Off the Ground to the Menu
Interesting turn of events - at least in the Jallikattu front - with Tamil Nadu in the line of fire. The cow and the bull have been giving the Prime Minister quite some trouble these days it seems. From the time he tried to give a menu card - of what to eat and what not to (banning a few in the mean time) instead of abolishing hunger, diversion from issues that needs to be in focus seems to be the central theme about his moves and a stray part of the country seems to sway to his tune.
For starters let us take some hunger facts into account.
According to FAO estimates in ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2015” report, 194.6 million people are undernourished in India. By this measure India is home to a quarter of the undernourished population in the world.
Now, add these facts too.
- India is home to the largest undernourished and hungry population in the world
- 15.2% of our population is undernourished
- 194.6million people go hungry everyday
- 30.7% of children under 5 are underweight
- 58% of children stunted by 2 years of age
- 1 in 4 children malnourished
- 3,000 children in India die every day from poor diet related illness
- 24% of under-five deaths in India
- 30% of neo-natal deaths in India
Does banning a category of meat solve the issue of hunger (?) or help feed the hungry (???) Well then, I would gladly spare not just the bull and his mother - the holy cow, yet also the buffalo too. Kerala rose up to roast this silly plan in its own style and platter. The moment the ban shot up, there were beef-eating fests taking place all over God's own country; so much so that even Yama Dharma's vehicle would have been at stake had he dared objected.
Off the Menu to the Ground
Then came the clipping of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and Kambala in Karnataka. Why bother? Why interfere? Especially in areas where mass sentiments, traditions and rituals are part of a life-style for Indians - even if it does not fit into the measure of sense, sensitivity and nevertheless - sensibility of a minority-few...
I remember a certain ritual followed in Karnataka where more than 500 devotees arrive at the Kukke Subrahmanya temple in Dakshin Kannada to take part in its trademark three-day ritual called the 'made snana.'
The made snana ('made' meaning leftover and 'snana' meaning bath), in which people roll over plantain leaves with leftovers of food eaten by Brahmins. Devotees, believe the practice will cure and protect them from skin diseases, infertility or a family curse.
The religious tradition became controversial in 2010 when, pushed by social and Dalit activists, the state government tried to ban it. The progressives criticised the ritual as being caste-based, against hygiene, and against human dignity. Traditionalists have argued that the government must stay out of matters of personal faith.
The state government's ban on this practice - in a pretext to be progressive - caused a hue and cry, especially among the forest tribe community called the Malekudiyas. The Malekudiyas, who played a significant role in temple functions refused to perform their duties and demanded that the ban be lifted. In 2011, BS Yeddyurappa, the chief minster at the time, relented to the pressure from devotees, priests and members of his administration and reinstated the tradition. Ironically, the ones for whom the ban was imposed, were the ones who fought to lift the ban which followed and allowed them to roll there and here and anywhere as they please.
Recently, the one and only (or so he feels) Modi'ji used the media as his medium to announce his idea of a demonetization drive with no other consultation, parliamentary resolution or consensus required from people or their representatives - or so he felt, marking his spot and take on where he sits in the fine line of democracy quite clear to any political observer. Once again with 97% of the notes reaching the banks, perhaps the remaining 3 lying in the hands of curios collectors and those retaining a few notes for sentiment-value or with the likes of the poor tribal who neither knows about this demon-itization drive nor has a bank account to exchange his life-long savings of a few thousand crumbled old notes rolled into a small stack. Everyone exchanged their old notes for new and easier to store pink notes now available in higher denominations - the rich somehow managed to fill in their store before anyone else could - a few stray incidents showed the unbelievable quantum of pinks the sleuths could trace to the doors of rich people when most of India was waiting like beggars to draw their own money in giant queues in front of No Time Teller Machines that seemed to be always out of cash; the rich seemed to have benefited from Modiji's plan before the poor and the really ordinary middle-class - the one's like me - could even get a glimpse of those hard to exchange, girly-pink notes.
According to a recent Indian government committee constituted to estimate poverty, nearly 38% of India’s population (380 million) is poor.
For some more relevant statistics:
- 50% of Indians don’t have proper shelter
- 70% don’t have access to decent toilets
- 35% of households don’t have a nearby water source
- 85% of villages don’t have a secondary school
- Over 40% of these same villages don’t have proper roads connecting them.
So basically at the end of the day, through this demon-itization exercise, the keeper of the welfare state managed to get the sensex crashed, businesses drop, got the government to spend quite some stack to not just print yet also destroy over 15 lakh crore in cash (of 500 and 1000 Rs notes) that came back to the treasury's shelf that will be of no use to anyone anymore; somehow the government managed to recall no black money at all with absolutely no point in this exercise. Meanwhile, the incidence of poverty and its effect remains the same with no Modi-fication done in that front... history seems to record a classic Thuqlak'ian blunder once again.
Now there is an ongoing digital drive and a subtle forcing aadhar up your (whatever) drive that is going on. (Shall write about that soon.) In the meantime as I await the next ban, before the final ban on thinking happens, I think the bull is going to lock horns with the one who released it - as they say, 'the one who lives by the sword will die by the sword.' As for the people of Tamil Nadu, ironically, the biggest and best Jallikattu seems to have happened this year - where they have tamed the undemocratic beast let loose from the centre with people power at the state. Someone has to bell the cat or the bovine as the case may be... isn't it?