Some opposition politicians and sections of the Indian media have made a mountain out of a molehill! The unfortunate death of a Muslim by a mob for his alleged beef-eating has triggered the formation of an ‘intolerance’ bandwagon. Despite plenty of good work done by the NDA government, this provocative issue has been framed as the design of the government, the ruling party and its leaders! While the motive of these ‘beefists’ is very clear, my expectations for this government in the short term are also unequivocal (within the limits of the past sixty plus years of ineffective governance and corruption): Setting up necessary policies and clear direction to the uplift the poor and over all development of India with proper infrastructure in place, curbing corruption, creating entrepreneurship-friendly environment and motivating the youth to become independent and to innovate. Actual deliverables will automatically follow if these requirements are fulfilled correctly. And I feel confident that this government is right on track so far. And how about tolerance? Is communal violence new to India or suddenly up surged? According to Indian Home Ministry, there were on an average 57 communal incidents per month during the last 3 years (2011-2013) of previous UPA government’s rule. Read the following piece by Rupa Subramanya to understand the current ‘communal’ state of the country:
However, the detractors would like to keep the issue alive to serve the politics of communalism. Let’s not be shy now, let’s talk about ‘beefism’.
Ask your dog and cat-loving neighbor what kind of good-neighborly behavior would it be if the next-door neighbor slaughters dogs and cats, sells the meat, eats it, and rejoices? It is a question of common sense social sensibility, right?
And let us talk about tolerance – yes, I’m talking about cultural and social sensibility! Why should the burden of tolerance be imposed upon the non-cow-eaters? Why do they have to tolerate a person’s behavior of non-sensibility? To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” And no, this idea does not work in favor of the beef-eaters, since beef-eating is not a requirement by law (social or judicial) or religion or a nutritionist!
A surprisingly large number of Hindus eat beef too. So why are there cries of ‘intolerance’? Why does religion come into the picture? This question is for all beef eaters; it does not matter if you belong to a religious group or are an atheist.
Let us not get into the debate of whether the Vedas approve beef eating or not, the debate is of today – present and future is more important. In fact, today the majority of the Indian population do not eat beef and abhor cow-slaughter.
On the other hand, beef is projected as the ‘poor-man’s protein’ by some groups, especially the Marxist breed, which has no scientific substantiation. Actually the scientific evidence shows that beef is very unhealthy. A recent WHO report and recommendation (http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf ) very clearly states the perils of processed as well as other red meat including beef. There is plenty of information available on this subject – beef is bad for people and the planet’s health. I suggest a quick read of Brahma Chellany’s article:
And by the way, cows disseminate flatulence and you may not hear it or smell it – but it hurts the planet – cows typically expel 200 to 500 liters of methane gas (more dangerous than CO2) everyday day, especially if you feed them processed food!
But Indian ‘liberals’ will say – eating beef is a sign of progress; I say, man, eat rats or bed-bugs -the choice is yours, but take responsibility for these actions – both personally and socially.
The ‘comrades’ may have a reason to eat beef. After all, ‘religion’ is the opium of people and according to them, the Hindu ‘religion’ is root cause of all evils in India! Ask them about the difference between ‘dharma’ and ‘religion’ they will look at you as if you are from a pre-historic time!
India never had the idea of a ‘religion’. The Indian idea and ideal is dharma: principles, means and acts to sustain and progress. Religion is an Abrahamic concept – a belief system, a concept superimposed on Indian traditions. Therefore this debate is not really about ‘religion’ – it has to do more about cultural, social and environmental sustainability, sensibility and responsibility. And remember, meat-eating is not a mandatory practice in Islam or Christianity. Cow-slaughter was enforced by the invaders to humiliate the Indians and used as a weapon to convert and subjugate.
And if Indian liberals continue to believe in an obsolete colonial era and Marxist idioms, it is their choice in a democracy, but their days are numbered. Indians have been most liberal people since the dawn of our civilization – because they did not have a belief system. They always welcomed new ideas from everywhere because they were mostly seekers of truth (except for a few fringe extreme elements and aberrations, some of which occurred due to the influence of the ‘belief systems’ – including Marxism).
I always wondered what the origin and context of the English phrase ‘beef up’ was. During this ‘it is my right to eat beef’ tsunami of debate, the root cause is revealed! Beef eating, along with many other habits such as cigarette smoking and ideas such as the Vedas were the poems of the primitive tribal people of ancient India, came through colonists’ racist viewpoint. 19th century British neurologist, George Beard, a white supremacist who believed beef-eating made the British superior to all stated, “In proportion as man grows sensitive through civilization or through disease, he should…increase the quantity of animal food, which is nearly related to him in the scale of evolution.” Also, “[Indians are] little removed from the common animal stock from which they are derived. They are much nearer to the forms of life from which they feed than are the highly civilized brain-workers, and can therefore subsist on forms of life which would be most poisonous to us. Secondly, savages who feed on poor food are poor savages, and intellectually far inferior to the beef-eaters of any race.”
Further, British imperialism could be explained and justified because they were “higher,” a more evolved “nation of beef-eaters.” Therefore, they claimed: “the rice eating Hindoo and Chinese and the potato-eating Irish peasants are kept in subjection by the well-fed English.”
