When Affection Needs Hand-Holding
Much is being made of public hand-holding — or lack of it — these days in the international area. The Obamas do it all the time, the Clintons very rarely, and as for the Trumps, the new US President appeared to be more at ease holding the British prime minister’s manicured hand than his own soigné spouse’s. You have got to hand it to the pop psychologists, though, who have weighed in on this phenomenon by decreeing that supposedly demure hand-holding now packs a more powerful punch than a bear hug, and certainly more than an air-kissed mwah when it comes to communicating affection. Anything more touchy-feely — especially some of the more bawdy kinesics (in)famously contemplated by pre-presidential Trump — is a definite no-no. Indian politicians, however, remain remarkably circumspect when it comes to public display of affection even as open demonstrations of ardour are increasingly common not only in popular cinema and the celebrity circuit but also among ordinary people. While the older generation of netas may be chary of such display when it comes to their spouses, it is curious that even the younger lot — married or not — still hew to traditional Indian norms of deportment. Where India diverges from the western mores, of course, is that it imposes no cultural bar on people of the same sex holding hands.