Animal rights or Hindutva Wrongs? Sriranjini R

Guest Post by SRIRANJINI R

Finally it has happened. ‘Debeefing Kerala’ has arrived. That’s not what the leader of Hindu Makkal Katchi said, though. He said that he’s out to defend animal rights. Really? Then, do animal rights in India help to protect all animals or only specific animals?

These were the questions that popped into my mind when I saw the news of Hindu rightwing activists physically preventing the export of beef from Tamil Nadu to Kerala (The Hindu, Trivandrum edition, July 21, 2015).  The trucks carrying the cattle for slaughter to Kerala, are being stopped by the Hindu Makkal Katchi and the Hanuman Sena on the Tamil Nadu border and taken to a Goshala near Coimbatore, where these animals are supposedly being taken care of. But according to the traders, the cattle are being mistreated in the Goshalas. If this is true, it is not only the traders who are in big trouble, it is also the cattle that probably prefer quick and painless deaths rather than life as pawns of the Hindutvavaadis in the Goshalas!

And all this is happening because the leader of Hindu Makkal Katchi, Arjun Sampath, claims that almost 50 heads of cattle are being stuffed into a truck during transportation, such that they are not able to drink water or even move. The Hindutvavaadis are out to stop this. This is where the animal rights card is being played. Even if we consider all these as violations of animal rights, then the question arises: why does the Hindu zealot have no mercy for other animals apart from cattle? Elephants, chickens, goats – these animals also go through terrible things humans do to them. Don’t they deserve animal rights?

Of course, the actual reason for this sudden compassion for cattle in Tamil Nadu has nothing to do with animal rights. It is simply the power enjoyed by Hindu rightwing forces, sheltered and fostered by the present Hindu rightwing government, using this as a weapon to advance their own cultural agenda.

What I have been wondering is why these people care only about cows (and their husbands and perhaps cousins).  We are certainly not short of sacred animals after all. Let us take the Elephant. Lord Ganapathy is an elephant, but so few Hindutvavaadis go wild over reports of the harassment of elephants which is very common in India, and particularly in Kerala. They are overworked in forests and forced to carry idols during Hindu temple festivals, amidst very large crowds, often in terrible heat and sun, and denied even basic care. Loud fireworks and fire scares all animals. I, a human, myself cannot stand such big crowds. The last time I attended a temple festival, I fainted because I was stuffed between so many people. I wonder how the elephants feel, standing there in chains for hours together. Isn’t the torture of elephants in Hindu (and other) temple festivals and for ‘Kerala culture’ events, against animal rights? Or is it not against animal rights because these are mostly Hindu temple festivals? We don’t see many Hindus stuffed with Hindutvavaadam, protesting against such use of elephants, at least in Kerala.

Then there are the snakes. Snakes are considered to be divine in Hindu religion. But if a snake is seen on the road, the first thing for most people – Hindus are no exception – is to kill it since they are thought to be ‘deadly’. But snakes only attack people if they mess with them. There are only a very few people like Vaava Suresh who catches snakes in a humane way and takes them back to where they should be. There must be some reason for the snakes to come out of their habitats. Who would want to leave their habitat? Well, the snakes like to live in the forests or places with thick bushes. Are there any left in our country? Our government is giving away all the green areas for real estate people to build shops and resorts and basically buildings, buildings, and more buildings. Even the wonderful old Attakkulangara School, Trivandrum city’s oldest green lung and a great refuge for animal and bird life is not safe. Trivandrum Development Authority is planning to fell the ancient trees to build bus bays and a shopping complex. How would you like to live in the middle of the Sahara? Isn’t denying a habitat to snakes against animal rights? Where are the Hindutvavaadis who are dying over animal rights?

