Can India really afford to challenge the idea of beef on their plates?
In the wake of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) crisis unfolding, there is a greater picture emerging about the relationship of India and Western powers. The ongoing budget proposals should aim to lift India’s economy significantly higher from the miserable spot it has been stationed in since the Congress Party led the government. At the moment, India is recovering relatively well because of sound foreign investment and good export measurements (India is the world’s largest beef exporter) but India’s national currency, the rupee, continues to fall against the dollar. Sometimes policymakers put a greater emphasis on economic reform even if that means going against the “political grain” and this raises investment confidence, despite the strong competition for attention from Indonesia.
Allies such as the United States have not seen a significant downturn in amicability with India, because of sporadic narrow-minded local protests but that is never the full picture. One of the most pressing local problems about India, to the West (and the Far East) is food. People from Japan have to cross out their desire to visit India over concerns that beef is not included in the local cuisine, particularly in Kashmir, Haryana and Maharashtra. A ban on eating beef in India has not only stirred the Hindu-dominated country into anger, but it has also alienated the need to ban other more prioritising concerns in India, such as corruption. Furthermore, India is a diverse country, home to people of various religious and linguistic backgrounds, and not permitting beef to be included in the local cuisine is getting in the way of celebrating that cultural diversity.
Freedom of speech and the freedom to act should not be restricted in an authoritarian style by the government in an Indian democracy, especially when there is a rising tide of international economic aggressiveness. There is no room for religious intolerance in India, or so it was to be believed since Narendra Modi (and BJP) came to power but several recent political efforts such as these since his election are pushing a parallel point of view and not a particularly sincere one towards Indian tolerance of diversity. Indian society is now rampant with forced religious conversions, conservative Hindu factions are also behaving braver and there is an increased amount of talks over banning certain books. All of this oppression is alienating Indian Muslims and this cannot go on. Muslims in India should not be afraid of intolerance in the country, should not believe that they are getting isolated for their religion, and are being staved off from equal opportunities in getting an education and gaining employment.
The food plates of Indians should not be dictated by the Indian government. Beef is also relatively cheaper in India and a good protein source than both chicken and fish, so this restrictive measure is hurting the income pocket of poorer Muslims, tribals and Dalits, who count beef as a staple food. The rising Hindu sentiment seems to be that eating beef is hurting the Hindu community because they consider a cow to be sacred. They argue that religious diversity in India should not come at the expense of pain for one community, however this sentiment is falling out of place in a rising metropolitan. Although Indians today are being told what to do all the time, from what clothes to wear to where to shop, many Indians today are no longer interested in excluding beef from their local meals. Eating beef in India is regarded as a status symbol because it is one of the primary ingredients in fast foods, such as burgers and steaks. For that, beef appeals as a local food to urban classes, so it is hard to fathom that beef has not carved out a favourable permanent position in the local cuisine of India.