Artist. Poet. Writer. With each word I wish you see.... The world within & the one around me
Democracy we battle, for the sake of cattle.
A Double Edged Sword
"To be, or not to be? Wonder each cow
Slaughtered silhouettes of people remind us now
The sacrifice in vain, which we consider just
Sacrifice we must?
Men, and women, in tow
Cattle stands above, human carcass lies below?
To be, or not to be, wonders each cow?
To save cultural sensibilities, senseless murder we allow. "
- Nikhil Chopra
Well, to start with, let us throw light on the term “Food Fascism”.
Simply put, any individual, who exhibits extreme and intolerant views, regarding other's food choices, is defined as a "Food Fascist".
The emphasis lies on the term “other”, as long as people practice what they preach in their own lives, their respective views, be it moderate, or bordering on extreme, are justified.
On the contrary, when someone starts curtailing the fundamental democratic right of other individuals, based upon a set of private beliefs, which have no bearing on the concerned agitator's life, there seems to be nothing “simple”, about the concerned nomenclature.
The emotion that springs behind this term, and the resulting actions, are dangerous to the "T".
Let us examine the "deep rooted" hypocrisy, which lies at the heart of imposing a ban on the consumption of cow and buffalo meat, respectively. It has been well documented that a significant "chunk" of the Indian population consumes beef, as a means of sustaining their survival. Like all other species, cows and buffaloes have been always reared for the nutrition they provide, be it milk, cheese or the meat necessary, to sustain human life on this planet.
To be fair, they are no different in their utility as a species, when compared to the chickens we consume, be it the eggs they provide, or the lean meat we devour for our “protein fix”, or even other sources of nutrition necessary for our survival, be it fish and goats. Goat milk is very popular as a means to derive energy; it is surprising we still justify cooking lamb stews, and devour mutton chops, why have we put our beloved cow on a pedestal?
The reason goes beyond cultural food sensibilities, or even an adoption of a “biased vegetarian, or non vegetarian outlook” to life. There lies a dangerous political undertone to this phenomenon, and its consequences are sinister, we willingly murder anyone found in possession of cow meat, yet deem fit to slay all other species, for our necessary survival on this planet.
India’s ban on cow slaughter is not merely "Food Fascism". It is a debilitating mix of right wing, and left wing political ideals, which are thrust upon the vibrant colors of democracy, along with communal undertones taking place, to stir up “vote bank” politics.
The resulting scenario poses a serious threat to upholding the values of a secular nation, devoted towards securing its place as the “world’s largest democracy”.
We, as citizens, need to appreciate the value of freedom our constitution has bestowed upon us, and a democracy can only function when warring political, religious and cultural factions respectively, learn to peacefully co exist in a harmonious environment, in order to adopt a culture where we value “human life” first and foremost, which we have failed to adopt.
We are so busy killing our own brothers, and sisters, as people with a "conscience", we need to reflect, and rectify the gross injustices being carried out in the name of promoting one animal sacred, and demeaning the rest as “consumable entities”.
The horror lies upon hearing news of our fellow citizens being reserved to the gallows, to be disposed off, by some goons, who do not practice what they preach, yet deem themselves fit, to be the custodians of the “Hindu" way of life.
It is a sham, of the highest order.
It has been reported that the chief of the National Volunteers Organization, which falls under the jurisdiction of the right wing party, the "Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh" ( RSS ), has recently called for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. We all know the “divide and rule” convictions behind the “Hindutva” way of life, which RSS swears by firmly, to "rule the roost", no matter how dictatorial, and deluded, their approach is to the concept of democracy, and no matter how far flung they are from the existential realities of survival, and economics, we should at least give them points for being honest about their far right beliefs.
What is more tragic, is the news of a senior judge echoing similar sentiments, and consequently advocating the declaration of this "baffled" bovine species as our national animal, uplifting the already uplifted status, this species enjoys across the subcontinent. The concerned judge, declares all of cattle to be sacred, and sacrosanct.
It is shocking, for a senior judge to even make such horrific statements, "naive" would be too forgiving a term, to describe the concerned gentleman's intention, who also happens to be practicing in the highest courts of the law, upholding the values of secularism, such statements pose a serious threat, to the very existence of the fabric of democracy, constantly weakened by blows from the lawmakers themselves, who lay claim to upholding the value of the constitution.
Let us entertain such thoughts for the sake of argument, and still keep our fingers crossed.
Hypothetically speaking, could these esteemed gentlemen share their thoughts on the following questions posed by the nature of reality itself? A fact which has been long overlooked conveniently in the name of “quest for power”, let us not be foolish, to overlook the following questions presented, before such outrageous bans are imposed, on the rest of us unsuspecting “common folk”, by the few chosen "self styled heroes" of this nation, occupying significant posts of power.
What happens to the $4bn revenue earned in annual beef exports? Along with the employment opportunities being offered to the tune of a million jobs, engaging the workforce of this country towards securing a better means of life?
