From the ever increasing numbers of violent crimes against women and growing intolerance towards animals and horrific animal abuse, we are forced to conclude that pervasive national insensitivity and non-response to both visible and invisible violence against animals and nature (ecology/environment) leads inevitably to increasing violence against women, the elderly and eventually children. Nirbhaya in 2012, Swathi and now Karuna in 2016, read together with Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) sanctioning mass killing of wild boars in Uttarakhand, monkeys in Shimla and nilgai in Bihar and recently clearing the inter-linking of the Ken-Betwa river project which will submerge 100 sq.kms of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh besides contemplating amending the PCA Act 1960 to permit Jallikattu and other sport using bulls - there is visible degeneration in the national character as we seem to be losing our individual and collective sense of compassion and caring compounded by cowardice in the face of violence against women when Swathi and Karuna were killed in full public view with no one stepping forward to stop and physically bring down the killers. As a nation we have also lost our sense of responsibility to protect, nurture and conserve nature or ‘prakriti’ as these become hurdles to ‘development’ which has become synonymous with violence against animals, rivers and river-beds, our extensive coastal line, water bodies, trees, forests and mountains.
This is both tragic and unforgivable considering that we have inherited Hindu dharma’s unique worldview which doesn’t simply believe but knows all Creation to be divine and therefore sacred. When Hindus philosophise trade-offs, when Hindus become cowards and uncaring, this timeless civilization will inevitably become Abrahamic because of the choices governments and people make for ‘development’.
There are several animal rights and animal well-being cases currently being heard in different courts of the country. The Madras High Court is hearing a case concerning temple cows and goshalas and temple elephants in government administered HR&CE temples; the Madras High Court is also hearing a case which seeks ban on camel slaughter during Bakrid. The fate of street dogs in Kerala which wants to exterminate them, the tragic life of captive elephants in holiday resorts and places of worship, and the case for and against jallikattu, rekla and kambala are currently pending in the Supreme Court. While jallikattu supporters in Tamil Nadu will not lift their little finger to restore bulls in agriculture or to stop cattle trafficking to Kerala, they nevertheless work themselves up into manic rage because the Supreme Court banned jallikattu and the Madras High Court refused to ignore the appalling living conditions and pervasive physical abuse of captive elephants in our temples.
Jallikattu is an anachronistic masculine sport using bulls for entertainment in a man’s world. It is an unchallenged masculine belief that what separates man from animal – superior sentience, mind, reason and rationality are also the boundaries between man and woman with ‘objectivity’ (guided by superior masculine reason and rationality as opposed to emotion-driven subjectivity in women) thrown in for good measure to tip the scales down on the side of man. When the Supreme Court banned jallikattu and the Madras High Court was turning a stern eye towards temple animals, frustrated jallikattu supporters piggybacked on temple elephants and cried “Hindu customs and tradition in danger”. The vile abuse, obscene and foul language that jallikattu supporters have directed against animal activists should make us ask, “whose culture, whose tradition and from whose point of view”? Jallikattu supporters launched public protests in Tiruchy and Chennai against actor Rajnikant’s daughter Soundarya for accepting to be Brand Ambassador for the Animal Welfare Board of India which challenged in the Supreme Court the January 8, 2016 MoEF&CC notification permitting jallikattu. The January 2016 notification overrode the July 2011 notification and ignored the SC order of May 2014 banning the violent sport. Violence, it would seem is endemic in a man’s world and violence against animals and nature is demonstrably linked to violence against women.
In the last three months alone, more than ten wild elephants including elephant calves have died in Tamil Nadu; several temple elephants have also died painful deaths because of criminal dereliction of duty on the part of government departments responsible for captive elephants;
Twenty-four year old Swathi, employed with Infosys, was fatally hacked with a sickle at 6.30 in the morning on a busy suburban railway platform in Chennai by a self-obsessed man who could not take ‘no’ for answer, and was left to die a slow and painful death as she bled out;
A six year old girl child was raped and murdered and her body stuffed in a large cooking vessel in Mettur in Tamil Nadu;
On 20th September, a young school teacher in Delhi, Karuna, aged just 21 years died a horrific violent death when she was stabbed 32 times by a man 13 years older in age and a divorcee to boot, because Karuna rejected his advances;
A dog was thrown off a hostel terrace “for fun” by two men studying to be doctors in a medical college in Chennai;
On September 9, 41 dogs were killed in the Tamil Nadu BHEL Ranipet Township premises through lethal injection; in recent times Tamil Nadu is going the Kerala way and there have been several instances of mass killing of street dogs only because there is a general climate of intolerance and violence towards animals and the Tamil Nadu government does not see fit to convict and jail animal killers and animal abusers who pay a paltry fine and/or are let off on bail within 24 hours of the crime;
I almost stepped on what I first thought was a dead snake; its head was broken open, one of its eyes had popped out, its underbelly had a 2 inch tear. The snake was lying still outside a school. When I picked it up to lay it to rest with dignity, I was horrified when it wriggled weakly in my arms. Schoolboys who had beaten the poor snake with such violence should have at the very least made sure they killed it. Instead, the snake was still alive, with a broken head, an eye that had popped out from the blows to its head, a torn underbelly...and we say children are innocent, children are godly.
