Seventy years of independence from British rule! In the seven decades gone by India has achieved much to earn its place in the Sun. From the bullock-cart age to the Computer age to the age of internet, twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and what have you, free India has come a long way. From barefoot teachers to ‘each one teach one’ campaigns the masses have made great headway in terms of literacy.
As for all-round development, we’ve made great strides with individuals and groups of every hue from the point of view of language, culture and religion, making an immeasurable contribution to the strengthening of the body politic. And yet, as we commence our seventy-first year of independence the pendulum has suddenly swung to the other extreme with the insignificant animal called the ‘cow’ unwittingly, even unwillingly so to say, taking centre-stage for no valid reason whatsoever, the peace of co-existence turned into a myth overnight. Shobha De's piece in the Times of India [23 July 2017] that sought to plead 'No panga in my name please' is of a piece with the kind of situation that has developed besides serving as an eye-opener of sorts to the powers-that-be apart from the fact that it sure made both interesting and amusing reading! In fact the discerning reader cannot help but want to ask the PM and his self-styled gau-rakshaks as to whether they are aware that cows do exist beyond the boundaries of the Indian sub-continent, some of impeccable breed putting the Indian cow in the shade!
Analytically, considering that the cow is as much present in Western countries as it is in India, is it only the cow in India that is sacred to the Hindus? What about the cows in other countries, like say in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh? In other parts of Asia, and in countries on other continents of the world? Aren't they sacred, too? After all, a cow is a cow is a cow!
So, what has our globe-trotting PM done about the killing of those innocent, holy cows? Au contraire, he strangely seems to have no qualms about being hosted by and dealing with cow eaters abroad. Shouldn't he be seizing such God-sent opportunities to impress upon his hosts on the international stage that slaughtering the holy cow, be it for the hosts' family meal or for a state banquet for a guest, amounts to inhumanness to 'gau-maaji' and that they must forthwith put a stop to such a practice? If that is not done—it obviously can’t be done!—one does not need court orders to realize that the cow related fracas taking place across the sub-continent below his very nose has no justification whatsoever. Obviously, lynching a person just because he either carts a cow and its mate, the bull, or slaughters it for beef, is senseless, even as the new trend poses a challenge to those in authority to prove unequivocally that they mean business when declaring unabashedly that taking the law in one’s own hands in relation to cow protection will no more be tolerated but dealt with very firmly. Is the government willing to walk the talk?
What does the cow have to say?
As a matter of fact, Mr Modi’s uncalled-for silence on the issue on his foreign jaunts amounts to grave injustice to the holy cow at home. If a cow could speak, it’d have by now denounced what is going on in her name, especially considering that she is considered a ‘mother’ (Whose, one might make bold to ask!). Strangely and sadly, in the forward looking, progressive computer age, we have suddenly started regressing rapidly into the bullock-cart age with our anti-human thinking in relation to setting up the bovine species as some sort of super-gods/goddesses, the likes of whom are now being provided with concrete shelter at public expense as though stables have become sacrosanct to the point of government toying with the idea of declaring the cow as a national animal. Gosh! Whatever happened to the Bengal Tiger, one wonders!
Food, a matter of personal choice
Now who hasn’t heard of the idiom “One man’s food is another man’s poison”? Well in India we could say one man’s holy cow is another man’s protein! And Protein being my birthright I shall have it! For Christians the significance of the numerous birds and animals lies in the fact that the Bible teaches that all things were made by God for the good of man, and that perforce includes eating the food of one’s individual choice, be it pork or chicken, mutton or quail, not forgetting beef!
India being the land of many religions, banning a particular meat is tantamount to banning the consumption of food per se. This obviously is unacceptable, considering that food is one’s inalienable birthright and that for certain fringe groups like the dalits beef is a staple diet. How then can a government, of whatever persuasion, be it in any state or at the Centre, discriminate between those who worship the cow and those who eat its flesh?
When! O when will we be willing to give the cow the freedom due to decide for itself whether to be enshrined in a temple and worshipped, or housed in a gaushallah and milked dry, or perhaps feted and fatted in the Presidential palace or to simply allow itself to be sacrificed for the good of its human protector?
Mooo! Jai Hind!!(Published on 07th August 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 32)