Who pays for their upkeep? Certainly not the cattle in “question”.
Why is the "Bharatiya Janta Party" (BJP), immune to the resounding fact, that India boasts of a set of diverse food practices,duly adopted by an equally diverse set of people, inhabiting this land since time immemorial?
We are all merely prescribing to parameters of religion, cast, and class, respectively, which were set in this society long ago, and we are “creatures of habit”, so to speak. We have been conditioned to follow these norms, since the start of civilization itself.
Why is a party which rose to prominence, and claims to be a people’s party, not willing to understand, that traditions and cultures have defined our food choices, since the conception of "Anthropology" and documentation of history itself?
We learn from our history, apparently, history is taught in schools, so young citizens can pave the way for the future.
What is taking the majority party this long to understand this fact? One wonders aloud, as people suffer in silence.
Statistics never lie; they are devoid of personal passions.Would someone explain why the consumption of beef has risen to 14% in urban cities, and an astounding 35% in villages, respectively?
Such facts are regularly reported by non profit data think tanks, such as India spend, after analyzing government records.
It is surprising, when the very same government turns a "blind eye", to their own vast reservoirs of data, which are maintained on the account of the taxes paid by simple "awestruck" civilians, absolutely 'dumbed down" by the very party they help elect to power.
These parties prove that raging battles of democracy, can be won, simply through inflammatory speeches, constantly played to the gallery through a slew of theatrics, to be shouted out loud, enthralling and insulting our intelligence as voters, courtesy the twin pillars of "hyperbole and rhetoric".
How removed are policy makers from the facts which lie around in abundance? Or should we turn a deaf ear, time and again, to our very own surrounding environment?
Would politicians and policy makers stop living in a bubble? Or will it take a few more innocent lives being lost, in order to send that long overdue “wake up” call?
What about the media?
Journalists need to be objective while reporting, if they consider it an honorable profession, they do not need to dress themselves up as “nationalists”, completely defy logic in their reportage, and resort to regaling their audience, with chest thumping shouts, and “pop corn” entertainment, nowadays being served on a regular rotating platter on news channels, all provided in the name of “informing” the citizens.
These "modern marvels" of the media, crowning themselves as the "voice of the nation", aptly defining themselves as heroic "opinion shakers" , are treading a dangerously nihilistic path, merely to serve their own economic, and political interests respectively.
They are too busy "hallucinating on hashtags" on their expensive twitter handles, duly followed by the consenting, and equally confused public, at large. Whatever happened to maintaining their journalistic integrity? They are too busy shouting, or rather, laughing their way to the banks.
News channels, backed by affluent media houses, possess a plethora of resources, and the privilege to reach a large audience. They need to understand accountability, which comes with their "new found fame".
They should "search" their own conscience, well aware of the influence they wield upon their audience, and simply stick to reporting “fact over fiction”, rather than pontificate, carelessly passing dangerous judgments along the way, simply in the name of “opining”.
Narratives will not nurture the expression "unity in diversity", a past phenomenon our democracy took pride in. Narratives will simply destroy the significance, of the very secular national anthem we sing with solemn pride.
Whatever happened to facts staring right back at us? The "Father of the Nation", Mahatma Gandhi, boldly declared the statement, “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.” He never encouraged the citizens to “See no facts. Hear no facts. Speak no facts”,a diatribe our political counterparts have perfected, after the legacy he left behind.
Beef is the choice of meat in North eastern states, such as Nagaland & Meghalaya respectively. Down south, Kerala, aptly referred to as "God's Own Country", prides itself for creating a culinary legend called “Beef Fry”, enjoyed by Muslims, Hindus, and Christians respectively, in a state where the Hindu population lies at a majority 55 percent of the total population residing.
Beef is also the preferred food choice across various other parts of this country.
The National Sample Survey (NSS) report, characterizes 42 percent Indians as "vegetarians", and a thumping 71 percent as "non vegetarian", respectively.
Let us keep our fingers crossed, before someone declares “cauliflower", and "potatoes” respectively, as "divine" and sacred vegetables, meant to be worshiped, and allows us meek vegetarians our daily dose of lentils and bread, hopefully to keep us "alive and "kicking", not from the misery of hunger, but from forces of hate governing this society.
The Indian leather industry accounts for an estimated 12.9 percent share of the global leather production, constituting of hides and skins respectively, as reported by Council for Leather Exports (CLE), an autonomous non-profit organisation.
The country boasts of holding the second place, for footwear and leather garment production, consequently targeting 9 percent of the world’s cumulative footwear production. Cumulative leather goods export revenues stood at a staggering $US 4.72 billion, during the months of April 2016 to January 2017 alone.
One wonders what led to the change of heart as far as imposing a ban went? Why was this fact not accounted for by the BJP, and RSS respectively? Besides a few other parties concerned about the state of cattle in this country.
Why have the self styled patrons of “Hindutva” failed to account for this consumption trend? One will find many of the same politicians dressed in expensive leather, why are they crying foul otherwise? While sitting in their swanky leather bound sofas and discussing the plight of cows.
