'It could not last, the Devil howling Ho!'. By today, some ministers were furiously back pedalling, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Veerappan Moily both calling for building a consensus, another word for infinite procrastination. Meanwhile, a cleric from the Deoband Islamic seminary has denounced the move to repeal the act (claiming it to be against the Sharia), and it's only a matter of time before some Shankaracharya from some Math, or some archbishop from a major city cathedral also add their voices to the obscurantist clamour. There is even talk of religious groups getting together to oppose this movement. It's almost comforting to see how predictably, religions provide a strong bulwark against change, and the perpetuation of the old order. The same groups, whose extremist elements often go round killing each other, are now willing to get together to oppose any hint of progressive action. And our weak-kneed politicians are only too happy to allow the status quo to continue.
One misses the presence of a person of the stature of Jawaharlal Nehru. Pandit Nehru was a well know waffler in many matters but against virulent opposition from his own MPs and the President of the country, Nehru literally barelled through the Hindu Code Bill which included in its ambit the Hindu Marriage Act (1955), Hindu Succession Act (1956), Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956), and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956). (Alas, he failed to do anything similar for other religions, being overly sensitive to the fact that he had to be particularly careful with minority groups, and with perhaps some justification).
One cannot guess how Nehru would have reacted to the present case, being a product of the early part of the 20th century, but his descendants, who are in power and who never fail to remind us of the grand legacy of the Gandhi-Nehru family, would do well to take a leaf out of their most distinguished forbear in cleaning our legal system of some of the most retrograde remnants of the Raj.
Correction: Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code does not mention homosexuality explicitly - it considers "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" whatever that might be, a criminal act. Perhaps it's the vagueness of this statement which has prevented over enthusiastic law enforcement officials from harassing gay and lesbian people. But the very wording of this Section is an absurdity in this day and age.