Vantage point

Saturday, March 08, 2003


All those who thought that a temple or a mosque in some remote corner of the country being made a political issue is immature need to sit down and prepare themselves for a shock. Now elections are going to be fought on the issue of "cow slaughter"!!!!!!

How ironic that while the BJP fights nail and tooth to have Savarkar's portrait displayed in the Parliament hall, they should choose to ignore his teachings. It is not his thoughts they care about, it is just his symbolic value, because of his opposition to Gandhi and Nehru. Savarkar had clearly stated that a cow is an animal. Elevating a quadruped to some divine status out of blind belief is not the sign of a thinking people. Hinduism, unlike some other religions, has thankfully been an evolving faith. Newer ideas have been incorporated into it and old ideas have been discarded. We do not live by one book or some fixed ideas like the Abrahamic faiths, and there is always room for logical arguments and well reasoned changes. Sati is extinct, as are all the restrictions on eating. Untouchability survives only in the most backward areas of the country, and though the caste problem is far from over, it is significantly down as compared to even fifty years ago.

In all this evolution, I wonder why the "Holy Cow" issue was left behind. And now instead of adopting Savarkar's pragmatic attitude on it, the BJP and the VHP (Virulent Hatred Propagation????) want to reach new depths of regressive thought. This unnecessary glorification of an animal causes deplorable incidents like the Jhajjar lynching.

I am sure none of the Hindus think that such non-issues are more important than what really matters. The economy, corruption, governance, simple things like water and electricity....... are all left aside. Elections are fought for 0.4 acres of land in Ayodhya, and now will be fought on cow slaughter.

And we are to blame. Our people are ready to react to the slightest of provocation.

This is what the politician's handbook must read like -

Chapter 4. How to incite communal violence

The people of India are very gullible in these regards and getting them to riot amongst each other is very easy.
It is all about market segmentation. Decide your target segment and then take appropriate action.

First you need to decide which community you want to go on a rampage. If you want a Muslim mohalla to go crazy, kill a pig and throw it near a mosque. The bayonets will come out at once. If it is a Hindu dominated area you want to unsheath their arms, cut a cow/bull and throw it near a temple. If you are interested in some caste violence, you can always get a makeshift garland of shoes made and put it around the neck of an Ambedkar statue.

Of course, all these steps would require some investments. It is easier to just spread rumours about those things happening, and you will see bloodbaths happening in your target segment.

Where do I stand on cow slaughter? I am neither for aggressively implementing it, nor am I for vehemently opposing it.

However I must say one thing. In a country where there are separate civil codes according to your religion, opposing just a ban on cow slaughter smacks of what is called pseudo-secularism. If one were to say, implement the Uniform Civil Code and do not ban cow slaughter, then it seems like that person is truly a secular one. But the same people who ridicule cow slaughter ban are silent on the issue of the Shabano judgement. That seems like an appeasement tactic to me.

It is interesting to note how the political parties stand on the issue.

The BJP, obviously is for it, so is the BSP. The Congress, as usual, muddled about what stand to take, has not committed itself, but by and large, Congressmen are for it. The party which is considered the champion of the Muslims in India - Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party is also in support of a ban on cow slaughter, a fact which might not be known to many.

The only opposition comes from the stupid Communists whose job is to oppose everything blindly. Why am I not surprised?

For me, the issue is not whether cows should be banned or not, but whether so much importance should be given to this issue. Firstly, there is already a ban of sorts in almost all states. Maharashtra, the state where I come from, does not allow cow slaughter. So the beef that I eat occasionally, comes from either bulls or buffaloes. I don't think anyone would be stupid enough to kill a milch cow anyway. Older cows are slaughtered for meat in Kerala, Bengal and the North Eastern states.

This system is the best, where you leave the decision to the states. We are a vastly diverse country and beliefs vary from place to place. In some N-E states for example, there are not many Hindus and even if there are, they don't mind eating beef. So why impose our belief on their dietary habits? Anyway, one of the things that irk me about our system is that the Centre holds too much power. So leave this decision to individual states.

In conclusion to all those who will say "The Cow is our Mother" in response to what I have written, I say "Speak for yourself. My mother is a thinking woman who walks to two feet and has never caused traffic jams."

I sooooo think the Hindu Mahasabha should have survived instead of the RSS, to serve as the so called "voice" of Hindus.