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Kamadeva who? - The Economic Times

Editorial ()
17 February 1997

Title : Kamadeva who?
Author : Editorial
Publication : The Economic Times
Date : February 17, 1997

Seventeen centuries ago, Vatsyayana described 64 different ways of
making love in his Kamasutra. Thus, long before Gutenberg's
discovery of the printing press, India led the world in publishing
sex manuals. Today, the title of the book has been turned into a
condom brand name, and Indians get more thrills from drippy,
bleeding-heart toys and cards than by the real thing in 64
different positions. St Valentine is in, Kamadeva and his bible are
out. What a bore. One reason behind Kamadeva's relative eclipse,
and the Saint's relative ascendancy, is the failure of Indians to
peg a particular date to celebrate the deity's attributes. On the
other hand, six hundred years ago, Europeans decided to keep
February 14 free to celebrate love and lovers. At the time the
.Indian argument, that every day was a celebration of love, seemed
reasonable. For high-testosterone people, the argument had
additional appeal: it gave a quasi-religious rationale to practise
what Vatsyayana preached. Over time, however, praxis took a
beating from marketing.

That brings us to the second reason for the ascendancy of St
Valentine: America. Europe's colonial cousins, blessed with
marketing savvy, perfected the art of selling Valentine's
knickknacks. Through a process of media osmosis, these have
finally permeated into distant regions like Kandivli and Karol
Bagh. There is no economic reason to be miffed with that: Indian
entrepreneurs do good business with American ideas. History will
not forget Kamadeva, who is redeemed daily in practice. However,
our swadeshi brigade must admit that they have been caught with
their pants firmly in place, in this business of
love-in-the-marketplace. Two historical problems remain, besides.
The first is the transformation of St Valentine from fourth century
Christian martyred by Claudius II Gothicus, to pneumatically
blown-up plastic heart. The other is the fact that you're reading
this three days after St Valentine came and went.

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