A municipal corporation in Mumbai announces an eight day ban on meat and the country goes berserk. Politicians lose their bearings and that helps the community unite in solidarity, even more. Twitterati, as is their wont, gets another fodder for their attention seeking timelines. That then has been the story of the #meatban and the posturing that has followed it.
First and foremost, the ban on meat during the period of fast was passed in a democratic manner by people’s representatives of a municipal corporation extending to a rather small jurisdiction. Whether the resolution itself was right or wrong is subject to individual opinion, but it was passed by people’s representatives, and was passed following norms and procedures. The Shiv Sena who so vehemently opposed the ban, and lost the resolution by two votes, had four of its corporates absent during the voting.
In the aftermath of the ban, the Jain community has been made to look like religious fanatics, discounting the thought which prompted the resolution. It looks like part of the criticism is driven by jealousy because of the financial clout the community enjoys, on the back of its sheer hard work and enterprise one must add, and secondly because the community is a rather peace loving minority, and hence an easy target to pick on. As a multi-cultural country, it isn’t uncommon for the common man to be put under some hardship or other for some religious event or other. But the reactions that a #meatban invokes make it look like Jains have taken the right to live away from people. Ironical, but that’s exactly how it sounds.
When the news about the ban was first published, I was rather aghast at the short sightedness of the move and I ran it on my facebook. While the larger idea may have been driven by compassion, in a nation that latches on to any opportunity to convert a religious issue into a political one, the interpretation was always going to be that the Jains are trying to impose their religious ideologies on others. And that’s exactly what happened.
Most of my Jain friends who spoke on the thread confirmed that we do not stand for any bans and if we’d want someone to follow our principles, we’d do so with love and compassion and not by forceful coercion or supporting bans of any nature. The community has had to rather unnecessarily defend the actions of those who are in the seat of the power, aided by representatives from other religions as well. Jainism stands for tolerance and ahimsa. Ahimsa is not just about not hurting the living beings, but also about not hurting the emotions of living beings. Hence as a community, we do not stand for anything that will inconvenience others, including the #meatban.
Most laughable however have been the remarks of the leaders of party that is named after the great maratha warrior. Pulling Muslims into an issue that exclusively relates to Jains shows the pettiness of their mindset and shallow understanding of the idea of India. Please and hope they get this straight, the state of Maharashtra and India as a country is as much ours as is theirs. Don’t make the ban a reason to throw your weight around to start the talk about whom does Maharashtra belong to. No one is willing to buy into your propaganda and that has been proven time and again. Also do not forget that as a community Jains add a great deal of value to the nation than many others do, but we choose to remain humble and do what’s best for this nation– shut up and get back to work!
Lastly, what happens inside your kitchen is none of our business. We respect what you choose to eat; the idea was about being compassionate to living beings, whether it was appropriate for a municipal corporation to come up with such a ban or not is a separate debate. If understanding that is too much to ask for, we wish you good luck. We will continue to respect the living beings and living in harmony with everything around us, ban or no ban. My intention of this post was to clarify the stand of majority in my minority community, and if by virtue of this post, your religious sentiments are hurt in any way- micchhami dukkadam. That’s the Jain way of saying- forgive me if my actions or words have hurt you knowingly or unknowingly.