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I Am A Jain And I Find The Meat Ban In Mumbai “Ludicrous”

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By Maithili Parikh:

Mumbai is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city in India, popular amongst tourists, home to numerous financial bigwigs, known for a diversity that no other Indian city can boast of, and not to mention one of the ‘second homes’ of Prime Minister Modi. On September 8, The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, driven by the Bhartiya Janata Party, undermined this diversity considerably, shocking its residents with a ban on sale and slaughter of meat for 4 days during the week long Jain fast, Paryushan. People may question my verbal onslaught (not meat slaughter) as uncanny considering I am a Jain, who quite religiously follows Paryushan every year. But before the attacks on my faith begin, it would only be logical to note that non-Jains eating meat would in no way bother my ability to practice my religion. Hence please do not dismiss this as a rant on liberty, instead think of it as an insider’s perspective, from a young adult, who sincerely believed Modi’s dreamy promises, when she voted for the first time, and genuinely felt her vote would count and liberalise India from all regressive thinking, synonymous with incumbency.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Indian Constitution recognizes minority religions and the freedom to practice any religion, respecting one and all religions, but it also contains in spirit and letter, the freedom of life and liberty which includes our choice in what we eat. It would be ludicrous to suggest that an Indian citizen, having to part with their decision making power regarding the food they eat, purely because one community observes a fast, is not violating their fundamental rights. The meat ban, imposed months after the controversial beef ban, has ignited resentment in the public at large, and in my opinion extremist decisions of this sort create divisions between the people of the country. The decision to ban meat by BMC was effected just a few days after the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation’s meaty (or in this case veggie) decision to ban the sale of meat for 8 days in the city. The BMC’s ban was largely influenced by the Bhartiya Janata Party’s demand to ban the sale of meat and functioning of slaughterhouses during the entire period of Paryushan after senior BJP Legislators met the BMC Chief Ajoy Mehta in this regard. Deciding what food to consume is purely a personal decision and no vote bank politics can undermine this decision of every free citizen. What next? Will all Mumbaikars be expected to fast during Ramzan and eat only fruits during fasts followed by Hindus?

Respecting religions is a revered concept and I am delighted that the Government has decided to rever this holy time for Jains like myself, but there is something awfully dangerous about a Government that wants to dictate the food you consume. Wait, am I going to be sent to Tihar, for sedition, for criticizing this decision? I hear prisons are not so hospitable to Jains following Paryushan.

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  1. Vikramaditya

    I agree this is ludicrous. I think it is more ludicrous that the PM is silent on this and so many other issues which each time make his government seem intolerant and dictatorial. Any disagreement is culled, and people are charged with sedition. I see danger for our democracy and unless large, collective voices are raised, we will soon be in a police state. I would have hoped there would be large scale protest against this in Mumbai.

  2. Vir Narain

    Ms Jain claims to be a firm adherent of her religion, but shows total lack of understanding as far it’s basic tenets are concerned. Blind faith, and no understanding. There is a powerful MORAL IMPULSE behind the Jain philosophy of avoiding the killing of animals. If we cannot follow it, we should at least respect it. It must be admitted that the temporary ban is perhaps not in accordance with the Constitution, and the requirements of secularism. If you deploy quibbles of this kind, you should be able to show that you have used them in many other cases: such as the Haj subsidy, and the States’ sponsoring of pilgrimages.

    1. Jai

      Well I am a Jain too. And Jainism asks us to do a lot of things, but importantly it asks us to do it ourselves, while inspiring and asking others to do the same. But we cannot force others to do it. That is against the core principles.

  3. Sharmil Shah

    It’s a ban on sale and not consumption. Please get your facts right.

    And please practice religious tolerance and respect every community’s right to influence the society at large. Ahimsa is a big tenet of Jainism. It’s a week where one’s thoughts, actions and deeds need to be pure and non-violent.

    The Government is a representation of the people and in a metropolitan society, it has to take as many voices in to account as possible. During Ganesh Chaturti when people throng the streets and the Govt shut roads, we accept it in respect to larger group’s beliefs. As do we with the public announcements of the Islamic call to prayer.

    If you have lived with flatmates with various beliefs, or imagine in this case, then I don’t believe one flatmate’s request to keep meat out of the communal refrigerator for a week would be a big deal. The only difference here is that the flatmates have elected a decision-maker who has decided to ensure the one flatmate’s request is met. Why is the decision-maker wrong? The whole point of electing that decision-maker in the first place was that he can make such judicious calls and protect the various differing interests of all the flatmates that stay together.