Dogs are known to be the human beings’ best friend. Well, it is more than that for us in Kerala. There is a temple in Kerala called Parassinikadavu Madappura where dogs are revered. Recently the Kerala High Court gave the green signal to the killing of stray dogs in Kerala since they are violent. In my whole life, I haven’t come across any stray dog which is violent. But there might be some, as there is evidence of people getting bitten by stray dogs. The reasons for the dogs’ violent behaviour are however hardly ever explored. It is not that all human beings are saints, who never throw even a stone at dogs or irritate them!  Isn’t there any other way? The government can build shelters, have an efficient system to neuter the stray dogs, and build more veterinary hospitals.  Maneka Gandhi may be trying to save the dogs, but the Hindu rightwingers in Kerala are not bothered about the kin of Parassinikkadavu Muthappan’s canine companions! Nor are they bothered about any other creatures that suffer violation of their rights. Cow’s milk is for the calf, so how come goat’s milk is not for the goat’s kid? Broiler chickens go through intense pain their whole lives. Plus, they are transported in small cages and cannot drink water or have food or move during transportation. I guess that doesn’t come under as violation of animal rights. So in short, the Hindu rightwingers’ concern for animal rights is limited to one animal. Secondly, they are not concerned about one particular human right: the right to eat food that is culturally acceptable and found palatable to individuals and groups.

What does this mean? What is so special about cattle that they alone are protected and other ‘sacred’ animals of the Hindu faith itself, ignored? I think there are reasons, mean and dirty ones. The traders of cattle are mainly Muslims; and though meat- and beef-eating is widespread in Kerala, the Hindutvavaadis want to project it as ‘Muslim’! The Muslims are of course the targets of hate as far as the Hindu rightwing is concerned. It is not news in this country that the latter have been trying for very long to cripple the Muslims of India economically, culturally, and in every other imaginable way. If only they had Alladin’s magic lamp, they would have wished for the Muslims’ disappearance! No wonder they do not wish to consider the more complex question of balancing the rights of all beef- and meat-eating people with the rights of animals which are meant to be slaughtered.

It is quite unlikely however, that such careful reflection will emerge from the present rulers.  Why? Because it requires a deep commitment to democracy which means concern for rights of all groups of people; secondly, there must be genuine respect for animals as deserving of rights. But this rightwing government and its Hindutva adherents have no love for anyone other than themselves, human or animal. The playing of the animal rights card in stopping the cattle exports to Kerala from Tamil Nadu is just an excuse. When people blame Islamic countries for having very strict Islamic rules, they must remember that our country is also turning into a place run by rigid ‘Hindu rules’ framed by the Hindutvavaadis.

Sriranjini R is a higher secondary school student in Thiruvananthapuram. She is interested in human rights, animal rights, and the environment.

28 thoughts on “Animal rights or Hindutva Wrongs? Sriranjini R

  1. ANITHA

    Persuasive and strong writing. Congrats,Sriranjini.We need more 17 year olds like you!!
    Keep writing and connecting events

  2. Pradipta Basu

    No wonder these (I am refraining from using any adjective here in case I lose control over myself) politicians are now messing with our education system. The more they can keep the masses in the darkness of unscientific lies and superstitions, the more powerful will they become. Of course, this holds good for all forms of religious fanaticism based either on a caged mindset (the blind, uneducated but honest believer) or on a cunning thirst for power. On the other hand, this unfortunate situation has become more accentuated over time as we have always had a so-called power-wielding middle class (bureaucrats and babus) who always felt it was/is below their dignity to connect with the “non-westernized” masses.

  3. Roby Rajan

    Sriranjini, My eyes popped out when I got to the end of your wonderfully insightful article and discovered you were only a higher secondary student! Your piece gets to the very heart of how the Hindutvavadis want to cynically manipulate longstanding dietary customs in the service of their hate-filled ideology. Kerala is the last redoubt in the country against these sickos; if Kerala falls, they will have secured complete dominion over the land. I am curious how susceptible your peers and others of your age are to this ideology. Although the BJP only placed third in the recent Aruvikkara assembly by-elections, some analysts say they were able to increase their vote-share considerably because many young people in the constituency voted for the BJP. Is your generation in Kerala being silently groomed to become foot-soldiers of Hindutva? Any light you could shed on this deeply troubling question would be extremely helpful. Thank you again for your wonderful article.

