Wednesday, 11 February 2009

De-bag the rotters

You may have heard about the Pink Knicker protest planned for Valentine’s Day in India.
It’s a witty and apt reply to a nasty bit of sexist violence.
Briefly, a Hindi Nationalist outfit called Sri Ram Sena (Lord Ram’s Army), attacked young women last month in a pub in Mangalore, a college town in the southern state of Karnataka. The bigots thought that women in a pub was just ‘un-Indian’. Apparently Valentine’s Day gets their undies in an uproar too. Strange people.
A lively bunch of Indian ladies who call themselves the Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women are hitting back. Via a Facebook site, now over 10,000 strong , they’ve vowed to send pink knickers to members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the biggest and oldest group in the Hindu nationalist movement, which includes the SRS and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
This is because RSS members are nicknamed ‘chaddi wallahs’ for their habit of poncing about in baggy khaki shorts. Old viewers of Goodness Gracious Me will recall that ‘chaddi’ (or ‘chuddies’) is Anglo-Indian slang for ‘underpants’. You can read more about the campaign at or (which also has footage of the SRS in action).
I couldn’t help thinking of Roderick Spode, the would-be fascist dictator who is a bane of Bertie Wooster’s life in P.G. Wodehouse’s books. Spode, a parody of Oswald Mosley, leads the Black Shorts (in real life Mosley led the Blackshirts).
There’s another curious coincidence with the SRS case. Spode’s downfall is rapid when it becomes known that he made his fortune as "founder and proprietor of the emporium in Bond Street known as Eulalie Soeurs", the fictitious Ms. Soeurs being a designer of ladies' lingerie. Finally it is revealed that Spode IS ‘Eulalie Soeurs’.
In a memorable passage, Bertie Wooster tells Spode: ‘The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting "Heil, Spode!" and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: "Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?"’

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