Breaking News! And, by that, I do not mean a revelation or a scandal. It’s something that is actually going to break the funny bone of the people of the entire nation. Ban on Santa Banta jokes! The stereotypical Sardarji jokes that you wouldn’t miss listening to or even saying a two every now and then might soon become an illegal offense. Harvinder Chowdhary, a lawyer, has filed a PIL in the apex court and wants to end this exchange of ethnic jokes that depicts Sardars as unintelligent, naïve, and not well-versed with English.
Santa and Banta, the two stock characters, are archetypical to the male members of the Sikh community. Distinguished by their flatness, they have become easy targets to be criticized as clichés. Considered a staple in joking, they have been there for years and have been used unanimously in all forms of media and entertainment.
Why does she want it?
The petitioner Harvinder Chowdhary, feels ridiculed to be a part of the joke, since she is a Sikh herself.
“The jokes poke fun by purportedly portraying them as people of low intellect, stupid and foolish. We are being ridiculed by these jokes. We have sacrificed a lot but when we go abroad, we are ridiculed. I myself have suffered it. We want these to be stopped. The jokes relating to Sikh community should be stopped. My children are humiliated and feel embarrassed and they don’t want to suffix Singh and Kaur after their name”, Harvinder argued.
She also shed light on a recent comment by PM Narendra Modi in his Bihar election campaign that Biharis are intelligent people. As per her, this reflects that other communities are unintelligent.
“Don’t worry, when he will go to Punjab, he will say Sikhs are intelligent.” quipped the bench of justice.
Is it really demeaning?
The question was asked to a few famous people in Punjab and following are their opinions.
“I’m not pro banning anything, except bad jokes. If it were offensive, someone would have said so long ago. Even I crack those. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you don’t have the right to laugh at others”, said standup comedian Maheep Singh
“People don’t crack jokes just about sardars, they crack jokes about other communities too, especially on the internet or at parties”, says singer Harshdeep Kaur.
“Religious jokes bilkul harm karte hain. Sardar jokes nahi hone chahiye, kyunki kisi ki bhaavnaon ko harm nahi pahuchana chahiye. The only reason I don’t agree is that the new generation doesn’t know our culture, and these jokes can be very disrespectful”, says singer Sukh-E.
The final verdict
That is yet to be decided. However, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the public interest litigation saying, “This is only an amusement. Why do you want it to be stopped?…Prepare your case well. We will hear you.”
Ethnic jokes are prevalent in every society. For some, they could be a great source of laughter, for others offensive and derogatory. However, there is a fine line in between and it depends on one thing: your perception.
Do you support Harvinder’s move or you want Santa Banta Jokes to stay? They both need your support. Let us know which side you are by commenting below.