An Opinion on the 'Holy Cow'!

The 'Holy Cow' is again making it to the headlines. This time it has come forward by taking away the life of Mohammed Akhlaq. Few weeks ago, a mob of hundred in Dadri village had stormed into the house of Mohammed Akhlaq and lynched a man to death on the rumours of eating beef. And now the debate is raging like a wildfire. Ministers, MPs, and MLAs of ruling party are making controversial comments. Many have defended the act and others have given smart statements which seem neutral but are more inclined towards defense of the act. In fact, this incident has been successful in turning the attention of the countrymen from 'development', promised by the central government, towards 'holy cow'.

There are many organizations, most of them linked with RSS, which are trying to protect cows from slaughtering. They have their own reasons and arguments against cow slaughtering. It is necessary to discuss about this issue as men are being slaughtered as a revenge for slaughtering of cows. People are confused and are taking stands without understanding much about the issue. The arguments put forth in the defense of ban on cow slaughtering and murder of Akhlaq are highly confusing. Let us try to see what is inside these arguments and whether they stand the test of logic, reason, and facts.

Argument No. 1: "Cows are sacred for Hindus"

It is argued that, according to ancient Hindu scriptures like Vedas, cows are considered sacred and divine and hence slaughtering of cows is prohibited. But invasion of Muslim rulers brought beef eating to India. Muslims eat beef because they want to hurt the sentiments of Hindus. So naturally Hindus of Dadri got angry and killed Akhlaq as he had eaten beef.

But people who argue this way cleverly forget the fact that neither beef eating was introduced to India by Muslims nor Vedas hold cow as sacred. There are many references in Rig Veda about the practice of beef eating by Brahmins. Maharshi Yagnavalkya in Shatapatha Brahmana says that he eats beef because it is very soft and delicious. Vasishta Brahmasutra goes a step further and declares that  if a Brahmin refuses to eat meat offered to him on the ocassion of 'shradda' or worship, he goes to hell! There are plenty of such evidences which clearly show that ancient people of India were relishing beef two thousand years before the Muslim rulers entered India.

People who claim that Vedas hold cow as sacred have never tried to refute these evidences! They simply ignore and bombard the common people with their blatant lies. They are using social media to spread these lies and are well aware that 99% of the users never check the source or research more about the matter they read.

Argument No. 2: "Cow is like mother to Hindus"

When first argument fails, the protectors of cow turn to this argument. "Should we eat beef because ancients did?" they ask. "The mother who gives birth to a child feeds him milk for less than three years but a cow feeds him with milk for rest of his life. She also gives curd, butter and ghee which we use everyday. She is so much useful to us. Her urine can be used as disinfectant, her dung can be used as fertilizer. Should we kill her just because she is no more profitable? Do we kill our mother because she has become old and no more useful? If someone pose a threat to our mother, do we sit and watch like cowards? No! Akhlaq slaughtered cow and ate her flesh, so Hindus took revenge on him."

 Now, we should go to the basics. Are cows voluntarily giving us milk or we are forcefully taking away the milk? First thing, we are taking away the freedom of cow by tying it to some post using rope. Cow is whipped by its owner now and then. Cows are forced to carry heavy loads. Now when cow produces milk for its calf, we forcefully snatching it away! What right do we have to take possession of a cow and drink its milk? Isn't it immoral? Why the protectors of cow still drink its milk? Why don't they fight for the freedom of cows? Do they tie their mothers with rope? Do they whip their mothers? Do they force their mothers to carry weights? If no, how can you let cow, which you consider as your mother, to be treated this way?!

Most of the people who talk about protection of cows have never raised a cow in their life. They don't know the difficulties and cost incurred to raise a cow. They use leather jackets, shoes, belts and purses without ever caring from where it came. This is my firm opinion.

Argument No. 3: "Cows are also living beings like rest of us"

It is argued that cows also have a life. They also feel pain. Hence cow slaughter must be banned.

If we look a little deeper into this, we find that it is just the first two arguments in disguise. Otherwise, why should be that extra emphasis on cow? If they cared about living beings, they should demand ban on slaughtering of all animals. It must be noted that, according to a survey conducted by Anthropological Survey of India in 1993, 88% of the communities living in India were non-vegetarians! That means even majority of the Hindus are non-vegetarians! If the protectors of cow demand ban on animal slaughtering altogether, they would become a minority. Then the slogan of protecting cows would lose its political significance. BJP, the political wing of RSS, has been successful in passing laws against cow slaughtering. That is enough for them because other animals are not as living as cow!

