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Andolan jeans

As always, Dear Reader, I bring you yet another exclusive story that very few people (other than me) know about. It begins with a hush-hush conversation that took place in the early 1870s in the city of San Francisco between two gentlemen (and I use the term loosely), a certain Jacob W Davis and a Levi Strauss.

‘You know,’ said Strauss. ‘In the 21st century, the ancient, all-knowing land of India will become a superpower. And we can’t let that happen, can we?’

Oy gevalt, we can’t,’ responded Davis, popping a crisp golden-brown latke into his mouth. ‘And I know exactly how to stop them.’

‘How? How?’ exclaimed Strauss, clapping his hands.

‘Let us invent jeans!’ said Davis.

The two evil villains then took large sips of their Manischewitz, and roared with laughter like a Jewish Joginder and a Yiddish Yama. And thus began the slow erosion of our pristinely protected, Alok Nath-curated, jean-free culture.

Mind you, far-sighted men of our land saw what was coming — like they always do when it comes to the welfare of their sisters and mothers. And they kept warning us from time to time about the pernicious effect this evil garment would have on our demure, god-fearing naris were it left unchecked.

For example, a few years ago, legendary singer KJ Yesudas was among the first to raise an alarm about this toxic garment’s evil influence on our hitherto obedient molés.

‘Women should not wear jeans and trouble others,’ he said at a public gathering to rousing applause. ‘Whatever should be covered, should be covered. We appreciate what’s concealed, and that’s our culture.’

But did we pay heed? No, sir. Our betis continued falling into the diabolical low-rise denim trap.

Around the same time, then Urban Administration & Development Minister Babulal Gaur fearlessly highlighted the evil nexus between alcohol, dancing and jeans.

‘Women in foreign countries wear jeans and T-shirts, dance with other men and even drink liquor,’ he said. ‘But that is their culture. It’s good for them, but not for India.’

Sigh. Still nothing changed. Women continued wearing jeans and dancing suggestively at non-Shivaratri, non-Garba events.

Union Minister Satyapal Singh weighed in, too, about bridal eligibility and jeans. ‘No boy will marry a girl who comes to mandap in jeans,’ he said, as culture-loving single Indian boys all over the world nodded in vigorous agreement. But when a young mother (accompanying her children) was seen in public, attired not just in jeans, but ripped ones, it took Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat to step up to the culture plate. ‘If such women go out, what kind of message are we giving out to society, to our kids?’ he lamented, looking skywards. ‘It all starts at home. A child who is taught the right culture at home, no matter how modern he becomes, will never fail in life.’

If at all anyone has atoned for their sins in this matter, it’s Akshay Kumar. Back in 2009, when an as yet unenlightened Akshay Kumar was walking the ramp at a fashion show, intoxicated by the hallucinogenic vapours of this corrupting garment, he made his wife, not yet anointed Smt Hasya Haddi, unbutton his jeans in full public view!

Look at him today. He is on the cover of Forbes, the second holiest book in our land. He regularly drinks gaumutra by his own admission. And he is producing and starring in Ram Setu.

Follow him, ladies, and change. From those evil jeans into nine-yard saris with bulletproof pallus. And declare, in one voice, Messrs Strauss and Davis andolan jeevis.

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a satirist. He has written four books and edited an anthology.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 6:30:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/andolan-jeans/article34171308.ece

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