Friday, April 3, 2015

Cows roaming the streets is a stereotype, much abused by malicious propagandists

Are there "millions" of abandoned cows and bulls roaming the streets of India? Absolutely not.

A person I share an online forum with pointed recently to what he portrayed as a "Hindu" problem - cattle roaming the streets in some Indian towns and cities.

He made the following comment in reference to an interview with Prof. Kancha Ilaiah published on Quartz India website on 21 March 2015. 

"Interesting article. No religious Hindu has ever offered a practical solution for the problem of millions of abandoned cows and bulls roaming and living on trash on streets of India. Hindus (and followers of other Indian religions) are sycophants. They consume cow's milk and then abandon them to starve on streets. "Gaushalas" are just a farce. Orthodox Hindus build Gaushalas (for a few cows), and Christian missionaries build Orphanages. Will Ban on cow slaughter magnify the problem? Regressive practices of orthodox Hindus could continue to weaken Hinduism, and continue to drive lower castes into the arms of Christian missionaries."

(Prof. Kancha Ilaiah, who currently works for Maulana Azad National Urdu University at Hyderabad, argues in his article that ban on beef "is definitely a cultural imposition, particularly on indigenous groups such as tribals and Dalits". His article, headlined 'History is proof most Hindus never had any beef with beef', can be read on the link below.)

http://qz.com/366659/history- says-most-hindus-never-had- any-beef-with-beef

I wrote the following to the person who made the comment reproduced above.

You seem to have fallen hook, line and sinker for the stuff penned by Kancha Ilaiah, an 'academic' polemicist best known these days for fanning discord among the youth by hosting 'beef eating days' on university campuses and proclaiming Ambedkar as a 'prophet' on the lines of Muhammad.

(I wouldn't put it past Ilaiah to some day advocate enacting an anti-blasphemy law of the kind they have in Pakistan. This guy sounds that militant in his views.)

Your statements are sweeping, opinionated, hyperbolic, and reflect little appreciation of the actual situation prevailing in India.

(a) You say: "No religious Hindu has ever offered a practical solution for the problem of millions of abandoned cows and bulls roaming and living on trash on streets of India."
"Gaushalas" are just a farce."

First of all, you need to drop this hyperbolic "millions" from your assertion. There are absolutely NO "millions of abandoned cows and bulls roaming and living on trash on streets of India".

Most of the cattle found in cities - some of which are shown in stereotypical images of India as roaming or blocking the roads - are not 'abandoned' animals as might be believed, but have owners who have little option or resources but to use whatever little grazing ground they can find in urban areas.

These cattle rearers, many of whom are milk suppliers, tend to be the inhabitants of the rural areas on which all Indian towns and cities have been - or are being - built. That has long been the nature of urbanization in India - with rural areas facing creeping transformation into urbanity rather than being extinguished through planned, project-based laying of a town or city.

In cities such as Bhopal, which is still full of swathes of rural habitations and green farms, one often sees these owners rounding up their animals in the evening dusk. Large flocks of sheep being grazed in the open scrubs is also a common sight in Bhopal and other cities.

As open grounds shrink, particularly in places that are urbanizing fast or are already densely urbanized, such as a city like Delhi (whose rural pockets have largely vanished, except in the outskirts), you see less and less of the stereotypical images described above.

Most of Delhi, for instance, has already outgrown this portrayal of cattle roaming on the roads.

(Bear in mind that these hackneyed images can easily be produced by stage-managing them and then used over and over again in the media without much context.)

How are you so sure that "no religious Hindu has ever offered a practical solution..."? What makes you think that "Gaushalas are just a farce"? Where is the evidence?

Indians - including "Hindus", "religious" or "non-religious" - don't have to prove their intelligence to anyone. India has no dearth of smart and sensible people, animal husbandry colleges and experts who could come up with "practical solutions" that might be classed the best in the world.

(But the "problem" that you describe is more in the minds of writers like Kancha Ilaiah and those who fall for their propaganda.)

(b) "They (Hindus) consume cow's milk and then abandon them to starve on streets".
"Will Ban on cow slaughter magnify the problem? Regressive practices of orthodox Hindus could continue to weaken Hinduism, and continue to drive lower castes into the arms of Christian missionaries."

Is that why India has the largest headcount of cattle in the world - 'Pashu-dhan' that any human society ought to be proud of - and is the largest producer of milk in the world?

Too bad, "Hindus abandon their cattle to starve on streets". Should they kill those animals? Would that make "Hindus" less "sycophantic"? Would that minify - rather than "magnify" - the problem? Would you deem that a progressive - rather than a "regressive" - practice of "orthodox Hindus". Would that strengthen - rather than "weaken" - Hinduism?

What is so "regressive" about not killing animals in a world which - going by quite empirically 'scientific' counsel - should fast be moving away from meat eating?

And how is all of that related to the "lower castes" being driven "into the arms of Christian missionaries"?
How does cattle slaughter help India become less amenable to Christian missionaries?

What on earth makes you link management of cattle - particularly in urban areas - with Indians being "Hindu" or Hindus being "sycophantic"?

Along with all the propaganda by people like Kancha Ilaiih, the very nature of India's urbanization makes it seem as if live cattle in cities is a problem. I am sure most city dwellers like myself don't see that as a problem. And those who might see that as a problem would be reasonable enough to understand the reasons for such a situation.

(c) By advocating the staging of such stunts as hosting beef eating days in university campuses, Kancha Ilaiah has shown his sick mentality.

People should beware of Ilaiah and his increasingly unreasonable rantings.
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