#Beef eating up democracy? 

That week my fridge was empty but my television was filled with beef.

Arnab, as always, was shouting and not letting anyone speak. He went on repeating: BJP MLAs have thrashed an independent legislator inside J&K assembly building for organising a beef party. 

Ravish was subtle and melodic like a poet. Anyway, he told me that the police in Dadri case, where a mob had lynched a man named Akhlaq for allegedly storing and consuming beef, have reported that the meat stored in his house was not beef but mutton.  

I tried to run away from these two men. I switched to meeting a friend but again, everyone was talking about beef. Alas the day was over. However, when I woke up the next day, the morning newspaper started playing the Knock Knock game with me. 

Newspaper: Say, Knock…Knock…Knock….Knock

Me: Knock…Knock… 

Newspaper: Ask who has now turned non-vegetarian

Me: Who?

Newspaper: Cow. Today, she tried to eat two more men in Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh).

If we are to conclude from these two major incidents, another one where a Kashmiri truck cleaner Zahid was killed over beef rumours and several other reported and unreported ones that wore communal colour, we can safely say that in the current times, Ram and Masjid are not the only two sides of the religion card to fight and die for in this already messed up country.

We, 121 crore Indians, already divided by millions of reasons, certainly needed more things to screw our happiness. In India, we rarely get what we want from our government but this time the government is doing its bit to help us fulfill our ambitions. See acche din. Welcome to the era of bans and the BAAP of all bans is BEEF BAN. 

Now please don’t start shouting and accusing this government of being irresponsible, insensitive, and undemocratic. Enough of halla gulla has already been done, Behan- Biwi too has happened – I did not do it, Union Minister Giriraj Singh jee did it. Shaitan and Kans too have made a trip to Bihar- again our PM Modi ji and Baba Ram Dev ji brought them on earth. We are also done hearing Haryana CM Manohar Lal Thakkkar’s brilliant solution on how Muslims can easily continue to live in their own country. Having shown complete faith in his Hindu brothers, he simply goes on to suggest the Musalmans to stop eating beef.  

Let’s be silent as our prime minister chooses to be whenever he is asked to comment on attacks on minorities and let’s talk peacefully for our government has taken up responsibility for the “difficult task” of dealing with Pakistan amid frequent firings at LOC.   

Let us open the can of worms.

This time it wasn’t they who started it. It was somebody else. But yes, this time they are making sure that they milk the cow properly, both in the states where they are in power and where they are about to contest elections. 

Dadri, Mainpuri and J&K incidents, we already talked about, are like warming up for the UP assembly polls bound to take place in 2017 and their ripple effect has been seen in Bihar. 

Opinion polls, which till over a month ago had given clear majority to RJD-JDU alliance, swung in NDA’s favor. Following the Lalu -Modi tiff over beef in the run up to Bihar polls, Telegraph quoted a RJD leader pointing out, “The tricky thing is that not engaging will mean letting the campaign (election) go unchallenged. On the other hand, the more we engage, the more central beef becomes to the discourse.”

Beef is helping lotus bloom in Bihar. Once it blossoms completely, cow will become immortal in Bihar too, just like in Haryana, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan. 

Constitutionally, India is a sovereign, secular and democratic country. But, in the existing scenario, its principles, policies, practices and politics do not reflect so. 

Secularism is now officially called “Sickularism” and the person practicing it a “Sickularist”. Anybody talking about minority rights, minorities’ welfare and justice for them automatically qualifies to be a sickcularist. This just made way to a “did you know fact”.

Do you know who invented the term Sickularist?

Here is a clue. The same man who invented the term “Prestitutes”. Second clue, he is not an academician, public intellectual, media person, or a political leader. 

Ah. He is none other than the present MoS of External Affairs General VK Singh. He is a former Army General and the man who redefined the meaning of the pious term, secularism. With just one tweet, he gave the term a redefinition that equipped millions of bhakts with the ammunitions to fire anyone who talks about pluralism and religious diversity.  He just did it. And you have got to acknowledge him for this. 