When men abuse women and animals routinely and with impunity, when meat shops hang with their tails still intact, the dead bodies of once live animals in full public view seen even by children, when children are raised on a meat diet, when Hindus, Muslims and Christians slaughter animals in the name of their religion, society must be prepared to see and live with the consequences of how it impacts children growing up in an insensitive and de-sensitised environment which is devoid of compassion and kindness and the effect this growing insensitivity has on the nation’s soul and character. We already see the results as more and more rapists and other criminals have been found to be minors or young adults in their early twenties. Children and young people in their teens will not only become victims of violent crime but will also take to crime at a very young age;
“In this Storify from Oct 2014, Abhinav Aggarwal had analyzed a petition filed by 11 Muslims who had sought orders to allow the sacrifice of animals bigger than goats in housing societies and temporary slaughterhouses in the city. The Mumbai HC had rejected the petition ruling ‘No cattle sacrifice in housing societies for now. ‘He had questioned why this attempt to legalize public brutality and expose young children to the sights of animals throats being slit, blood flowing all around, was not met with horror and outright condemnation. He had rightly warned that any legal precedent that permits the slaughter of animals in housing societies will drive a schism between communities and eventually end up driving away all non-Muslims from such societies. Those fears seem to be coming true as yesterday’s Quint article ‘Don’t Slaughter Goats Inside My Housing Society’ shows. There, Antonette Pinto, a resident of a Kurla, Mumbai housing society describes the horror and helplessness she felt when her Muslim neighbours slaughtered over 200 goats on Eid al-Adha within the society. She says that police refused to intervene and media showed little interest as ‘a story of this nature might create unnecessary religious tension.’ This is what she had to experience –“One after another reluctant goats were dragged inside the tent and the screaming continued. In fact, I can hear them as I write this piece. Children of non-Muslims families haven’t dared to step out of their homes all day. A part of the tent is open, so one can see blood and flesh from all the slaughtering. But the worst part is the horrible smell emanating from this make-shift slaughterhouse.” http://www.hindupost.in/news/mumbai-high-court-approves-ritual-eid-slaughter-in-housing-societies/
To make matters worse, Modi’s government has prepared a draft amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960 to keep jallikattu bulls out of the purview of what constitutes “cruelty” under the PCA Act – just as we have kept out animals we slaughter for food and for religious sacrifice, and animals we use for research in science out of the purview of the PCA Act in the name of “Doctrine of Necessity”.
What is Doctrine of Necessity?
The PCA Act, 1960 came into being ostensibly as an animal welfare law to prevent animal abuse, cruelty and suffering. However, the PCA Act does not protect animals from all forms of cruelty and from unqualified cruelty. Notwithstanding Hindu civilisational tradition in which all things in Creation, sentient and non-sentient, are sacred, Indian Parliament legislated to make only “unnecessary pain and suffering” unlawful. The PCA Act which is full of explicitly stated “unnecessary pain and suffering” by implication (it did not dare to say so explicitly) permitted humans to inflict “necessary pain and suffering” upon animals; the bottom-line being even if humans inflict the most abhorrent forms of cruelty when they cause legally sanctioned “necessary pain and suffering” to animals killed for food, for religious sacrifice and for scientific experiments, the PCA Act and our courts cannot protect these animals. This is the so-far unchallenged, unquestioned Doctrine of Necessity which negates and rejects the inherent sanctity of non-human animals; this is species-ism at its worst. Doctrine of Necessity is man arrogating to himself the right to “use” animals in his self-interest; it is essentially Abrahamic in character and out of place in this land of eternal dharma. Species-ism is contradictory to sanathana dharma or Hinduism.
