In keeping with the stature of his office, the Prime Minister has ensured that the above two words cannot be used as adjectives for the message he has sent out.
The message he sent out was to senior ministers in his government, who were seen to be making unequivocal, unambiguous statements, to keep the communal pot boiling, as is the responsibility of senior ministers. If they don’t, who will?
These senior ministers had been forced to take the responsible, mature stand they took, owing to a man being lynched just outside Delhi, the national capital. Apparently because the man was eating beef. Or planning to. In 2015.
The PM sent out the message, not directly, but through a trusted aide, who went and whispered into the ears of these senior leaders. The message whispered, as he informed the media later, was that those leaders should not make a fool of themselves and embarrass the party. This, as is clear to everyone, means that they should encourage communal harmony, peaceful co-existence and sensitivity for each other’s faith, beliefs and way of life and come out strongly against the perpetrators of violence.
The message was so un-unequivocal and so un-unambiguous, that most of the leaders whispered to, had come out with clarifications within twenty-four hours, that no such message had been whispered to them.
The trusted aide also clarified that the PM did not need to make a statement on the issue, as law and order was a state subject, and that the state government, where the lynching happened, run by a different political party, had to deal with it. He further clarified that only senior ministers in the central government, and senior leaders from other states, where the government was formed by the party in power at the Centre, were bound to make statements, as per the moral code binding all politicians, as they had nothing to do with the issue.
But we are losing the thread of the story. Of the incident.
“What were we supposed to do?” An existentialist question had been asked. By the group claiming to be responsible for the lynching. The gathered luminaries, among them representatives of the police, the judiciary and the media, were speechless. Feverish cross-talk broke out among them.
What is a group of people, claiming to represent the sentiments of a billion Hindus, like millions of other such groups, all claiming representative rights for the same billion, supposed to do in the face of a perceived slight to what they consider to be “their belief system”?
Of course, as is the case with all intellectual debates between a large mob and a smaller one, even as small as one, the debate ends in a consensus with the smaller mob getting its member/s killed mercilessly. As is the case in civil societies, in countries proclaiming to be secular, with a Constitution guaranteeing, among others, the right to freedom of religion and speech, and where the rule of law prevails, for the most part.
In this case, the “belief system” that got violated was veneration of the cow as sacred. Many Hindus believe in this.
And, of course, if you are a Hindu who does not believe in upholding the cow as sacred, you do not count, because you cannot be considered to be a Hindu if that is what your belief system is. Further, if you are a beef-eating Hindu you run the risk of being cast out of the religion. By one of the millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion. A beef-eater cannot be a Hindu. Period. They know. They know because an intolerant, bigoted, hate-filled group always knows. Knows what others should do. Knows how others should behave.
And, being a Hindu no longer, your beliefs will not count. How can it be possible for anyone who is not a Hindu to have a belief system?
A senior politician, of a different political party, has waded into the dispute by calling out this elephant in the room. He has said that many Hindus also eat beef. As all reasonable statements, which could be true, and militate against the illogical beliefs of some, must, he has been forced to retract his words and clarify that what the words meant is not what he meant by those words. Clear?
The Chief Minister of Delhi, which is contiguous to the state where the lynching happened, displaying his pure, apolitical intentions, blamed all other politicians for weighing in on the issue for the purpose of getting political mileage whereas he was weighing-in selflessly.
Unseemly and unfortunate though the lynching incident is, it has led to a lot of dirty linen being washed in public, bringing clarity to a host of issues.
Non-believers have been asking if it is only Indian cows that are sacred or is it all cows.
One of the millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion has clarified that the status of cows will be determined on a case-to-case basis. It has already been determined that cows in a few other countries, particularly the US and Japan, are in the “veneration-exempt” category because these nations supply us with important religious implements, such as iPhones and flat-screen TVs, which are important tools for propagation of the Hindu faith. For a continued supply of these goods, it is necessary that people in these countries continue to consume beef as it is a part of their diet. Leaders in these countries have expressed a sigh of relief and thanked the one of millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion issuing this clarification.
People in other countries, which do not produce any tools that are useful in the propagation of the Hindu faith, have no need to consume beef, as they don’t do anything that is of value to the human race. As such, cows in these countries are equally sacred and should be protected. If these countries, with whom we have no material trade ties, don’t agree to veneration of cows, we will stop trading relationships with them, was the hard stand taken, rooted in faith and ideology.
Moreover, with clean water and air in some places, as well as wholesome, abundant nutrition, available to bovines, many countries are not able to produce cows of the same religious intensity and fervour as in India. With their diet of plastic and trash, frequent run-ins with street dogs and urchins when let loose by the owner, cows in India are on an altogether different plane. Hence, in order that the quality of the stock is not diluted, it is best cows in some nations stay off the venerable list.
Meanwhile, cows in the US have gone on strike. They want better working conditions and a more meaningful life. They have appealed to the President to arrange for H-1B visas for them to work in India where they can live in misery and be used by one of the millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion, for justifying their actions. They want their whole existence to be useful to someone. Not merely their body.
Many of the millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion are hurt by the accusations of intolerance levelled against them. In all fairness, they say, they have always been flexible.
After all, did they prevent recent occupiers from the West from consuming beef? Did they prevent earlier occupiers from West and North Asia from consuming beef? Even though they had no power to stop them, they did not. How can they be called intolerant? Even today, do they prevent tourists from eating beef? Tourists bring money. Money is useful in pursuit of religion.
Another group, smaller than the group against consumption of beef, and hence more representative of the entire religion, has decried the consumption of any meat, be it fish, chicken, or anything else, and have proceeded to hack down dissenters.
Yet another group, smaller than the second, and hence the most representative of the religion, has decried the consumption of sense-aggravating items like onions. In keeping with the peaceful philosophy of their faith, they have proceeded to hack down dissenters.
As per laws of the land, the only way to settle an intellectual debate is by hacking down of the weaker by the more populous.
Large corporations, as always, have been quick to react. Life insurance companies have revised their application process and, just after the question “Do you have any existing medical condition” and before “Are you a smoker”, have added ““Are you fond of eating food that could get you killed by people who find it objectionable?”. Premia for people responding with a “Yes” have been revised accordingly. Many airlines, as a preventive safety measure, just after “Has your check-in baggage been packed by you?” and before “Are you carrying anything on behalf of someone else?” have added a question “Are you fond of eating any food that could get you killed by people who find it objectionable?”
Lest this article convey the impression that the millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion, seek to create inter-faith disharmony, I apologise. These millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion are impartial dispensers of justice, the kangaroo court way. In the last couple of years, several “rationalists”, Hindu by birth, advocating objective beliefs over myths in pursuit of faith, have been killed by one or the other of the millions of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion.
As a result, the state apparatus has asked the common man to be sensitive to the belief systems of others. To the belief systems of small groups claiming representation rights over the same billion. Naturally, this has been done for the benefit of the common man.
The bravery of these groups is infectious. They never identify themselves. They never square up for a debate. Their bravery in the face of odds when faced with an enemy, much fewer in number, unarmed, without any history of being aggressive, is inspiring a whole generation.
What should we call them? Cow-ards?