Argument No. 4: "Even constitution is against cow slaughtering"

It is argued that, constitution also prohibits cow slaughtering. There is a law in UP banning it. Despite of knowing it, Akhlaq slaughtered cow and ate beef. So he deserves what was done to him.

This argument sounds like the arguers are lovers of democracy and respect our constitution. But it is quite the contrary. In democracy, we have judicial system to give judgement. Judgement is given by the court according to the law. Whether the law is right or wrong we shall discuss separately. Accused person is given due opportunity to defend himself. Both the parties in a case are allowed to have their say. Evidences must be produced. After all these procedures, if a person is found guilty, punishment is given as per the law. But in Akhlaq's case, none of these democratic norms were followed. The act was carried out in a barbaric fashion, that too over rumours. If a mob of hundred is to decide right and wrong, what is the necessity of police, courts, laws and constitution?  So it is beyond doubt that those who defend the killing of Akhlaq are no lovers of democracy.

Then why all these clamours about cow by 'Hindutva' forces? It is because of its political significance. Majority of the Hindus, despite being non-vegetarians, don't eat beef. But majority of the Muslims eat beef. Britishers used this fact to extend their rule by pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other. Now it has been a definite tool in the hands of Hindutva forces to unite Hindus against Muslims for their political gains. And that is why they hide the fact that Vedas endorse beef eating. Even today, many communities in Hindu religion eat beef. But these organizations don't kill them, they don't even talk about them. But when a Muslim eats beef, it becomes a matter of life and death of Hindutva forces.

We must also note that the central government led by BJP is not able to fulfill its tall promises of 'Development'. They are pursuing the same old policies of Congress which have ruined India and have made life miserable for common man. Hence to divert the attention of people from real problems, they are doing politics using cow. Now it is time that we understand the communal politics of these organizations and not fall prey to it.  

An opinion on "My Choice"

The “My Choice” video of Deepika Padukone, has created waves of sensation in the media for the past few days. This short video clip of of two and a half minutes proclaims to be standing up for women's empowerment and their rights. Deepika, in this video, asserts her right to choose what she wants in her life. It speaks not just about Deepika but women in general. It starts like this: “My body, my mind, my Choice.” The video is concerned mainly with sexuality and the women's right to choose what she wants to do with her body.

Reaction to this video has not been one-sided. The opinion is divided, with some hailing it as a good move and others claiming it to be a farce. But it has stirred controversy for some of the statements made. Even a male version of this video came to fore, which slaps Deepika's “My Choice” video on face. If we assume that the male version is anti-women, then you are wrong. But before dwelving into any discussion, let us know which are the focal points of controversy.

My choice, to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside the marriage.”

My choice, to love temporarily, or to lust forever.”

My choice to come home when I want. Don't be upset if I come home at 4 am. Don't be fooled if I come home at 6 pm.”

These three statements are interconnected in nature. The first statement here says that a woman has the right to have sex before marriage, or to have an extra-marital affair. Second statement says that she has the right to decide how long she will love or lust someone. And the third statement says that she has the right to come and go out of home at anytime without informing anyone or without giving any reason for it. Well, this much of bullets are enough to start a wordwar.

Freedom – Ideal and real

'My Choice' comes from the concept of freedom. I am an individual and a free person and I have the right over my body and mind. But what is freedom? Is it the ability to do what I want to do or what I 'feel' to do? Does freedom means liberation from obligations and constraints whatsoever? Yes, it is so in the case of ideal freedom. But reality is far from ideal. In real life, freedom comes with certain responsibilities, obligations and constraints. I can't choose whether to breathe or not; to survive I have to. To face the odds presented by nature, men must come together; they can't choose to remain aloof. A couple can choose to have a baby or not. But once they have a baby, they are responsible for its care; they can't choose to abandon the child. No freedom can ever be absolute, it is always relative. Doing what is necessary for the life, and society as a whole, to prosper is the highest degree of freedom one can enjoy. If Deepika's parents had chosen to abandon her when she was still a baby, no one knows where she would have ended up in her life. Similarly when we love someone, it is not right to leave him or her in the middle of nowhere, without any reason, stating that it is our choice. Because the other person is also a human being who live and die with feelings and emotions. If we do so, it is not love but lust.
To sum up: If we want to enjoy freedom, we have responsibilities to fulfill. Make your own choice, but choose responsibly.

