Indian millennials & Hotel revenue streams have a more open-ended relationship than ever before. But is India ready to be an adult about it?
A Guest Column By Manvi Singh
Pre-marital sex is not a legal offence in India. It is perfectly within the legal right of citizens to engage in acts of consensual sex, even if it happens in a hotel room (which they have paid for).
Apps such as OYORooms, StayUncle, Tinder and more have been enjoying a joyride of acceptance among their own users. Consider this - The StayUncle App (a service that specializes in providing discreet and secure hotel stays to unmarried couples) has been downloaded more than 50,000 times already.
Today, OYORooms encourages its hotel partners to put up this signage outside quality-verified residences in a script that is easily legible to local residents: UNMARRIED COUPLES ARE WELCOME. They even have an official stance on the subject, confirming that it is perfectly legal, and that they are proud to offer their services to unmarried couples. I'm happy about that.
But that's not the "Burning Question", OYO.
We already know these things (and in saying 'we', yes - I am referring to a class of people otherwise largely ignored by the Indian populace. Educated, self-aware people who know what's within their rights, and have a perfectly clear understanding of how to behave in public) and we are aware that things have indeed changed since an era where people had to think twice before kissing in plain view.
The real problem is...
What has me in splits right now, is the 'obvious' polarity among Indian citizens, on the subject of how right or how wrong this phenomenon is. Of course, as Indians we are plagued by this dilemma continuously - we are polar aboutour politics, about our food, about things that were never binary in the first place, but we end up pushing it to binary extremes anyway.
As Barack Obama commented on the David Letterman NetFlix special, the world today lacks a common baseline of facts. And as a result, we allow our preferential biases to only affirm those statements which we believe to be true. There is not enough distribution of neutral data to educate everyone about a specific subject, and this is plain scary.
So on one side, we've got a visibly liberal army, trying to push acceptance for same-sex marriages and people like Sanchit Sethi, who are outspoken advocates of the 'right' to copulate (pardon me if that sounds a little crude), and on the other side, we have a brigade of people claiming all sorts of things, like "Sex in hotels is the same as prostitution", and raises a brow (or sometimes a bat) when people hold hands in public. India is probably one of the last remaining democracies where there are still instances of couples being beaten up for kissing in public or even walking hand-in-hand.
Is it just 'Jealousy' or 'FOMO' or a combination of the two?
Or is it something bigger... Tyranny, fueled by the resolve to sell an ideology?
As a citizen of this lovely country, I have always wondered how someone else (read: someone who is not a part of my immediate circle) gets to decide how I'm supposed behave around my loved ones. Yes, there are laws around public display of affection, which are extremely archaic and need to be fixed, but more on that in further columns.
But if we, the "millennial" citizens of India are willing to abide by the law of the land, why are units that are meant to protect us, trying to torture us instead?. I wonder how moral policing still survives in India. Our moral compass as a nation seems to be at the same mental level as a child, who was once told that black cats can cause bad luck, and now the child insists on killing all black cats! Even cute lil' pets. And that's absurd. It's time to be an adult about it, India!
Licensing The Right To Love
As if the polar groups of conflicting ideologies wasn't enough, there's this added dilemma of 'Pre marital sex' and 'Post marital sex'. So much so, that it makes me want to apologize for putting the phrase in the title in the first place. There's just two types of Sex from where I stand - Consensual, and otherwise.
And yet, somehow - the 'invisible, morally high' state of India seems to consider that there are licenses involved in the simple actof making love. I want to ask these people - Why is Sex before getting married a sin, and Why is it okay after Marriage, even if it borders on rape?
Note that Marital Rape laws are still not effective in India. Boom!
The Last Word
Look, guys (and girls, if you're in on this weird moral debacle too) - nothing personal. It's just that we as a generation have enough issues to sort out among ourselves, couples need to be counseled on subjects that you have no idea about, and we are trying to sort these out so that we can make actual, tangible progress.
Relationships are extremely personal in Nature. Just like we never questioned how or why your father/grandfather/great-grandfather asserted patriarchy over your mother/grandmother/great-grandmother/aunt/great-grand-aunt... because that stuff is in the past, I urge you to not bother with this generation, because we are the future.
And as far as terms & conditions are concerned, I think the only ones worth reading are the ones published by OYORooms and StayUncle. And if we agree, you better too.
#Acceptance Is King.
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Note: Manvi Singh is a Guest Columnist on The Times Blog, who was selected to participate in the beta rollout of our contribution program. If you feel you can contribute towards your own opinion column, please write to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of us will assist you in signing up as an author.