    1. Sriranjini

      Thank you for the compliment but I must say that my language was edited by the kafila admins, a big thanks goes to them. What I have heard from my peers who support BJP is that they are attracted to Narendra Modi who is being projected as ‘India’s superman’ by the media. These are people who see the world through the media and don’t have a chance to see the world through any other way, especially the middle-class children who are forced into technical education and have to run from tuition to tuition. Gladly, I don’t have to undergo that psychological terrorising as I am home schooled! And all the techies adore Narendra Modi. They don’t even see the connection between him and the Hindutva loonies. In Kerala especially, none of the political parties or social movements give the students any social and gender freedoms. So the young people don’t have anything to choose. So they just stay apolitical or follow what their community people choose. For instance, when people attended the Kiss of Love protest, all parties ganged up to punish them. Which clearly shows that there is nothing to choose. So they choose BJP because it seems to be a party with power and a very manipulative one too. The bottom line is that they are extremely confused. They will not be supportive of dietary restrictions but they still will support BJP because they think Narendra Modi will control these fellows. The connection between the Hindutva elements and Narendra Modi seems invisible to them. Also Narendra Modi’s catchy phrase ‘Aap ki baar Modi sarkar’ was something that gave the young people an adrenaline rush. It is quite sad that he could not use his charismatic powers for better purposes.

      1. Roby Rajan

        Thank you, Sriranjini, for another set of incisive remarks about the politics — or the lack of it! — among middle-class youth in Kerala. Your diagnosis is spot-on: the “psychological terrorism” (as you so accurately put it!) of the scramble for admissions, tuition, and all the rest. When these kids grow up, their entire life-ambition will be to replicate what their parents did — except that the house must be grander, the cars they drive fancier, the bank-balance fatter, the dowry bigger! And all for what? So that they can raise the next generation of the psychologically terrorized! (Incidentally, you happen to be very lucky to have the parents you do!) I went back and re-read your original essay, and have one minor remark to add: if the Hindutvavadis did manage to get their hands on Alladin’s lamp and made all the Muslims disappear, they would desperately be searching for a new target. Without a group to direct their hatred at, these so-called “Hindus” would be reduced to nothing — because the entire substance of their “religion” is hatred!

  4. Malavika

    Brilliantly written Kunjammu! You have put across the issue in such a clear manner and also uncovered the hypocrisy behind the facade of animal rights put up by the hindutva brigade. I especially love how in the conclusion you have stressed on the need for a democratic spirit that has space for both human as well as animal rights.

  5. anil

    The article should be picked up by all news papers and magzines. At such an young age such thoughts and courage speaks volume about the girl. We proud of you, and our future is safe as long as girl like you are there. keep writing and enlightening us. We all bless you. And by the way the article is a slap on the face of Hindu fanatics, RSS and also BJP.

    1. Also, one would hope that you stay safe, hopefully with your identity unrevealed. If you have read Farenheit 451, the picture your give us sounds somewhat similar – fortunately there is still a Utopia in the minds of young people such as yourself.

  6. Jayant

    A very nice article. Well written and strong in its convictions. The latter point, a bit unusually so, and–please do not be offended by this–I believe indicative of your youth. But well done, and I hope to read a lot from you in the future.

  7. It is certainly praiseworthy that even high school students are
    taking interest in national matters and trying to analyze the
    motivations of religious groups.

    However, sadly, my praise for this article cannot be completely
    unqualified. Here
    is a picture (from The Hindu) of one of the cattle
    lorries. If the way cows are cramped in this picture is not a
    clear indication of the traders breaking all rules of ethical
    treatment of animals, then I do not know what is. Yet, the author
    seems to gladly accede to the traders’ uncorroborated claim (surely completely unaffected by any conflicts of interest) that
    the cattle are being “mistreated” in Goshalas. I doubt any cow
    shed in rural India could be half as bad as that cattle lorry.

    Sometimes, people whose ideologies are reprehensible to us might
    still do something right. I don’t know what sort of an
    organization the HMK is, but I am willing to believe the author
    that it is a hate-mongering institution of the same sort as
    Bajrang Dal or Owassi’s MIM. Still, if it manages to bring
    attention to this clear abuse of animal rights, then it is simply
    a travesty of logic to try to minimize this particular case by
    weak appeals to “whataboutism“.
    Why discard the message just because you do not like the
    messenger? Giving far too much importance to ideology, to the extend of perpetrating a sort of “ideological tribalism” where everyone who happens to nod to your ideology is a saint and anybody who dissents is a demon, is probably the biggest evil in our political system today, and it is sad to see even young people falling for this easy route of labeling everyone as “us” and “them”.

    However, I should again congratulate the author for bringing to light the abuse of animal rights in Kerala.

