In recent times, the fervor of religious intolerance regarding Cow slaughter has gained momentum in India. Drawing from Hindu mythology figures like Kamdhenu (a divine- bovine Goddess, which can fulfill all desires) has provided cows a special position in the Hindu households. Some sections of Hindu population, who regard cow as a religious symbol and sacred animal, are staunchly against its killing for consumption purposes. Incidents like Dadri lynching clearly manifest the rising dissatisfaction among this section of Hindu population, voice of which has become much vocal under the aegis of current right-wing government.
The much hyped demand of abolition of cow slaughter in India seems problematic on two grounds. First and foremost, it basically envisages a totalitarian regime where the demands of many curb the voices of a few. In this case not only the voices of other communities but dissimilar voices from within. This very tenet, as has widely been discussed in media, is against the secular nature of Indian democracy. Even the constituent assembly in its deliberations had put protection of cow in Directive Principles of State Policy with similar issues like that of ban on liquor etc. which are only suggestive, not binding in nature. Secondly, on the moral ground, should there be a demand of the ban on cow slaughter? In a country where cow is regarded as Mother Goddess, why are there thousands of abandoned cows on roads who have become economically unproductive to their owners. Moreover, are most of the Hindus, especially those who are demanding a ban on cow slaughter, rearing at least one cow in their houses despite it has stopped benefitting them in form of milk? Should not there be a similar demand for a law which makes Cow rearing mandatory for all Hindus, who, as has been stated widely, worship it.
So, this chaos on beef eating, which was long there in Indian history seems a political gimmick which has been used time and again to woo the voters in scheduled elections on the name of Hindutva. Hence one should demand what one practices; and belief what one can practice instead of having blindfolded belief in religious texts like Vedas. Though on the contrary, if we talk about Vedas itself, according to historians like D. N. Jha, beef eating was a common practice not just in certain sections of Hindus or Buddhists but also among the so called spiritually high Brahmans themselves in the much revered Vedic and post Vedic period!
Abhishek Dwivedi is a MPhil Sociology 2nd Year student at South Asian University.