If you check #sickularist on Facebook and Twitter, you will see about a million posts and tweets with the hashtag, possibly a Wikipedia page too created by some bhakt.

So it appears that nothing like secularism exists in the dictionary and comprehension of this government, forget about its practice.

And interestingly, if you ask the BJP leaders what secularism means to them, most of them, especially the cow belt leaders end up defending a particular religion saying, “See we believe that everybody is equal, but we don’t believe in minority appeasement.”

This government’s definition of the term is in contradiction with the essence of secularism as stated in our Constitution. 

If you look at beef ban, keeping in mind the true spirit and broader understanding of the constitutional meaning of secularism, you will get to know why there is so much chaos over the ban.

On one hand, this government says that all are equal, and on the other hand, it passes legislations across state assemblies to satisfy the interest, faith, belief and morals of only a selective community. Why?

Because they see that community’s members as their potential voters and hence consider it their moral and political duty to satisfy them. 

Now, what about others whom you do not consider as your potential voters? As a democratically elected government, will you ignore them only because they are numerical minorities?

You should not. But you do ignore them. When such left out communities ask for legalizations to safeguard their interests, faith, belief and morals, or protest against a legislation violating the same, you come up with one line answer: “But we don’t believe in minority appeasement.”

Before proceeding, I recall an interesting argument brought by former PCI Chairman Justice Markandey Katju in answer to the political pressure being built on beefeaters. 

To slam beef ban, Katju recently demanded a law that prohibits maltreatment or killing of rats, snakes, fishes, monkeys, etc on grounds of these animals’ significance in Hindu mythology. “I eat beef and continue to do so. If you don’t have to eat, I am not forcing you for it. Cow is an animal and I don’t consider it as mother,” he added. 

On the same lines, Engineer Rashid, the J&K MLA we already talked about argued, “Cow can be their mother, but what relation do they have with the buffalo? Let me accept that Sakshi Maharaj’s cow can be his mother. What relation has he with my cow that I raised at my home? My cow is my cow, and I decide what I do with it.”

Seriously, why are you forcing people to stop eating beef? 

Is it because Hindus consider cow as their mother and they would not like their mother to be killed and served in the form of exotic and lip smacking kebabs and biryani?

If this is the rationale of imposing the ban on cow slaughter, will you ban the sale, purchase and storage of pork and alcohol for Muslims consider these as impure and unhealthy? Tobacco and tobacco related products are considered impure by the Sikhs. Their religion specifically states that anybody who consumes tobacco is not one of them.

Similarly, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists too have things with which they have issues. Why doesn’t the government bring legislations to satisfy each religion? They too have interests, faiths, beliefs and morals?  Why and how only one community is being given preference over other communities? Is it because the latter are not only religious minorities but also numerical minorities?

The argument here is not that it should be Hindus versus the minorities, but it is about your definition of secularism versus the definition of secularism enshrined in our Constitution. 

The argument is when you say “all are equal”, you choose to see only one community which is in majority and is in the position to keep you in power. 

The argument is when you say, “we don’t believe in minority appeasement”, you mean, “We don’t give a damn about minorities – both religious and numerical. The one which matters to us is numerical majority.”

The argument is, when you say, “Cow is our mother”, you impose that the cow has to be everyone’s mother. 

The argument is when you pass a legislation to protect the rights of one community at the cost of other communities, you defeat the actual definition of secularism which establishes that all are equal. 

The argument is not whether beef ban is right or wrong but it is whether any ban in a democracy is right or wrong. 

When a democratically elected government starts arbitrarily imposing bans, it reflects its political insecurities, incapability to achieve consensus through democratic discussions. 

Credits: 

Copy Editing: Zumbish

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Tajdar Ahmad Khan Written by:

Tajdar A Khan is a Post Graduate in English Journalism from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) and Masters in Design (M.Des) in Film and Video Communication from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad . He is currently working in the creative department in the Pune branch of one of world’s leading IT companies. His interests include advertising, filmmaking, politics and International Relations and he just takes too many chai sutta breaks and watches too many news channels.

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