    1. Sriranjini

      First of all, I am not saying that Animals Rights are a waste of time. The main intention of this article was to show how the animal rights are being used inappropriately. If the HMK was interested in preventing the on going animal rights violation, first they should have done it in the legal democratic way instead of physically blocking the traders. Why didn’t they do that first? I do not know if you are genuinely interested in animal rights, but knowingly or unknowingly you are joining hands with the Hindutva position, by mentioning only the case of cattle. As I mentioned in the article, chickens are also being brought to Kerala from Tamil Nadu very violently. Why isn’t the HMK blocking that? Is the action of HMK a message? It is actually the misuse of a message for nefarious purposes. If the assertions made by the HMK can be absorbed and accepted, why can’t the assertions made by the traders be absorbed and accepted? The traders made no claims of treating the cattle offering them roses and rose water. We know that the traders are bringing the cattle for butchering. My question to you is why do you trust the HMK so much even if there is no evidence of HMK having any interest in protecting animals ever in their history when HIndutvavadis including the HMK have indeed history of condoning violence against Muslims and Christians all over the country.

      The terms ‘us’ and ‘them’ have no relevance in this article because animal rights activists and vegetarians have some points in common with some Hindu ideologies. But they cannot be superficially in common. What I am trying to say is that animal rights and Hindutva promotions are not and should not go together because after some time animal rights will be subject to the Hindutva promotion.

      1. If you read my comment, you will find that I did not take the HMK’s comments at face value (unlike what you seem to do with the traders’ comments in your article). Indeed, I said that that I was willing believe you they they were a reactionary organization of the same sort as Bajrang Dal or the MIM.

        What I did instead was to link to the original article, which showed that the cattle were indeed treated inhumanely by the traders. Perhaps you should consider why you are so willing to trust the traders in the presence of independent evidence that goes against their claims. “Offering them roses and eater” is a far cry from treating the cattle humanely: the only way the traders can justify themselves is by showing that they were treating the cattle humanely before the slaughter (which is what you implicitly assume in the article). If they were not, then the concerns of any organization, religious or otherwise, about the inhumane treatment of animals are fully justified.

        I find the last paragraph of your reply a bit baffling, and indeed another case of the “what about?” fallacy. Just because some reprehensible organizations argue for the rights of some animals does not mean that respectable animal rights organizations should not uphold the right of those animals. Expose the reprehensible organizations for their crimes as much as you can, but don’t throw the cattle under the bus (or on an inhumanely crowded lorry) just because one of their supporters had a history of trying to spread communal disharmony.

        1. jdevika

          Yes, you may agree that the HMK is reactionary, but that does not mean that your position might not fall in line with theirs. I’d think that animal rights activists who believe that their pacifism is actually in line with the ‘pacifism’ of the HMK are either terribly naive or concealing their Hindu right wing colours under the not-necessarily- Hindtuva-vaadi cloak of animal rights. This article, as I read it, is trying to distinguish between the two. You seem to be bent on establishing that the article trashes concern for animal rights because it condemns the HMK’s misuse of that discourse when it clearly is not doing that, and I can’t help saying that I smell a rat there. The whataboutism you mention is strictly limited too. First, the author I thought was pointing to a strictly limited agenda of animal protection circumscribed by a strictly limited understanding of revered animals in Hindu faith. Secondly, what you perceive as a tu quoque argument here is actually something else: here she is arguing that the HMK’s history of misconduct as well as its present behaviour makes it ethically too weak to demand ethically high standards from others. It is an ethical argument, not a logical one. And I don’t think too that she was saying that the traders are humane: in fact she was saying that the traders have never made claims to be humane, and so they are more believable that the HMK which now advances pacifist positions concealing the history of their affiliations with violent and hate-filled right wing politics. From the way animal rights activists in the country feel that they have found an ‘opportunity’, finally to ride somehow, minimally, on the policies of the present anti-democratic, anti-minority, brutal right-wing dominated government, it appears to me that that they are really, really apolitical and even more pathetically naive.

          1. Roby Rajan

            Sriranjini’s original article is a brilliant exercise in the traditional Indian argumentative technique of purvapaksha where one anticipates the opponent’s counter-arguments, and critiques them as part of one’s original argument. In this case, everything Ahannasmi is saying has already been anticipated by Sriranjini — and already responded to in her original piece! Instead of shifting the argument to a higher level as a keen practitioner of purvapaksha would do, he is unfortunately rehearsing over and over again the very points Sriranjini has already refuted at the very beginning of her article. Indeed, it is he who is a consummate practitioner of “whataboutism” — notice the casual introduction of “Owaisi’s MIM” into this discussion (where it clearly doesn’t belong) and the accompanying display of fake neutrality by “balancing” it with a mention of Bajrang Dal! Nice try, Ahannasmi, but in your case the messenger is far more interesting to analyze than the message!

