In these prevailing hot summer months, the world is facing several global challenges of economic, political and social upheavals caused by the WuhanVirus. In addition, India is also facing China’s ugly expansionist agenda and Pakistan’s terrorist assaults as most unwanted un-neighborly acts of intransigence. Thus it may seem rather frivolous to talk about beef and cow related issues at this point in time , but perhaps we can all do with a little frivolity during these times whether to lighten the mood or not forgetting the past and staying connected!
The immediate inspiration, instigation and motivation to write about the cow beef issue came from a twitter post by a very honorable lady , Mrs. Manisha Pande , Exec Editor @newslaundry, where it appears she deals mostly with dirty laundry or linen in Delhi ! The tweet said “ Cow is meat, not mother.
For many Malayali’s, this is delicious, deep fried truth”. This quote comes from an article in the much revered Economic Times written by a likely charming Charmy Harikrishnan in 2017. The article waxes lyrically about the deliciousness of beef, and sprinkles some serious masala with references to cultural divisions between the “Cow-Worshiping” North and the “Culturally inclusive” South. The result is indeed a deep fried mess ! So to combat any indigestion after consuming this article, I thought it would make sense to take a closer look at the ingredients that the delightful Chef Charmy Harikrishnan dropped into this toxic Khichdi. The main ingredient of Charmy Harikrishnan’s dish is the denigration of the idea that a cow is something that deserves to be worshipped.
Ironically, around the same time the article was published I was asked by a hardcore beef eating Baptist in the Bible Belt of US, why Hindus worship cows and don’t eat beef? I explained to him that we express our gratitude to God for giving us this beautiful entity that serves as a vital part of India’s agrarian and family village life. Cows tills the land for the harvest that provides both food and economic growth. She provides transportation by pulling the cart and biodegradable fuel for the home through “Gober gas”. She provides nourishment for the human infant in the form of milk (an important source of key minerals and vitamins for children) and even in death, provides a shelter and/or income with the leather it leaves behind. The man laughed heartily when I further explained , that’s why the West calls a successful business a “Cash Cow” ! So why would you kill something that provides so much to you and your family? Surely she is worth more than a happy meal! So while it may be easy to score a few political points by spearing the “Gaurakshak” as a religious fanatic, its worth also appreciating the role cows play in what is still very much an Agrarian society.
The article then amalgamates a variety of masalas such as “Eating beef is culturally important to Kerela” to which I would rebut with the Dog festival in Yuhan, or stoning women accused of adultery in Afghanistan. When exactly did the term “Cultural” become an excuse to protect parts of society that don’t need to be preserved? We applauded when Saudi Arabia finally gave women the right to drive against their cultural norms, and will do the same when China abolishes the Dog festival so why should India try to move against the winds of progress? (More on this later) She then references minority rights as her “Tadka” asking if the North realizes how it is impinging on the freedoms of a growing minority of the population in the country. The last time I heard that argument was against the law that abolished smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places. A few decades on, no one seems to lament about the “lost freedoms of smokers” and rather enjoy a breathe of fresh air while sipping on their drink.
Now, while eating beef doesn’t have the immediate detrimental effects of second hand smoke, animal agriculture has a significant impact on climate change. One pound of beef/meat requires almost 1799 gallons of water on average meaning 55% of the water used in the US today is used on animal farms. A 2013 UN study shows that greenhouse emissions from beef production is the same as emissions’ from India as a WHOLE! Further almost 30% of the world’s ice free land is used for cattle farming leading to massive deforestation in countries like Brazil meaning we can take a major step towards combating climate change by reducing the number of beef eaters in the world. So is it really that bad if we utilize the “cultural affection” we have for cows to curb the acceptance of beef on the menu?
Full disclosure, I am a non-vegetarian who doesn’t eat beef due to a combination of my cultural upbringing as well as the scientific reasons stated above and I do NOT condone any violence on the basis of religion. I do also dismiss the opinions of those who defend cruelty of any kind, specially to animals like the two repugnant humans who tied a cow to their truck and stoned her to death in UP. So whether it’s Charmy Harikrishnan or Manisha Pande, the intellectual bankruptcy and educated incapacity of their arguments streaks naked! Thanks to incendiary articles like this one, the cow has become a divisive topic in India and is now targeted by cheap political manipulators as a form of assault on Hindus. So for all those who partake in a steak once in a while, please do so knowing full well its full and actual cost. For while the waiter is carving off the juiciest cut for your pleasure, there are those who are planning to do the same with the country.
“Maa thujhay salaam”!
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