Why the PCA Act, 1960 must be strengthened and not weakened further
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 permits -
1. Through Section 11 (3) (a), horrific and “necessary” cruelty during dehorning cattle, castration where farmers and cattle owners grind the testicles of bulls without sedating or anaesthetizing the animal, branding, and nose-roping which involves piercing the soft tissue and cartilage of the nostrils of cows, calves, bulls and buffalo despite other painless methods to rope them;
2. Governments hiding behind the legal comfort of Section 11 (3) (c) to declare any animal to be vermin which can be mass killed. “Nothing in this section shall apply to the extermination or destruction of any animal under the authority of any law for the time being in force”;
3. Governments to sanction, through Section 14 of the PCA Act, 1960 the use of animals in scientific experiments; Section 14 of the PCA Act suffused with pious intentions, says, “Nothing contained in this Act shall render unlawful the performance of experiments (including experiments involving operations) on animals for the purpose of advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge or of knowledge which will be useful for saving or for prolonging life or alleviating suffering or for combating any disease, whether of human beings, animals or plants.
Section 14 of the PCA Act contradicts itself in entirety because the animals we use in these experiments are not saved, their lives are not prolonged, and far from alleviating their suffering, we cause them extreme suffering and far from combating disease, we induce these very diseases into the very animals we claim we want to save.
• Section 28 of the PCA Act implicitly (yet again, not explicitly and without naming the community or its method of killing) guarantees people to kill animals in the method prescribed by their religion. This of course refers to ‘halal’ killing by slitting the throat of the animal and leaving it to die a slow, painful death as it remains conscious and sees itself bleeding to death. Section 28 says, “Saving as respects manner of killing prescribed by religion: Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community”.
This was vintage Nehruvian secularism playing at politics of minority-ism using the “religion” card. While the BJP government at the centre has not moved even half a foot towards stopping religious sacrifice, towards reversing the country’s meat export, beef export, meat production, halal killing for food and during Eid, it has however prepared a draft amendment to the PCA Act to permit jallikattu! Prime Minister Modi must know that if his government indeed goes through with weakening the PCA ACT further by exempting jallikattu bulls from the purview of “unnecessary” cruelty, pain and suffering described in the PCA Act, it will only be sanctioning abuse of jallikattu bulls as “necessary” pain and suffering, all in the name of custom and tradition. This will be yet another injury to the soul of the nation.
The draft amendment to the PCA Act, drafted on 15-06-2016 and circulated for comments within the administration on 30-06-2016 reads thus:
2. Having given the background in para 2 (2.1 to 2.5) of the ...(not clear ), the administrative Ministry has proposed for introducing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament for amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as under:
(i) Amend the relevant portions of the PCA Act, 1960 to increase the fine for infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering in animals to make it more deterrent.
(ii) To insert a new sub section (iii) after sub section (ii) of Section 22 of the PCA Act, 1960 as under.
(iii) Any animal notified in the official gazette in exercise of the powers conferred under sub section (ii) of Section 22 of the Act shall continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal at events, in a manner prescribed by the religion of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs of or as a part of culture, in any part of the country. These events may, inter-alia, include Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and Bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala, Gujarat etc.
Provided that event so organized shall be held with prior approval of the District Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and State Animal Welfare Board ensuring that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused in any manner whatsoever during the course of events so organized.
3. Accordingly, approval of the Cabinet has been solicited for introduction of the “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (at Annexure II) in Parliament for effecting suitable amendments in the PCA Act, 1960 as extracted hereinabove in para 2 of the note.
This draft amendment Bill 2016 to the PCA Act, 1960 is as laughable as the January 2016 notification by the MoEF&CC which said while bulls, as per the MoEF&CC notification dated July 2011 will continue to remain on the list of animals which are not performing animals, the government is making an exception of bulls used in sport like jallikattu, rekla, kambala and others. The draft amendment Bill 2016, yet to be placed in Parliament says, “Any animal notified in the official gazette” which is actually animals which are no longer permitted to be trained or exhibited as performing animals, can now be trained and exhibited as a performing animal in a manner prescribed by religion, custom or tradition. Going strictly by the word of the law, a performing animal is both chimpanzees riding a cycle in a circus and elephants used for performing “aarti” to a temple deity as gajapooja or simply standing inside or outside a temple to “bless” passers-by in an act which is only glorified begging by the mahout; the underlying truth in training a chimpanzee or an elephant is that humans use brute force to break the animal in body and mind to learn to perform unnatural acts. http://www.dailypioneer.com/todays-newspaper/azadi-after-50-years-for-unluckiest-tusker.html
If Nehru stood the PCA Act on its head and played the religion card for halal killing to appease Muslim religious sentiments, Modi too will be standing the PCA Act on its head if he plays the religion card to appease the rich, powerful and politically influential jallikattu lobby.