          2. That’s the crux of the argument: why are the traders “more believable” when opposite independent evidence is available? (Note that you have no argument for this except the rather dubious one that since the traders have never claimed to be inhumane we must believe them when they say that they are more humane than the goshalas, even when photographic evidence casts doubt on it).

            HMK might be ethically “too weak” to demand ethical treatment from others by itself, but the fact that they demanded such treatment from traders does not somehow automatically make the traders immune to criticism from others. Unfortunately, however, both you and the article seem to be claiming that since it is the HMK, with its checkered past, that has brought to light the inhumane treatment of cattle by the traders, it behooves us to support the traders in whatever they are doing, and concentrate only on other animal right issues that have not been brought up by the HMK. It is not hard to see what is alarmingly wrong with that kind of thinking. The Nazis were apparently among the first to strictly regulate tobacco consumption. Should the world simply have turned a blind eye to the scourge of tobacco induced lung cancer just because the reprehensible Nazis had taken up that cause?

            By deciding which animal rights issues to support based on the policies of the current government, aren’t you falling the same trap as HMK? As you say, the HMK has little time for other animal rights issues since they are not crucial for their religious beliefs. What you are arguing for is that since HMK is supporting animal rights for cows, we should stand against that campaign. Such enemey-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend arguments are neither ethical nor logical. They are merely Machiavellian.

            1. Tasweer

              Dear Ahannasmi,
              Reading your comments made me realize that you have some sort of hatred or disbelief towards the traders since the author mentioned about the Goshalas. As a Gujarati, Goshalas are not a new thing for me. I haven’t seen much cows in the Goshalas, at least when I was still staying in Gujarat which was till last month.

              Yes the traders have never claimed to be taking good care of their cattle which makes their word more believable because they are the ones who shove the cows into the trucks and drive all the way from Tamil Nadu to Kerala through public roads (I do not think there are private secret roads specially made for the traders to hide their evil act of making the cows suffer.) So the need for the traders to lie is low because all the people see and know how they are being transported. And about the photographic evidence of the Goshalas, it is not trustworthy because we all know what Narendra Modi’s ‘Gujarat’ looked like and what normal people’s looked like. If you don’t, let me tell you. Narendra Modi’s photographic version of Gujarat was very clean and developed. The real Gujarat was the same as what it was before Narendra Modi’s rule. Well you may argue that all photographs should be like that. That is a good argument and I agree. But is it valid here? No because we don’t even know if the photographs are of the real Goshalas. And please stop rounding around Goshalas. The article is not about how bad the Goshalas are or how holy and pure the traders are.

              Yes treating the cattle awfully is not a good thing. But did the author mention that you should treat the cattle bad because she opposes HMK in any way in the article? No. Did the article ask us to support the traders to treat the cattle inhumanely? No. You made that up in your mind. And Nazis, did you know that the Nazis had vegetarian supporters? Nobody raised their voice against vegetarianism because the Nazi’s had vegetarian supporters. Nazi’s also had music lovers nobody stopped making music or hearing them because the there were people who loved music in the Nazi. So that argument of yours looks not-so-valid.

              In the article, the author is mentioning those specific animals because they are also being worshiped in the the Hindutva community. I am pretty sure Sriranjini is not mentioning those because she has a little more love for them. Even those animals; if you didn’t read the article well (it seems so) elephants,dogs,snakes are the the ones being mentioned. Why doesn’t the HMK try to stand up for them? You can say that HMK is fully about animal rights and not Hindutva beliefs, that doesn’t change the fact that the HMK is not standing up for those animals and also since HMK is devoted to animal rights, chickens, goats etc can be added.

              The question that the author is asking is why the HMK or any Hindutva organization is supporting and standing up for cattle and only cattle? Hence it makes it completely ethical and logical.

              I may not be as intelligent or anything as much as you are, but I feel like you are rolling in the same subjects;Goshalas and HMK just because you think HMK is some godly organization for physically threatening and blocking the traders (liars, as per you) and glamorously saving the cattle. Which kind of makes you a person with saffron tied hands.

