witness any sort of discrimination on whatsoever basis in DU especially on the note of love interest. I’ve friends who are in a relationship which is “inter-caste” per se and while being on DU they have never faced any sort of judgement or critique .”Anonymous, Student, Delhi University
My reason for using these two laws is to establish the idea that love in today’s age is censored strongly by lawful mechanisms combined with the regular day-to-day censoring by peers, society, etc. While the above experiences by few students support my claim, a lot of students also talked about how in a liberal university like University of Delhi (DU), it’s easier to date someone even when cultural boundaries are crossed. However, in my opinion, that’s mostly the case of privilege.
Thus, while we do see attitudes towards social ingredients like culture-changing vis-a-vis courtship and Generation Z too accepts the fact that one needs to look beyond narrow boundaries; one cannot claim that a 100 per cent accepting attitude towards love has been attained or can ever be attained in near future.
Read our correspondent’s piece on Love Jihad by clicking here.
Featured Image Credits: BBC