Beef, not just cow, but buffalo too, has been banned in Maharashtra. I don’t think its going to stop here. If the ultimate agenda of the State is banning meat of all kinds (eventually), cigarettes – by making them out of reach, and alcohol – wiping all these off the face of India by a mixture of social opprobrium, legal bans and tax imposition, it will not only hit revenues hard but also drive a lot of people out of work. But even if that was acceptable, the decision to ban takes away one major thing from the citizens. Free choice to decide for themselves.
It may seem trivial to many, but once that is touched, a barrier is crossed. If shrugged off and accepted, bans soon start invading our cultural and social spaces too and before we know it, the very nature of the State has changed, from benign to malignant. It remains to be seen whether the mandate of 31% had foreseen and chosen this eventual path in the name of “development”, and whether that choice is acceptable to all Indians, whether this highhandedness is so welcome that it will outlast these five years, or not.
Is it important for the media to be constantly reporting seemingly trivial news items from the interiors about sadhvis and obscure MLA’s shooting off their mouths and making regressive statements? Or the RSS’s remarkable loquacity these days? BJP supporters would say, no, its a waste of time, and prefer we look away. But these voices that are dismissed as fringe and unimportant, are the indoctrination exercises that ensure that not only does this highhandedness last, but well before the mandated five years, they become a way of life.
TARGET GOA ADDS: In Goa they do it without a ban. First the Goa Meat Complex is shut down on a protracted “renovation” phase, then animal activists are waylaid and beaten up, the authorities clamp down on “illegal” beef and Goans kiss goodbye to their beef roulado, pepper steaks, beef chilly fry. The funny thing is there are many Hindu tourists in Goa who head for the beef serving restaurants and eat like there’s no tomorrow. It’s generally buffalo beef and bulls that give their lives up for Goan tables, not cows. So if it is cruelty against animals, why, ask indignant restauranteurs, do the activists not fight for the chickens and pigs’ right to life? But Gautam Benegal shoves a scary ingredient into the mix. Our freedoms are being encroached upon – one joy at a time.