              1. And yet we see someone trying first to label me as something I am not and dismissing my arguments just based on that ad hominem. Exactly the “us vs them” mentality I was pointing out above: once you have labelled me as a “saffron tied hands” (whatever that might mean) you start by misrepresenting all of my arguments, without exception, in your comment. For example, unlike what you seem to have read in my comments, I never claimed that HMK is not a rabid Hindutva organization, in fact I said I agree with the author that it might be in the same league as Bajrang Dal on that count. What I claimed, and what you make no attempt to refute, is that just because Nazis (or the HMK) supported tobacco bans or vegetarianism, does not automatically make tobacco bans or vegetarianism “untouchable topics”.

                I never claimed that the author is claiming that we should treat the cattle badly (that is something, to use your own quaint terminology, “you made up in your mind”). What I claimed in my comments, and what the author is clearly doing in the article, is (in increasing order of importance) (1) to take the traders at face value in their claim that the cattle are worse off in the “Goshalas”, without trying to independently corroborate that claim, (2) ignoring the evidence of the conditions in which the traders themselves transport cattle, and (3) implying that since HMK is active on the cattle issue, it behooves animal rights activists to stay away from it and concentrate on other issues. This also rings out in jdevika’s reply to my comment. Note also that the author or jdevika are not saying that the traders are not tormenting the cattle, but just that animal rights activists should be somehow less insistent on this topic lest they turn out to be on the same side of the issue as HMK.

                This last point is what I have my gravest disagreement with. I do not deny for a moment that the HMK is a rabid, religious group with a checkered history and is hypocritical in its highlighting of only one animal rights issue, that of the cattle. But that does not mean that we need to “go slow” on a real issue just because HMK supported it. As you rightly pointed out (and in fact, that is what I was pointing out), no one gave up on vegetarianism or music or tobacco control just because the Nazis supported these things. It should not matter to us who are the people supporting a cause, as long as the cause itself is justified. We can keep opposing the HMK with all our might, while still supporting animal rights for cows. If, on the other hand, we decide to “go slow” on the cattle issue on the ground that HMK is supporting it, then, at least on the scale of how hypocritical we are willing to be for the sake of ideology, there remains little difference between us and HMK.

        2. Sreejith

          When someone condemns LTTE, does one comment that instead one should look at the plight of tamils(unless you are a sympathiser)
          When someone condemns taliban, does one comment that instead one should look at the plight of afghans. (unless you are a sympathiser)
          When someone condemns saffron terror groups, does one comment that instead one should look at the plight of cows, hetrosexuals, vegetarians, disadvantage of being upper caste hindu etc (unless you are sympathiser).

  8. I never claimed, unlike what Tasweer says, that the author is asking us to treat the cattle badly (Tasweer: that is something, to use your own quaint terminology, “you made up in your mind”). What I claimed in my comments, and what the author is clearly doing in the article, is (in increasing order of importance) (1) to take the traders at face value in their claim that the cattle are worse off in the “Goshalas”, without trying to independently corroborate that claim, (2) ignoring the evidence of the conditions in which the traders themselves transport cattle,and (3) implying that since HMK is active on the cattle issue, it behooves animal rights activists to stay away from it and concentrate on other issues. This also rings out in jdevika’s reply to my comment. Note also that the author or jdevika are not saying that the traders are not tormenting the cattle, but just that animal rights activists should be somehow less insistent on this topic lest they turn out to be on the same side of the issue as HMK.

    This last point is what I have my gravest disagreement with. I do not deny for a moment that the HMK is a rabid, religious group with a checkered history and is hypocritical in its highlighting of only one animal rights issue, that of the cattle. But that does not mean that we need to “go slow” on a real issue just because HMK supported it. As Tasweer rightly pointed out (and in fact, that is what I was pointing out), no one gave up on vegetarianism or music or tobacco control just because the Nazis supported these things. It should not matter to us who are the people supporting a cause, as long as the cause itself is justified. We can keep opposing the HMK with all our might, while still supporting animal rights for cows. If, on the other hand,we decide to “go slow” on the cattle issue on the ground that HMK is supporting it, then, at least on the scale of how hypocritical we are willing to be for the sake of ideology, there remains little difference between us and HMK.

