The Politics of Food: Is the Meat Ban During Paryushan justified?
The Politics of Food: Is the Meat Ban During Paryushan justified?The Bombay HC has just allowed the sale of meat on September 17 even as pros and cons of the meat ban are being hotly debated on television channels and media reports. After the beef ban, the state of Maharashtra has witnessed yet another attempt to curb non vegetarianism in India. Decision for banning consumption of meat for 8 days was taken by the MBMC (under BJP) during Paryushan when the Jain community observes monasticism. As a mark of respect for the Jains, abattoirs in most Maharashtrian cities remained closed for some days. But the insistence of MBMC on closure of private consumption of meat has drawn its fair share of political (read MNS and Shiv Sena) and non political critics. Let us examine if the ban on meat is justified or not.
Meat Ban is Not Justified
1. Ban is selective and contradictory -Jains have asked for a ban against mutton and chicken while allowing the sale of fish and eggs. This is a contradiction in itself and raises doubts about the justifiability of the meat ban.
2. Ban erodes secular character of state- Maharashtra has been a secular state with Muslims and non-Muslims living in harmony till communalism raised its ugly head. Bans such as these further erode the secular character of the state and create differences between communities that support the ban and those who do not.
3. Harms the Cause of Vegetarian and Non Violence - By imposing a forcible ban rather than letting people make their own decision, the meat ban ironically furthers the cause of non vegetarians who will resist forced change in their eating habits. Rather than promoting vegetarianism, the ban will have the opposite effect.
4. Ban violates fundamental liberties - According to the Indian Constitution, each religious community has the right to follow its own practices without hurting the sentiments of others. During Bakri-Id Muslims too have right to follow the traditional diet and eating habits. Paryushan is a Jain festival and there is no reason for forcing non Jains to observe this practice as part of the religious tradition
5. Historic traditions are outmoded - If pre-modern societies observed a meat ban during festivals, this does not mean that the practice should continue till date. After all, modern constitutional politics is about liberty and right to fundamental freedom, not despotism or monarchy which did not recognise individual rights in the contemporary sense.
6. Genuine ethical conversion is no substitute for a ban: Tying the practice of vegetarianism or non violence to sectarian identities rather than ethical values will not work. Associating vegetarianism with Brahmanism, Jainism or Sanskritisation will further create differences rather than uniting communities to rationally choose the path of non violence.
7. Individual Liberty Must be Given Priority: Individual liberty will present social orthodoxy from prevailing. Competitive politics has created differences in the name of communal harmony and if the state begins to make decisions about intimate aspects like eating and drinking habits or what one wears, based on community identity, this furthers excessive state control and identity politics.
8. Other states will follow suit: Promoting and allowing the meat ban to continue in Maharashtra will create a precedence for other states to follow suit. Already, the meat ban has been imposed on Rajasthan.
9. Prohibition does not work - Banning something is not the solution for curbing it. Consider liquor prohibition. This has not only prevented the stoppage of drinking but pushed the practice underground with crime syndicates dealing in illegal hooch causing multiple deaths.
10. Religious strife will be created- Prohibition on local food products supports religious fundamentalism and one man’s meat becomes another man’s poison. Voluntary persuasion and discourse would solve the issues rather than banning meat which will only create religious strife and unrest among communities.
11. Meat ban promotes religious intolerance- Common sense dictates that beef bans and meat bans in Muslim majority states sparks religious intolerance. Rather than promoting cosmopolitanism and tolerance for other’s religious sentiments, meat ban is promoting intolerance and narrow mindedness.
12. Ban will harm the livelihood of abattoirs - Those who earn their livelihood from the sale of meat will be harmed by this ban. It will also have an adverse impact on the meat industry which generates jobs and is a source of livelihood for many.
13. Religious reciprocity cannot be forced- If this was the case, Muslims would demand everyone else also fasts during Ramadan and so, ending the practice of meat on Paryushan carries a similar connotation and message for religious tolerance and reciprocity. One persons’ tolerance should not become another’s appeasement. Live and let live should be the philosophy rather than forcing something on others.
14. Non Vegetarians will store meat in advance- The ban will not effect non vegetarians who store meat in advance or eat in excess to compensate for the days when they cannot eat meat.
Meat Ban is Justified
1. Historic Precedence - Even the Congress government banned meat when circumstances proved to be adverse, rather than hurting religious sentiments.