Another British scientist, Edwin Lankester believed: “Those races who have partaken of animal food are the most vigorous, most moral, and most intellectual of races.” Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire argued: “without meat the brain stopped functioning and civilization became impossible,” which “explained why the rural poor, who ate a vegetarian diet of maize, salt, beans and pulque, were so sluggish.” So according to this logic, the majority of Asia was brainless and vigor-less!
Similarly, Sarah Hale, the American author of “Good Housekeeper” wrote that the portion of the human family, who have the means of obtaining animal food at least once a day… hold dominion over the earth. Forty thousand of the beef-fed British govern and control ninety million of the rice-eating natives of India. This was because animal food “strengthens the reasoning power, or the brain, the organ of the mind, better than vegetable food could do.” But modern science and more than a billion vegetarians around the world is a living proof of fallacy of these old theories.
Meat may bring physical strength and vigor for people who perform hard menial work or fight in wars, but by not eating it, the question of how can a nation become deficient or inferior needs to be answered by the liberals since they still draw their intellectual fuel from the colonial ideas such as the Aryan Invasion of India, that Aurangzeb was the best ruler of India etc.
Some of you may recall Babington Macaulay’s declaration: ‘I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.’ And in Macaulay’s letter (1836) to his father: “Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully; we find it difficult to provide instruction to all. The effect of this education on Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. It is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respected classes 30 years hence. And this will be affected without our efforts to proselytize; I heartily rejoice in the prospect”. This man introduced such an education system in India so that Indians think and act as them yet hate anything Indian. Plenty of Indians are still suffering from this Macaulay syndrome!
Today some researchers are suggesting that the current rigid ‘caste system’ in India has much to do with the colonists, and perhaps making beef eating a common practice in order to instigate the Muslim community in their divide and conquer strategy. They also did so to humiliate the ‘inferior’ kala aadmi (slaves) by hurting their sentiment by killing cows! But would the ‘brown sahibs’ relent?
And imperialism makes a comeback with beef again! According to Benjamin Barber’s book Jihad Vs. McWorld (1995), McDonald’s is a symbol of not just the American way, but the soul of global capitalism. Unfortunately Indians are in love with what average health conscious Americans avoid eating: McDonalds, KFC etc.
The current declarations of a Chief Minister and some other public figures in India to announce “beef eating is my birth-right” – reminds us of an incident when the erstwhile vegetarian Japan’s fate was sealed in January of 1872. It was publicly announced that Emperor Meiji ate beef and mutton on a regular basis, breaking a centuries-old official ban on meat eating. This announcement placed the emperor at the center of the newly emerging meat-eating fashion while setting the foundation of a huge meat industry. Along with the bellies of the Japanese people, the pockets of the meat exporters like America is becoming fat every day!
Must we not say, like smoking, the choice is yours to eat beef? But you need to be held accountable, cover the cost of pleasing your taste buds. Smoking increases the likelihood of cancer for the smoker and bystanders. In many parts of the world smokers are taxed for two reasons – as a deterrent as well as the means of gaining money to treat patients suffering due to smoking related ailments. Smoking is an addiction, and even though people know it is dangerous, most cannot easily quit. In the case of beef, it is a choice. To many it is like the Duryodhana syndrome – “I know what is right and what is wrong, but I can’t stop doing wrong things!” If you still want to continue eating and promoting beef you may cover the cost. What is wrong in imposing a ‘beef tax’ to compensate for the grim effects of beef-eating – societal, health and environmental?
Morality lesson? No! If you want to hurt yourself, it is your choice, but please don’t hurt us because of your choice.
India stood and still stands by the dictum: Responsibility of your choice and action is only yours. Your health, progress, your relationship with your neighbors, co-citizens and nature depends on your actions! And if your human ethics is awakened against killing cows or your ‘religious’ Hindu neighbor feels awkward for your slaughter, sell, cooking and eating of beef – it will only be humane!
Are you on the ‘faith’ side or the ‘rational’ side? In either case, your lifestyle can be tested by beef! If you are not convinced yet, you should watch ‘Cowspiracy’ at: www.Cowspiracy.com
Some unknown inspired Americans are telling us what India should have taken leadership in. It may be a great idea if PM Modi, just like the International Yoga Day – encourages the UN to create a ‘cattle credit’ system in the lines of carbon credit for other human activities which produces greenhouse gases and make the sellers and consumers pay for it? But before that, India may consider completely stopping meet export (including buffalo) – after all it hurts the health of the consumer and the planet. Only additional task for the government will be to rehabilitate the workers in this industry.
In the coming decades, especially in India use of bulls for ploughing and cart-pulling will be nearly over. The only economic role the cows would have is to give milk. If we must drink milk and eat butter, ghee and sweets – we must take some extra responsibilities. The society needs to do much more to take care of old and unhealthy cattle after their ‘productive’ years are over, else – the world will have an excuse to kill and eat them!
Before we end, shall we have a toast with the ‘intolerance’ theorists and remind them of Holmes: “The moststringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater. .”