    There is another interesting aside here: I see at least some comments above (Roby Rajan’s and Tasweer, and to a much smaller extent, Sreejith) who first try to label me as something I am not and and then either dismiss (in the case of Roby Rajan) or misrepresent (in the case of Sreejith and Tasweer) my arguments based on that ad hominem. This is exactly the “us vs them” mentality I was pointing out above: once they have labeled me as someone with “saffron tied hands” (to use Tasweer’s words,whatever they might mean) they find no need to honestly engage my arguments.

    For example, unlike what Tasweer seems to have read in my comments, I never claimed that HMK is not a rabid Hindutva organization, in fact I said that I agree with the author that it might be in the same league as Bajrang Dal on that count. What I claimed, and what Tasweer makes no attempt to refute, is that just because Nazis (or the HMK) supported tobacco bans or vegetarianism, does not automatically make tobacco bans or vegetarianism “untouchable topics”.

    Similarly, I am still waiting for Roby Rajan to point out where exactly I indulged in “whataboutism”. I did point out that animal rights supporters should try to avoid falling into the same trap of ideologically induced hypocrisy as the HMK has done (and as I said, I commend the author for so beautifully describing this hypocrisy), but this is hardly “whataboutism”. Sreejith has an interesting analogy, but he fails to see that this situation, though not as extreme as in either his analogy or the one to follow, is rather different: this article is about animal rights and not about HMK. To use his analogy, it is not as if someone wrote an article about LTTE without describing the plight of Tamils. The situation here is a bit like (though, I hasten to reiterate, not nearly as extreme as) someone writing an article about war crimes and starting it with the claim that since the Tamil cause was supportedm at least superficially, by LTTE, which is clearly a reprehensible terrorist organization, we should take whatever the Sri Lankan armed forces say at face value and concentrate only on other war crime allegations.

    1. jdevika

      You are merely repeating what you said and simply continuing to reassert your misreadings of all the other participants in this debate and the author. You may not be a HMK fan but you certainly are on its side inadvertently or perhaps silently -precisely because of your insistence on misreading otĥers despite their clarifications. Your positions mark your politics, not your denials and claims regarding intention.

  9. Roby Rajan

    Ahannasmi, Do I really have to clarify where exactly you indulged in whataboutism ? Here we are discussing “Animal Rights or Hindutva Wrongs” (the title of Sriranjini’s original piece) in this forum, and you couldn’t resist a mention of “Owaisi’s MIM” using that timeworn Hindutva whataboutist tactic anytime their own extremism is challenged: What about ‘Muslim extremists’?

    The topic under discussion here has NOTHING to do with “Owaisi’s MIM”, Ahannasmi ! A lot of ink has been spilled on that particular topic elsewhere. Every discussion in the universe doesn’t have to bring in some side-reference or other to “Islamic extremism”. Here, we are talking about beef, not “Owaisi’s MIM”! I suggest you get over your obsession with “Owaisi’s MIM”, abandon such whataboutist tactics, and try your hand at the technique of purvapaksha which Sriranjini used so effectively in her article!

    And like it or not, Ahannasmi, ALL Malayalis — Hindus, Muslims, and Christians — are united in their LOVE FOR BEEF! We consider the right to eat BEEF-FRY and BEEF-CURRY a basic human right, thank you very much!

    1. jdevika

      Also. I have been reading comments made in this same name on other posts. Well, for all this person’s loud protestations, its hard to conceal a cultural rightwinger.

  10. jdevika

    I think other commentators have spent enough time pointing out the flaws in your arguments while you have responded by (a) statements which begin with ‘ Iam not A …’ (b) or questions like ‘Where have I used the word … ?’ Both which show up your poor understanding of textual analysis. Secondly, we have sougjt in many different ways to point to your persistent misreading of others which seeks to establish that they are against animal rights because they oppose the HMK’s actions in the name of animal rights. I think there isn’t any substance in your claim that no one has engaged with you. We have, enough, and we all have many other important things in our lives thant ride the merry go round with you. I am pretty certain that you are an intellectual rightwinger and if you can’t figure out what that means for yourself, then maybe you should quit jabbing accusing fingers at others and make an effort to find out. Yes, Kafila is not a space for Hindutva rightwingers, whether intentional, semi-intentional, or otherwise. You have no desire for debate for all you do is (a) bristle defensively (b) misread others deliberately (c) play the injured innocent when others read past your stated intentions and read your arguments critically. I am sorry, but you should stop bugging us. It won’t help.