Violence against women linked to violence against animals
Modi Sarkar’s intention to amend the PCA Act, 1960 whose end objective is to re-define cruelty against bulls in the name of religion, customs and tradition, is for me personally a huge disappointment from a person whom Hindus trust to restore Hindu civilisational values in governance and administration. Needless to say, animal activists must resist with full might any attempt to weaken the PCA Act, 1960 in any manner which keeps more and more animals out of the purview of the Act itself and out of the purview of what constitutes cruelty; animal activists must also approach the Supreme Court to challenge and set aside the Mumbai High Court’s order permitting Muslims to slaughter animals during Bakrid inside housing societies. When the judiciary permits public slaughter of animals as religious sacrifice, and when successive governments, contrary to Hindu dharmic worldview, actively encourage the meat and hide industry and when governments choose vote bank politics and encourage abusive sport like jallikattu which will further weaken the already weak PCA Act, the country must brace itself to witness more and more public violence against women and animals.
The Tamil Nadu state government undertook a massive operation to hack down hundreds of green trees along the sacred “girivalam’ route of the Thiruvannamalai Shiva temple to “widen the girivalam path” to accommodate thousands of pilgrims who undertake the sacred circumambulation of the hill;
Tamil Nadu’s wild elephants and wild elephants across the country besides other forest-dwelling wildlife are dying horrific deaths in scandalous numbers only because successive governments which privileged economic development over nurturing and preserving our forests, have destroyed the habitat of wild animals and encroached upon elephant corridors to make way for highways, railway tracks, human settlements and farm-lands; and
Ali Anwar, a JDU MP in the Rajya Sabha from Bihar reduced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet reshuffle to the then HRD Minister Smriti Irani’s body. “While talking to a TV channel, Ali Anwar, a Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar reportedly said Irani got the Textiles Ministry so that she could now cover her body”. Let us not mince words – the last part of Ali Anwar’s obscene remark implies that until she took charge as Minister of Textiles, Minister Smriti Irani was unclothed.
Because this is a man’s world and politics is largely a dirty man’s world, Ali Anwar got away with impunity. Nirbhaya, Swathi, Karuna and Smriti Irani are emblematic of a primordial truth – self-assured women, successful women, articulate women, thinking women and powerful women by definition represent men’s worst fears of a wobbling status quo when women refuse to accept male domination and the all-pervasive masculine worldview which defines and controls the role and place of animals and women in a man’s world. And when women say ‘no’ to men and their masculine worldview, Nirbhaya, Swathi, Karuna and Smriti Irani happens.
It is not surprising therefore, that men see feminists and animal activists as a threatening seamless entity challenging the entrenched male-centred worldview where subjugating women and animals passes off as culture and tradition.
Nirbhaya, in the words of her under-aged rapist, had to be brutalised because she resisted rape and did not submit meekly and silently to gangrape.
Swathi had to be hacked to death in full public view on a railway station as punishment for saying ‘no’. Despite rejecting the overtures made to her several times, her tormentor continued to stalk her relentlessly; Swathi finally picked up the courage to tell her stalker that she was saying ‘no’ because she found him unattractive. In a man’s world when women say ‘no’ they must be prepared for ultimate physical violence.
Ditto with Karuna who was stabbed 32 times on a busy road in Delhi by a man who refused to accept her ‘no’.
Smriti Irani was an articulate, feisty and self-assured woman in politics and she stood her ground for so long as she had the backing of the Prime Minister. Powerful men, self-proclaimed scholars in academia and the left-leaning secular brigade, including the ubiquitous Ramchandra Guha bayed for her blood accusing her of not being educated enough to be Minister for Human Resources. What these men celebrate in Mayawati, in shameless and condescending reverse snobbery, they condemned in Smriti Irani because Smriti Irani would not be patronised and worse she was a woman minister in a male bastion and worst of all, she was a minister hated for her blunt-speaking ways in a right-wing fascist government.
