“You (upper castes) take the best of the cow – its labour, its milk, its offspring, and sell it after you have no use for it. When we find ways to use this resource, you attack us and even kill us (referring to the killing of 5 Dalits in Jhajjar, Haryana, in 2008, who were skinning the carcass of a cow after purchasing it). You are taking our livelihoods from us, even though we make it out of the waste you discard. Is this justice?” — James, a young Dalit activist (in an article dated Jan. 11, 2012)
Stephen does an excellent work of summarizing the laws and the economic implications of meat that inform the food and caste political debate raging in India. It’s worth reading in order to begin to understand the context in which Dalit students at Osmania University in Hyderabad held their Beef-fest last month. There has been an attempt (mostly by the right-wing Hindutva and Hindutva-sympathizers) to steer the caste narrative towards a conveniently reactionary explanation of “young people instigating” a “leftist war”. Conspicuously absent from these opinions are the well-established and violent history of domination from the Hindu Brahmanical sect that closely relates culinary practices to caste purity.
Meena Kandaswamy, a Dalit woman and a poet activist, attended the the Beef-fest to show her solidarity. (The event was marred by violent attacks by the ABVP — the right-wing student group.) In response to her show of support, her twitter feeds were inundated with violent threats including gang rape and acid attacks.
Despite all exits of Osmania University being sealed to not let in the outsiders, the situation turned so violent that Meena and her friends had to be escorted out of the campus in a van with paramilitary personnel. “Meanwhile the situation in the campus had become violent. A televsion channel’s OB van was set on fire and there was continuous stone pelting.”
After having returned to her friend’s place in Hyderabad, Meena logged on to twitter and tweeted about the festival. She evoked several angry responses. A series of strongly worded tweets that indicated a serious threat followed.
“A lot of name calling happened and then I was worried as they started threatening to assault my modesty, attack me with acid and one of them even wanted to put a price put on my head,” Meena said.
The Network of Women in Media issued a strong statement in support of Meena and wrote about the oppressive mandate of these individuals who threaten the fundamental freedom of expression.
The fundamentally violent nature of caste was further revealed when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists conducted a puja to “purify” the campus.
From Food Fascism: The Vegetarian Hypocrisy In India
The construction of today’s India as a vegetarian-loving and cow-praying country is an outright lie and a false cultural-propaganda by right-wing upper caste forces to oppress Dalits, lower-castes and Muslims.
This vegetarian image is also now part of India Inc. and exported to the world. The brand-transformation of India’s colonial image from a country full of snake-charmers to IT savvy Brahmans who are mostly vegetarians, is a false-representation of millions of people’s every day politics and food practices.
Jairam Ramesh, an Iyengar Brahmin and former Minister for Environment, came up with a Brahmanical solution to world’s climate change problem: stop eating beef. He added, “(T)he best thing for us, India, is we are not a beef-eating nation.” He has conveniently forgotten that Indians annually consume 1.14 million tonnes of buffalo meat.
This year India will also overtake the United States as the world’s third largest beef exporter. The vegetarian hypocrisy in India has no limits: the beef-hating project is carefully engineered to advance Brahmanical Hinduism.
Also worth reading: Is it India’s Rosa Parks moment? by Ajaz Ashraf