By Kunal Bhaskar:
I understand the issue of the beef ban is entirely based on a political agenda which is being played on the name Hindutva. And it has been there since Independence (as a technique crucially identifiable to a right-wing rule), but without doubt lately the issue has acquired central attraction. What amazes me most is the interest of young people like me and our approach towards the issue, especially the ones who follow and believe in Hinduism, which somehow lacks rational comprehension. I believe anyone will agree to the fact thatbeef has been a source of food and nutrition since centuries, not only for Muslims (if we don’t consider Hindus in the list at all) but also for other religions and various communities in different parts of India. For example in Kerala, where you can find beef as the most prominent item on any restaurant’s menu. And being an Indian, we all cherish the pride of being the world’s largest democracy with the most vivid diversity when it comes to food, language, clothing, etc.
Now, if I ask a question which I understand is vital to understand the issue of the beef ban, ‘Is beef ban at all important for a shining India?’ My response to the question is, ‘it is not important at all, rather it is fatal to India’s prosperity.’ I strongly believe the issue (which is completely based on phony religious beliefs) is being used as a tool to divert the attention of common people from other important issues critical for their as well as India’s development and prosperity, at the same time generating being a well-thought-out, strategic, divide and rule policy (to attract Hindus) based on religion, by the present government and its allies.
My comprehension is not based on intellectual façade, neither aims to generate publicity, perhaps it’s an attempt to ask every one of us few questions which is very crucial to understand what sort of developed India we all wish for. An India divided for the sake of religion or a united India where everyone lives in peace and harmony? This question may look familiar and simple, but the answer to it is far to be realized and of course not as simple as it appears in the question. India, with her vast and most diverse demography has always been an equipped opportunity for political parties to play their divide and rule card, and to some extent, they have succeeded in their attempts. But I still don’t see it as their success, but certainly consider it to be a failure for the people (who participated in any possible way) and for this nation.
I have been brought up in a Hindu farmers’ family, and thus was exposed to such discussions since I was a child. Over the years, I observed that importance of cows has deteriorated even among farmers with the change in the livelihood options. The other reasons include decreasing grazing land capacity in the villages (due to rapidly increasing population) and deteriorating importance of farming as a source of livelihood which is evident by the increasing number of farmer suicides. Now another question which occurs to me is, ‘how do we perceive the importance of cows when their natural habitat (village with agriculture as a main source of living) and caretakers itself are in danger?” And not much is being done to sustain the environment of cows, which is far more important than merely using them for religion-based politics. I make this statement based on my observation while traveling to most hinterlands spread across various states including Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, etc. in recent 4-5 years.
The entire idea of writing this piece is to bring the attention of online readers towards the consequence of such irrational political stunts (if I restrain calling it a policy/strategy) played often for the sake of a vote bank, which has very adversely rooted itself in the long-term impact on the nation, and is nowhere less fatal than an atom bomb. Let us not forget quite a similar strategy used by the British to divide us (leaving India in that state in 1947) however we as a nation are still paying its due even after 65 years. Then we had an advantage of blaming it on the British, but I am afraid to ask, who can be blamed for what is happening today?