2. Prevention of hurting religious sentiments- The ban protects the rights of Jains to observe Paryushan and guards it by creating sensitivity in the community about living in harmony and balance
3. Pre Modern states also observed meat bans: Examples of Akbar or princely states banning meat and beef to preserve communal harmony during festivals abound.
4. A sign of respect- The meat ban is a sign of respect for the practice followed by Jain community and it seeks to create a positive environment for the observance of their religious practices for the days of the festival.
5. Meat bans will promote less cruelty towards animals - By following Jain practices, the meat ban will serve as an example for promoting the cause of vegetarianism
6. Ban is only for a short period: The meat ban is being observed on the days that Svetamabar and Digambar Jains practice vegetarianism only. One should not be over sensitivity about short bans which are out of respect for another community
7. Promotes Diversity - Respect for the religious practices of other communities promotes unity in diversity and it is essential for a multi-cultural nation like India to flourish.
8. Increases Religious Harmony- During Akbar’s time, meat was banned for religious reasons for six months. This ban is only for a few days and yet people are opposing it. Such practices of observing the rituals of others will promote harmony and understanding between communities
9. Religious rights should be upheld- Everyone in the nation has the right to follow his/her religious practices and equating religion with individual liberty is wrong. Religion binds a community together and promotes harmony among people of diverse ethnicities through shared rituals and traditions.
The meat ban is not justified because turning one man’s meat into every man’s poison by force is not progressive, modern or democratic. In fact, such bans promote communal unrest and lack of harmony between communities. Selective observance of religious traditions of a few will harm the interests of many. State has no right to interfere in religious beliefs and the question of personal freedom and liberty cannot be ignored here too. The meat ban is a product of competitive politics rather than a genuine attempt to respect the rights of others.
- RE: The Politics of Food: Is the Meat Ban During Paryushan justified? -Deepa Kaushik (09/17/15)
- Banning meat can be discussed under two aspects which mainly describes the motive behind the ban. If the ban is implemented with respect to preservation of the animal species, or secondly whether the ban is a political play giving a thrust to religious groups which leads to undue agitations across the country.
If the ban is a thought to preserve animals, then ideally every animal food should have been banned. Its not the vegan diet, but the vegetarian diet which should have been implemented giving the reasoning of care and security to the animal species. Such a move could have been understood,though even this would lead to hassles across the area.
On the contrary, banning beef, or banning meat and that to before an approaching festive event definitely makes people think of some incorrect intention. We should not forget that India is a secular state and wehave freedom to worship and preach all the religions with equality. we cannot impose a ban that causes hindrance to the religious sentiments of the community.
If at all the Government intends to make changes in the food and health standard of common man, they should have a firm and justified reason behind the same. Without an equality in the law, aban on the meat or beef alone is not justified.
- RE: The Politics of Food: Is the Meat Ban During Paryushan justified? -gopal agrawal (09/14/15)
- ITS NOT NECESSARY TO FORCE A PEOPLE TO ADOPT A SYSTEM .RATHER THEY MAKE A CHOICE TO ADAPT IT....IN INDIA MANY PEOPLE COMPLAIN OF CHRISTIANS CONVERTING MANY POOR FARMERS TO ADOPT CHRISANITY....HINDUS HAVE A LOUD MUSIC DAY AND NIGHT ON VARIOUS FESTIVALS LIKE GANPATI...NAVRATRI....ETC..... IN SUCH CASES WE NEVER COMPLAIN...WE ACCEPT IT AS THE SOCIETY MAJOR POPULATION NEEDS IT...SIMILARILY, BANING MEAT IS NOT A MATTER OF DEBATE BUT A MATTER OF ACCEPTANCE OF PEOPLE TOWARDS SOMETHINGS....IF MAJOR PEOPLE ACCEPTS IT WILL SYMBOLIZE UNITY IN DIVERSITY..ITS LIKE THERE IS A DEATH IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD YOU CANNOT THEN DANCE WITH LOUD MUSIC NEXT DOOR....
- RE: The Politics of Food: Is the Meat Ban During Paryushan justified? -Neha Agarwal (09/14/15)
- The politics of food is not justified in any sense.Is this fruitful for whom(for us)??? .of course not.why politician does not ban on wastage of water, resources, child labor or corruption? At least by doing so, this politician can do any good to our country.By meat ban it would be adding any vote bank for them anymore. politician stop entering to privacy of common man.Respect for any religious will not be reflected by banning anymore.
- RE: The Politics of Food: Is the Meat Ban During Paryushan justified? -prateek jain (09/14/15)
- yes it should be banned in india.