Secularism on Paper
Food is one of the most important aspects in any culture. In fact the very dynamism of a culture centers on ‘What you eat, where you eat and with whom you eat’. Months back the ban on Beef in Mr. Fadnavis lead BJP government in Maharashtra sparked an intense controversy initiating debates on Freedom of choice and in those in view of citizen’s fundamental rights that the Indian constitution promises. The beef ban created quite a stir amid think thanks and social activists and the public alike; Needles s to say that the ban on beef continues. Though cow slaughter is on ban in many states across India before hand, many of those states had their ban imposed exclusively on cows.
Now Maharashtra government has yet again landed itself or in other words created a new row of controversy by rolling out a ban on meat, though not permanently. The ban was which was initially imposed over a period of just over a week sighting the Jain festivals was however trimmed down to a 48 hour ban. But the concern here is not on the duration of the ban but the act of the ban itself.
Post the 2014 elections Mr. Modi led BJP has seen more sweeping victories in its entire history of political existence. This has not only added strength to the Lotus but also to the their paternal body RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ). In a meticulously planned pace RSS stronghold has influenced heavily on the cultural policies and moves that the Indian government has taken. The government on the other hand has never failed, so far, to endorse the Hindu right wing ideological aspects of its alma mater and clearly stands by it and even tries its best to materialize them during their tenure, though not openly.
It might have been an unprecedented experience for everyone to witness the senior ministers presenting their portfolio based performance report cards not to the Prime Minister of the nation but to the RSS. Let alone the Congress slamming the act, the whole nation was puzzled (not so, in fact; all knew about the BJP leaning to the RSS, but what amused was the open way of affirming the superiority of the Sangh over the Ruling government of the largest democratic nation in the world.) wondering to whom the ruling government is accountable to – The people of the nation or the RSS?
Mr. Modi tries his best to present his government as pro-secular and boasts himself as an ardent advocate of religious harmony. His presence and speech on the conclusive day of the International Buddhist Conclave his ‘meditation show’ at the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya is worth remembering here.
Through denying the fundamental right on the freedom of choice regarding one’s food is not only against constitution but nothing but a democratic dictatorship. By forcing ban on foods the Hindu right wing, through the government, openly has revealed its keenness in establishing a cultural monopoly – across this land diverse in its culture and language- that obviously hails the Hindu culture.