To the millions who’ve been avid listeners to his melodious voice, the remarks on Gandhi Jayanthi of K J Yesudas on women’s dress code came as a shocker. The legendary singer, a recipient of honours like Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan, said when women wear jeans, others are forced to look beyond. “What is meant to be covered should be covered. Wearing jeans and roaming around attract unnecessary attention,” he said, triggering a deluge from women’s groups. Many couldn’t help wondering how a person like him who had spent many years in the US could speak so crudely on women’s attire.
Not surprisingly, quite a few fundamental organisations rushed to the support of the singer, as if they could not believe their luck. What they had been saying for many years, but had been derided by the public, suddenly found resonance in a personality venerated by all sections in Kerala. Social media went ballistic with some even posting jeans-clad images of the singer’s daughters-in law, with advice that he should start practising at home what he preaches. Earlier, there was focus on whether students sporting beard undermine campus discipline when the management of a renowned college in Kerala came out with a list of dos and don’ts for its students.
Of late, many a prominent personality have been showing keenness to get into a race to say things which we least expect of them, often resulting in their loss of credibility. On the flip side, such utterances, that one would normally associate with fringe groups that publicly advocate culture policing, also set in motion debates whether there is an increasing tendency among people with great public standing to take it upon themselves to pass judgment about aspects of personal choice and freedom, hitherto confined to private domain. Clearly, cultural icons would be better off not turning cultural policemen and better expend their energy in things they are familiar with.