Social & political rights are okay, but what about moral & ethical values?

We can't dispute that men and women are equal, there must be no discrimination based on gender. Women are entitled for all the social and political rights enjoyed by men. But here in the video, it means something more than that. It says that women has the right to do whatever men do. That is, if a man cheat, lie, have extra-marital affair, deny to have child, it immediately gives women the right to do the same! What the director has not understood here is, WRONG is WRONG, no matter who does it.
There is another statement in the video which I would like to mention in this context: “Your sins (are) my virtues.” Does that mean one can define his own virtues and sins according to his own beliefs? Are morality and ethics subjective? Does this mean there is no right or wrong but only interpretations? Most likely, this is what it means in this context. If this is the case, the asserted logic leads to disastorous conclusions. That is, whatever a person does, it is just an act and there is nothing right or wrong in it. If one can do something, then he has the right to do it. If a man rape a woman, there is nothing wrong in it because he doesn't consider it to be a sin. He choose to rape and hence he did! Well, this doesn't make this world a livable place.

We shall see this from another angle. Let us assume that they have meant to say in this video that 'I will choose what I think because it is my mind. I will choose to use my body as I wish. And no one shall interfere in what I think and what I do with my mind and body.' But we have a problem here. We live in a material world where effects follow the causes.
At somepoint of time in life, we fall ill. The disease might be life threatening. When we go to hospital, if a doctor say I choose whom I treat and at what time, why, it is the doctor's mind, doctor's body, doctor's choice! A person is having extra-marital affairs with many people, concealing the truth from his or her life partner, it is not unethical because it is his or her choice! Parents will choose to run out of relationship leaving the child in lurch, and that is also absolutely rightful because it is their body, their mind, their choice! Do you feel something is wrong here? Don't you?

Moreover, if you say it is my right to choose what I do with my body and mind, and it is wrong if someone try to impose on me what I don't like, still you have your own concept of morality, the concept of right and wrong. This morality is in perpetual contradiction because you are trying to impose this morality on your family, your friends, and your partner – “This is the morality I follow, and you should honour it and follow the same for yourself!” Isn't it so? If you say it is not about right or wrong but my choice, then whatever one person does in relation to another is also a choice, whether it is rape or a murder! When a person enters into a relation with another person, it is not just a mechanical relationship; It involves emotions. If we care a fig for these emotions and choose to walk out whenever we choose, then that means we are treating the other person as an object. You treat everyone else as objects which you can use and dispose whenever you want, then you are also nothing but an object for another person to use and dispose whenever he or she wants; this is the logic.

What is right and what is wrong?

If you feel that a doctor should attend the patient immediately, if you feel a person should not deceive his or her life partner, if you feel parents should not abandon their child, then you accept that life cannot prosper without moral and ethical values. Our choices must be based on morals and ethics. But how and who will decide rights and wrongs? It is we the people, as a society, who should decide. And morals must be decided based on whether it helps life to prosper, whether it helps society to progress.

Principles, morals and ethics are value systems which the human society has formed to regulate and maintain its cohesion and harmony. If we had none of them, then anyone can do anything he wants. Strong will suppress the weak, intelligence will deceive innocence. Evil will enslave the good. This will destroy the very roots of society. Hence men must be taught to love mankind. One must be taught to live a principled life. One must be taught to be ethical. Without teaching these things, how much ever one may cry for social and political rights, another will be there to trample those rights underfoot.

The video might have been created with good intention, but it certainly sends a wrong message to the society. It is true that women are being enslaved. It is true they have been tied by numerous social customs formed by this patriarchal society. To free themselves, women must organize themselves, not against men, but against oppression and injustice. Because wrong is wrong, no matter who says it or does it.

To end, I remember one of the Aristotle's sayings: “Educating the mind without educating the heart creates civilized barbarians.”

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