The Generic Church knows well enough that Modi’s Achilles heel is sustained bad media. In the end Prime Minister Modi capitulated to the pressures of relentless media spotlight on Smriti Irani forcing him to sacrifice her for the greater good. “Greater good” like “custom and tradition” philosophises trade-offs; which leads me to suspect that custom and tradition is pious for what men want. In a man’s world, ideal women defer to men, are silent and self-effacing. If you think this sounds ominously like qualities in well-behaved dogs, you are thinking right. Because Uma Bharti and Sushma Swaraj had already been pacified and tamed, the left-leaning secular mob never bayed for their blood or for the blood of Nirmala Sitharaman and Najma Heptullah while Maneka Gandhi and Smriti Irani’s every twitch of the eyebrow and every word from their mouths is watched and weighed for the slightest sign of unstable status quo.
Theorising feminism and animal activism
As bastions are breached, when status quo is disturbed and silences are broken, feminists and animal activists come under increased attack. I welcome scrutiny, even pitiless scrutiny if it leads to the truth but the attack against feminists and animal activists is more often than not mindless and abusive invective with little basis in facts or truth. Because I know from experience that self-examination is the best antidote to accusations, it may be a good idea to theorise feminism and animal activism - as good as it is to fault man’s world and masculine worldview. And this I propose to do within the framework of Hindu dharma. While Hindu society is undeniably man’s world, the saving grace is sanathana dharma negates and rejects the masculine worldview.
Feminism in white Christian countries, generally referred to as ‘the West’ was born of necessity and as a reactionary social movement to the very nature of the Christian god, the Church and the Bible. The Christian god is a bearded white man while the Church’s power hierarchy is primarily white and totally masculine (even if it does describe itself falsely as the bride of Christ) and the white Bible is unambiguous about how and why the white Christian god created white man and then woman as after-thought and why he created the world.
According to Genesis in the white Bible, where man alone is made in the image of god, all nature, and this includes white god’s afterthought woman, has been created and exists for white man. The white god has sanctioned white man with the birth-right to subdue the earth and have dominion over all things in it, where all living things exist for man “for meat”. Woman’s inferior status within the Christian religion and in Christian societies, Christianity as territory-conquering politico-religious ideology, genocide, apartheid, colonialism, slavery, exploiting and abusing all natural resources, the place of man, the place of woman and animals, the place of rivers, mountains and even space – their point of origin for the Christian worldview is the nature and gender of the Christian god and the narrative of creation in the white Bible.
At the very core of Christian worldview is the biblical tenet that man can “use” everything in nature and all things on earth in his interest; biblical sanction to ‘use’ implies use without consent and without respect the object that man uses; and in such a world, ‘use’ rapidly degenerates to misuse, abuse, exploitation and finally destruction.
In the Christian worldview therefore god is white and man; when god created humans he created man in his image and women as afterthought to be man’s obedient helper; and all earth was for man to subjugate and conquer while all living things were created by god for man “for meat”. One can understand violence against women, animals and all nature given the basis and content of the Christian religion.
The Hindu worldview, in sharp contrast, is civilizationally different from the Abrahamic worldview. At the core of sanathana dharma is the stunning proclamation: Truth is one and all Creation is diverse manifestation of this one Truth. This Truth has varied names but no matter by what name religious Hindus worship the Truth they all agree that Brahman suffuses all Creation and therefore everything in Creation is a manifestation of that ultimate divinity, ultimate Truth. Sanathana dharma gave the world not just “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman) but also Tat Tvam Asi (You are Brahman) and Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma” (Everything is Brahman). The defining characteristic of sanathana dharma is - everything is sacred and no one living thing is privileged over another; there is no hierarchy of importance or privilege in Creation in Hinduism. The most profound philosophies are compressed in the Trinity, Brahma Vishnu and Shiva and their consorts – Saraswati, Mahalakshmi and Shakthi. The Divine pantheon in Hinduism embraces every creature manifest. Across the Hindu world we are certain to find Hindus in some corner of the world continuing with their tradition of worshipping all beings in Creation – rivers, mountains, trees, animals, birds, snakes, reptiles, insects, even ants. This vibrant worshipping/worshipful tradition is a living, throbbing way of life for all practicing Hindus. In such a tradition there is no place or dharmic sanction for oppression, for exploitation and for violence.