    1. Dinakaran

      Half clever right wingers should enter the portals of Kafila, for sure. To get these fine responses from others. And may be some day,perhaps, they will realise the sheer defeatism inherent in their pet obsessions !

  11. Jayant

    Wow, I cannot believe that I am once again about to side with Ahannasmi on Kafila. I find that his (or her) points are sensible, and at the very least worthy of being debated (and quite possibly refuted) without ad hominem attacks. Leaving aside all the egocentric argument and counter-argument (which includes all the names flying around), the central point is I believe quite reasonable, that one shouldn’t _not_ oppose something that one finds objectionable simply because it is also opposed by someone whom one finds reprehensible in every other way.

    What I find most regrettable in the whole matter is how clear it is often made on Kafila (nowadays?) that contrary views are not welcome. Specially, perhaps, if they are voiced by people like Ahannasmi with a history of dissenting opinion (and perhaps an objectionable manner of expressing them). Even in the latter case, though, shouldn’t the argument be judged in and of itself? The debate ought to focus less on Ahannasmi’s alleged ideological affiliation than on whether cattle are mistreated by cattle dealers, and if they are, whether opposing this mistreatment is an objectionable act, no matter by whom it is carried out.

    All of this comes from someone who found the original article praiseworthy. Also, since I am rather anxious to avoid a similar fate as Ahannasmi’s in being labelled a Hindutva right-winger–and taking a leaf from Roby Rajan’s “purvapaksha” book–I should state unequivocally that I do believe that eating beef is no different from eating goat, that I have eaten beef many a time in the past and shall continue to do so, and that I find the current national government a dangerous mix of short-sightedness, manipulative ability and evil that has already done immense harm to the country and will continue to do so. My point, though, is that nothing in this paragraph ought to add to, or take away from, what I have said in the preceding ones. I look forward to–or hope in vain for–the day when that becomes the usual practice in Kafila.

    1. Roby Rajan

      Sorry to disappoint you, Jayant, but purvapaksha does not mean making some sort of initial personal confession with the aim of disarming the debating opponent, and then continuing with business as usual as if the opponent’s arguments never existed ! Purvapaksha means, first of all, understanding the opponent’s arguments, and secondly, to explicitly factor them in advance while developing one’s own argument — just as Sriranjini’s original piece did. When confronting a keen practitioner of purvapaksha, an opponent reveals his mediocrity if his only response consists in recycling the very arguments that had already been anticipated and dealt with in the purvapaksha — as if these were novel lines of argumentation.

      Ahannasmi is of course indulging in garden-variety Hindutva whataboutism in which one cannot discuss a single topic in the universe without some oblique reference or other to “Islamic extremism” (“whatabout Owaisi’s MIM”!). But what makes his interventions an exercise in tedium is not his ideological leanings, it’s his inability to match Sriranjini’s initial purvapaksha salvo — because of which he is forced to keep going in circles and repeating the same lines ad nauseam.

      Your own charming confession of having eaten goat (and beef to boot!) is a little different. It is a variation on the old “some of my best friends are black” theme, which then licenses the declarer to engage in the most vicious racist acts and utterances. After all, some of his best friends are black!

      So also with you, Jayant, it doesn’t matter a whit to the argument being conducted here whether you have eaten beef or goat or chicken or quail or bison. All that matters is whether you can match Sriranjini in her purvapaksha. I’ll leave you to be the judge of that.

      But however you answer that question to yourself, it occurred to me that perhaps you have had badly made beef. You and Ahannasmi really should consider taking a trip down to Kerala. I would be happy to treat both of you to a full three-course meal with BEEF-FRY, BEEF CURRY, and CHILLY BEEF — all Malloo favourites. Enough of whataboutism, howaboutit ?!

  12. Praveen.O.M.

    Sister,
    To understand the significance of cow protection u should travel at least once outside Kerala.If killing of one animal hurts religious sentiments of significant population of our country why can’t it be avoided. Cow protection is effective way to consolidate Hindu society which is otherwise divided. It will act as like Ram nam. The purpose of cow protection is not to hurt anyone , but to strengthen us and bind emotionally ….

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