The “Veg Aloo Tikki Burger” Nation…

“ Mohammad Akhlaq, 52, was accused of killing a cow and eating it after a RUMOR was circulated using the public announcement system at a local temple.”
“Muslims can live in this country, but will have to give up eating beef: Manohar Lal Khattar.”

In the last fortnight these are the headlines that have taken over the front page of every leading national newspaper in India. Some of it has spilled over to the overseas as well with Huffington Post, Time Magazine, Washington Post and many more covering these stories. Here is my take on everything and nothing.

The country we grew up in was always referred to as ‘diverse’, ‘democratic’, ‘spirited’. A mix of different cultures threaded together by love and tolerance. ‘Tolerance’ being the key word. Where the did that go? How did we become a nation who hated, bullied and possibly harmed one another?

We have all grown up on stories about how our ancestors fought for the freedom of this country, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian alike. Were they just fables we concocted? Was it all a lie? See there, we are already doubting everything…

Mohammad Akhlaq, the 52 year old gentleman who was lynched to death was one of us and he was murdered by one of us merely on the basis of a “doubt”. Have we allotted the blame on someones head yet? Yes, we have stated that the Central Government is responsible in making this country a “veg aloo tikki burger with or without cheese” nation.

But have we questioned ourselves as to how we are becoming so intolerant? Is it really a government that came to power and we lost our moral cool? Last time I checked I had a mind of my own that could differentiate between what is right and what is not. We all do. Then how are we becoming so ugly in our demeanor? It is the herd mentality that is seeing an uprising?

Also, I really don’t know what is worse, the fact that a mob murdered an innocent man on the basis of a “rumour” or the sensationalism by the Indian Media.News channels make a hashtag faster than 2 minutes noodles and of course sensible debates. This one particular gentleman and his news channel actually went out and aired a show that started with the statement “Eating Beef in U.P. is a crime.” Look, I have a problem with that statement, you should too. Stop the instigation. It is not just U.P. or Bihar or Maharashtra, it is a problem eating our nation. The nation does not need pointing fingers, it needs unity and that is least expected from our news portals. We know the problem areas, work on making things better not worse!

The conversations around the #BeefBan issue on Social media showed all kinds of perspective. Some instigated, agreed and a large majority were dead against the ban.

I am going to go all out and say the media does play a great role in shaping our minds and form opinions about things. But Social media goes beyond that, it lets us see different perspectives and that is what we saw in this case. Facts like India is one of the top exporters of beef and has exported about 2.4 million tonnes in 2014–15 with 23.3% of World’s beef production was an eye opener!

The analogy might not be as straightforward. Allow me to explain — India is the largest exporter of beef (buffalo meat) and has been for a while. Moreover, the reality is that cattle are deemed useless once bullock are too old for farming and cows are too old to provide milk/rear calves — so these ‘holy’ animals are allowed to die painfully of starvation.

Now many would say that when a petition was filed against the Yulin, the dog eating festival in China there was an uproar and everyone was with it then why not this? I get the argument of westerners being horrified that dogs are killed in China for meat and the analogy to beef in India; but there is overwhelming evidence that all meats (including beef) have been consumed in India for many centuries.

Only difference? The people used to embrace the concept of ‘live and let live’ earlier — “I’m okay with what you eat/do, as long as you don’t impose your views on me”. This attitude of tolerance and peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths/cultures is dying now, sadly. Simply put — Bans are not the solution. Oh my Veg Aloo-tikki burger nation, what the hell is going on? If I want to be a beef biryani, let me be.

I’m going to leave you with this beautiful short film “Bombay Mirror” by Shlok Sharma which very well defines the term “closed minds”. Bombay Mirror reflects that grotesque term beautifully.

I would love to hear your comments about this. So message, email, text, call whatever suits.

Peace out. xx

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