Not only are we engaged in extensive leather production, take a weekend walk to your favorite local shopping mall, and stare at disbelief, at the fact, that we also happen to be among the largest importers of leather products, meant for consumption, as far as satiating our "hip" modern desires for the “upper middle class luxury life” .
"Yet we bloody our hands with murder when a weaker section of the society needs to feed its family of four?"
It is tragic, the hypocrisy our power drunk politicians seem to be intoxicated on, while imposing senseless bans, and instigating communal riots in the process.
Absolutely shameful that we as a society can’t safeguard the simplest values, such as right to food, yet we justify the "dollar denominated" fashion and commercial pursuits, of those few privileged sections of society, in the same breath.
All in the name of revenue, as they say, “where money talks, the mind takes a walk.”
Who makes these demarcations? Should we not be thankful that "Mother Earth" herself has given us all a plethora of wide ranging options in order to sustain life?
No, it is not enough, to satisfy our illogical needs to feel powerful, and ingratiate our insipid egos, we like bickering over the most inane issues, in the name of national sentiment.
The cow has not insulted our intelligence as a species, only we are to blame for such misfortune.
It is a sad state of affairs, when we slaughter each other, and justify it, time and again, in the name of demarcating one set of species as "divine".
What about those young Muslim, Dalit or Christian citizens respectively? They are found murdered in their homes, courtesy what lies on their dinner plate.
Sometimes mere rumors are alone enough to defile, and deform the reality we live in. We fail to see the divine in those butchered people, along with several other cases reported, which grace our news-feed day and night.
Who protects their right to live? Certainly not the cow in question, nor the politicians "hallucinating over Hindu ideals".
We as a species, once again prove why humans lie on top of the food chain, in the animal kingdom. We find nothing wrong with taking away another human life, and we excuse such mortifying barbaric sins we commit, merely in the name of unrealistic and borderline "sociopath" beliefs, we merrily define as being “Indian”.
We forget even hyenas show loyalty to their own brood, and hunt in packs, till a certain time, before being left out in the jungle, to fend for themselves. A cub shows loyalty to the lioness, before it is left free in the dangerous jungle.
We are a species able to “think and discern”, unlike other animals which are left to follow the banal laws of survival on this planet. We as a "thinking and feeling" species, show no remorse, before mercilessly bloodying a set of pleading defenseless eyes.
We show no mercy to our own human “kin”, and the tragedy lies in that inherent facet of human nature, we care for nobody beyond our own selfish reasons to “live and never let live”.
This polarizing mentality we nurture, in order to gain from the "diarrhea" of divisive politics, which have plagued this nation, serves as a slap to all the accomplishments we applaud and acknowledge, celebrating this "supreme human race".
Since the conception of the “Big Bang”, and the universe itself, we have come a long way from the expression “Planet of the Apes’. We have evolved with a ferocious thirst for knowledge, and growth as a species, be it modern marvels of technology, or the beauty of science, and objectivity.
Yet we show not even a shred of compassion, before bullying others into submission, and we don’t even flinch, before flexing "muscles", and forcing "mayhem", upon innocent unsuspecting families,who were simply learning to "fend off" nature itself, for their sustenance, which is their basic birthright.
Who are we to determine their right to live, or eat?
How dare we determine who is to die, at our own amoral hands?
Charity starts at home, we forget, not at the hands of bullies, who have no sensitivity, and sensibilities in place, to protect the very constitution our forefathers gave up their lives to defend. We throw such good fortune away, in the "name" of an animal. It is tragic.
“”Food Fascism” is simply not comprehensive enough a definition, to throw light on the injustices we carry. Simply the term “Fascism” is sufficient, and self explanatory, in describing a murky political phenomenon, which has long been gaining momentum, behind the cloak of running a democracy, based upon the ideals of "Hindutva".
In conclusion, to trample over unsuspecting, and meek voices, for mere food choices, is a crime we commit time and again, and the poor cow is left baffled at the dynamics in play, which seldom appreciate the intrinsic basic laws of life, "god given" values of common sense, dignity of life, and compassion respectively.
The cow is not at fault, we are, and nothing takes away the burden of that truth, from our long lost conscience as a species, who consider themselves privileged, educated, and murderously "ruthless" enough, to serve mankind a set of "cold blooded" coffins, for convenient matters of political patronage, justified in the name of preserving the "greater good".
- “Leather Industry In India”
- “ Cattle slaughter ban ripples through leather industry in India”
- Is India’s ban on cattle slaughter “food fascism”?
- “The Indian state that is obsessed with beef fry”
- “Why beef ban in Indian state undermines secularism”
- “Why the humble cow is India’s most polarizing animal”
- “What Mahatma Gandhi said to those who wanted beef banned in India”
- “Beef and Bloodshed: India’s sacred treatment of cows is massively hypocritical”
© 2017 Nikhil Chopra