By Saswat Pattanayak
08 October, 2015
Are the wealthy liberal celebrities who are conveniently challenging Hindutva fanatics to “come murder me for eating beef” aware of the reality that those who actually get murdered for eating beef in India are in no socio-economic position to invite the wrath of the Hindutva fanatics? That, while such invitations are rendered trivial the moment they are forwarded to righteous Savarna, actually have grave consequences for the lives of the oppressed in the Indian society? Are the new beefolutionaries willing to unmask their own class position which is solely responsible over the decades to nurture the dietary politics in India?
Coming to the politics of the matter, India has elected a person who should not have been allowed to contest in elections, to begin with. Therefore, blaming Modi is not going to help - he is merely performing his dharma. The larger question is if we are ready to direct our frustration towards the tenets of that dharma, Hinduism - a religion chockfull of casteist, hatemongering prescriptions. For decades, the well-meaning Hindus among us did not protest against housing discriminations based on dietary habits, where a landlord could mandate accommodation only to vegetarians. The well-meaning Hindus did not wonder out loud as to why there was no sale of beef (the implied bans) on the streets on a daily basis across all states of India. The well-meaning Hindus did not question why “Go-Maata” was acceptable, or even why “Bharat-Maata” was acceptable, or for that matter, why glorification of any “maata” for that matter was to be treated as a sign of virtue. The well-meaning Hindus did not make any government answerable to its refusal to take actions against people who abused anyone during silly cricket matches for insulting Bharat Mata if they cheered for Pakistani cricketers.
The well-meaning Hindus did not return awards and threaten to leave the country when indigenous women were routinely assaulted in police stations for being “Maoists”, and Dalit men and women were paraded naked across villages and caned. The well-meaning Hindus never issued ultimatum to any government that they restrict RSS or Sanatan Sanstha, or the BJP, or Shiv Sena from taking part in political and cultural events. Well-meaning Hindus did not stop visiting temples that were prohibiting the entry of Dalits; they did not stop inviting exclusively the Brahmins to officiate what again they treated as “auspicious”. Indeed, well-meaning Savarna Hindus may as well have disagreed with their friends and relatives on matters of religious evils, but they did not quite terminate relationships based on such “philosophical” grounds, by just emerging as better people with "let's agree to disagree" conclusions. Well-meaning Hindus did not question why the labor composition of the domestic slave market in India was overwhelmingly outcastes. And no level of awareness prevented the well-meaning Hindus from exploiting unpaid labor, and from shopping at socially designated butchers and cobblers, and in showing the mlechhas and the pariahs their societal places. Well-meaning Hindus did not burn down the sacred threads and in case they were not born that lucky, they did not dissociate themselves from those who reveled in them. After sugarcoating the Caste-System as Division of Labor, the well-meaning Hindus who have magically been able to disown caste privileges, now are predictably angered by the “communal politics” between Laloo and Modi over beef. “What a silly topic to fight over…look yo, I got beef on my plate,” says the well-meaning Hindu without having the need to probe into the affordability of such statements.
Heck, even after Gujarat carnage, when its mastermind today rules the country while his henchmen are bailed out, well-meaning Hindus still have great faith in the country’s judiciary since the understanding runs deep, that the moment a legal uniform is worn, the religious and caste predispositions in a fellow well-meaning Hindu disappears into thin air. While taking comfort in calling the fanatics of India a “fringe element”, the well-meaning Hindu who forms the decent majority of the country then comfortably tunes into “Mann ki Baat”, and hopes to get rejuvenated with a monologue on beef, and failing which, experiences temporary angst, calls Modi the boss of everything fringe, then turns to the beef plate as secret weapon, because such fringe guys - external to self and external to society - cannot be ignored at ease; they must be challenged with beefolution.
Saswat Pattanayak is a New York-based journalist, atheist, feminist, LGBT ally, black power comrade and academic non-elite
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