And yet, unspeakable crimes against female foetuses, young girls and young and not so young women do happen and they are happening with increasing frequency and violence. Violence and discrimination against women is not a recent phenomenon; it has always been there – within the family and in society; this notwithstanding all pious proclamations of how our culture worships woman. We did not speak about it and we denied it because we knew it was a violation of dharma, and we were all guilty of the violation – men and women equally. Women are as guilty as men for violence and discrimination against girls and women because women have been raised in a man’s world and they want to belong to this world. To reject to be a part or participant in man’s world would mean isolation, alienation and loneliness. It is not given to every woman to rebel, to resist, to reject, and to find the strength to move away. In the end women choose to suffer in silence because they are either not empowered to stand alone or they fear to stand alone or they do it for the “greater good” to keep the family together, or for societall stability. Every house will have a story to tell. Strange how very few women feel the strength of nari shakthi, stree shakthi or matru shakthi. I would not be surprised at all if the countless women in public life, in politics, in business, in media or in any area of life where they have breached a male bastion and paid a heavy price, if they all felt at one time or another that they were victimised, marginalised and ignored simply because they were women, and either better than men or more successful. Smriti Irani was sacrificed for the greater good as much by the women in the cabinet as by men.
The basis for all abuse is masculine worldview
I will conclude with my surmise that the basis for all violence and all abuse is the self-arrogated right of man to position himself above women and animals. In Hinduism man is complementary to woman and equal to all things in creation – sentient and non-sentient. If anything, sanathana dharma places great responsibility on men and humans to protect the weak and the voiceless. But these dualisms still exist and are functional: man-woman, mind-body, culture-nature and humans-animals/ecology.
The worst crimes, in terms of sheer numbers and the human failure to see the immorality of it, are perpetrated by humans against animals. We talk glibly about domestic animals totally ignorant or unconcerned about the ugly truth that the process of domestication of some animals in the past, was one of the bloodiest, most cruel and unethical of all human endeavours; to demonstrate just how ignorant or arrogant we are about domestication, there is a significant segment of jallikattu supporters who reject the term “captive elephants” and insist these are “domestic elephants” as if that justifies the abuse or makes the abuse less abusive or less adharmic.
However, domestication of animals came only after using animals for food. The most profound insights in dharma, the profoundest truths are contained in the way Hindus did agriculture. There is no acceptable excuse or explanation for killing animals for food when this land, blessed by the gods and by our rishis was so fertile that it could feed the world. But because traditional agriculture is not the subject of this article but animal abuse is, Hindus continue to kill animals for food and worse, instead of feeding the entire world with real food, we have attained the shameful status of supplying the entire world with the meat of our animals; we are the world’s top exporter of beef and among the top five countries of the world in meat export too.
Theorising meat and meat-eating: Hindus participate in meat production and are meat eaters because we forgot the fundamentals of dharma – everything that exists is Brahman, everything is sacred and man is not privileged over other beings and there is no sanction in dharma to kill; much less to kill for profit and kill to satisfy one’s senses. We continue to commit this mahapapa day after day because we have successfully de-personalised the thing on our table. The thing that is sold in shops, the thing that comes to our table has no eyes, is not looking at you with frightened eyes, has no voice, its voice as it screamed in pain when the first blow was felt on its head or when the knife slit its throat, has been forever silenced. The thing on the table, the thing wrapped in a package, it has no eyes and no voice. It does not carry the history of a cow or goat mother grieving for the son who was taken away from her to be killed to sit on your table as meat. To stave off human guilt and shame for eating the dead body of a once living animal or bird or sea-animal, beef is not cow or buffalo or bull; veal is not a tender, baby calf still suckling at its mother’s udders; venison is not deer, pork is not pig; not that it is a deterrent because dead fish still have eyes, and chicken meat even if it has no eyes or voice is still called by its original name. In a man’s world, where man defines himself as being endowed with superior sentience, superior mind and in whom reason and rationality have pre-eminence over the body, the tendency is to diminish the worth of the body or to reduce women and animals as just ‘bodies’. Physical abuse of women, rape and using animals for experiments in science labs is manifestation of this contempt.
Closing word: Superior sentience, mind, reason and rationality which define the boundaries of what separates man from woman and humans from animals are also the qualities of the very science in whose name we abuse and kill animals: Science is objective, de-personalised, reasoned, rational and therefore by implication superior to all other knowledge systems. Section 14 of the PCA Act only entrenches non-Hindu science. The PCA Act as it is now and increasing violence against women are directly linked to how India treats animals. Prime Minister Modi must seriously consider strengthening, not further weakening the PCA Act, must stop meat export and reduce meat production. When this is done, in one stroke or in measured steps, it will impact positively on the well being of women. But so long as Prime Minister Modi consents to weakening the PCA Act, does nothing against animal abuse and animal cruelty, does not review meat production and meat export policies, his Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign will not achieve desired results. Hindus must forcefully reject the very idea of “necessary pain, suffering and cruelty” against animals. The Doctrine of Necessity has no place or sanction in sanathana dharma.
26, 09, 2016.