    All these issues can be solved by banning religion. All these issues stem from antiquated ways of life combined with unreasonable fear of man-made deities/concepts passed on over generations. The whole concept that the week of Paryushan is about pure thoughts, deeds and action, and that external influences of slaughterhouse killings will corrupt your mind can’t be argued with logic. Eventually I believe evolution will prevail. Till that happens, as a member of such a largely ignorant society, which I’ve chosen to live amongst (not forced), I have to accept their ways and accommodate.

  4. Ramesh

    In case of any benefit given to other communities, such decisions are welcomed heartedly. So why not in the case of Jain community. No one is gonna die if they don’t consume meat for a few days. It is better to respect the other communities as well. Freedom of life and liberty doesn’t mean you do nor respect other communities. So it is better to stop this HUE and CRY over such matters, and respect all religions.

  5. Vinay Shah

    During Paryusan all our good karmas we get make more good karmas then rest of days, we should give ‘Jiv Daya’ b’coz its jivas and they are one of us.
    Jai Mahavir.
    Michhami Dukkadam.

  6. Hardik

    I am also Jain. I think ban is not appropriate thing. By imposing ban we are forcing others to do what we want Which is far away from what religion teaches. Have any tirthankars ever imposed their teaching/knowledge on any living beings? This could have been achieved by appealing to other communities and with mutual cooperation.
    And even if selling/slaughtering is not getting stopped it should not affect us as practicing the religion is solely personal matter – not the result of others action and deeds. Of course I am not favoring the killing but the way taken to stop is not going to do good rather it can cause harm.
    By imposing ban, general society gets message that jains are misusing their influences. It spreads attitude of enmity and grudges against entire community. I don’t think there is anything worthwhile is achieved here.

  7. Sunil

    Over enthusiastic youth please get facts straight. The ban is in place since 1994 imposed by then Congress government. this time it has been extended to four days. There is also talks of ban of alocohol during Ramzaan in Mira-Bhayandar. Ban is on sale of meat of chicken and mutton; not on fish. I see not Mira-Bhayandar residents not complaining but completely outsider. I hope you had shared similar outrage over when people went ga ga over animal sacrifice in Nepal and Dog meat festival in China. By the way, do you know which beef is banned and who supported it? You will be surprised if you care to investigate.

  8. Hardik

    I am a Mumbaite. i don’t support in forcing people to
    not eat due to my beliefs, having said this. If people think that banning meat is hypocrisy?

    1. What is forcing people to marry on valentines day ? Not allowing them to meet their loved ones peacefully ?

    2.What is forcing BANDH! on traders and shopkeepers who don’t believe in your Philosophy?

    3. Why beat the hell out of people who try to practice freedom of speech which might go against y our beliefs and philosophies ?

    4. During other festivals why so much chaos, sound pollution , traffic jams (which could cost
    someone their life) even though he/she doesn’t believe in this ?

    5. Why political parties claim Mumbai as their own ? even though its a cosmopolitan city .

    6. MEAT BAN IS ON SALE AND NOT ON CONSUMPTION, just like smoking is banned in
    public places.

    MIRROR MIRROR!

  9. irfan

    I Appreciate and Applaud the Miss Maithili Parikh for the Audacious attempt to Go Against the Faith and Speak out Loud and clear as Nationalist, Very true to on her ideas and Religious Beliefs, As a True Nationalist and Citizen of India the Journalism Done is of the Highest Quality, I Agree and would Also like to Add that, This is Hypocrisy that Non Meat Eaters are small in Numbers, Its a world wide Fact That Non Vegetarian are more in Numbers, why Should this attempt by powerful people to Hegemonies the society by the own beliefs, The constitution Gives Every right to its citizen then why this HEGEMONY / DICTATORSHIP, IF you are so Religious and Human, why don’t you stop those Business of Exporting All kind of Meat, why dont you shut down your factories and Tanneries, why don’t you BAN ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, BETTING, BLACK MARKETING, FINANCIAL FRAUD, BYGONE TRADITION’S, FORCEFUL RELIGIOUS FOLLOWINGS, ARMS AND AMMUNITION, FLUSH INDUSTRY, These are More Harmful to society than Banning Meat, Rightly said People call illeterate Muslims as Vote Banks, I think the Intellectual Indian is More a vote Bank in the name of Religion. I appreciate the Brave Effort and See You in Tihar.

  10. ojas

    we value human rights and give them priority above all while taking any decision. Why animals do not have any right? just because they can't speak? At least we should give them right to live their lives. Who gave us right to kill them? If killing a human being is considered as biggest crime and criminal is sentenced to death, why killing to innocent animal is not a crime?

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