Hindutva State

How Narendra Modi helped spread anti-beef hysteria

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s communalism around the Dadri beef lynching is directly buttressed by the prime minister's politics.

The phrase “the buck stops here” was popularised by the American president Harry S. Truman. Truman famously had the phrase painted on a small wooden board and kept on his desk in the Oval Office. He often invoked the words in his public speeches.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been compared to many Western leaders but it is quite apparent that Truman will never be one of them. Right now there is a veritable chorus of voices whose sole aim is to prove that the buck does not stop with Modi – and those voices have gone into overdrive in the wake of the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri last Monday by a mob that claimed to be acting on rumours that he had killed a calf and stored its meat in his home.

Stoking the embers of Dadri

Post the Dadri killing, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and members of Modi’s own government are clearly trying to stoke the embers of this conflagration for political gain. Shrichand Sharma, the vice-president of the BJP’s western Uttar Pradesh unit, wanted the victim’s family booked for cow slaughter right after Akhlaq had been bludgeoned to death. BJP legislator and Muzaffarnagar riots-accused Sangeet Som has threatened to give a “befitting reply” if “innocents were framed” for Akhlaq's murder. Modi’s minister of culture, Mahesh Sahrma, absolved the killer mob altogether, declaring their act to be an “accident” and wanted everyone to be grateful that the mob had only killed Akhlaq but not molested his daughter.

Even after this, the prime minister's admirers couldn't bring themselves to blame Modi. Consider, for instance, the response of noted commentator Tavleen Singh. Assigning a curiously passive role to the prime minister, all Singh could say was that Modi “has done nothing to stop them [his bigoted ministers and party members]”.

Modi’s history of gau raksha politics

Not only has he failed to stop his colleagues, Modi had, until not very long ago, enthusiastically joined them in vitiating the atmosphere. When it comes to Modi’s views on cow slaughter, we don't even need to second guess his minister’s statements or his own enigmatic silences. Before taking office as prime minister, Modi had spoken extensively on the matter and his views are on the record.

In fact, one of the major themes of the 2014 General Election campaign was a supposed “pink revolution” that the Congress was promoting, an insidious plan to help slaughter more cows and make money off their meat – a theme that fitted in neatly with the BJP’s evergreen charge of minority appeasement.

Pink revolution

Here’s a translation of a speech delivered by Modi on April 2 in Nawada in Bihar, as part of his 2014 election campaign.
"I am coming from Dwarka city and Dwarka has a direct connection to the Yaduvanshis [referring to Bihar’s Yadav caste]. And because of this connection, I feel at home here. I am therefore shocked that the same Yadavs who worship Shri Krishna, who keeps cows as livestock, who serves the cow, it is their leaders who are in bed with the same people who proudly massacre animals.

We’ve heard of the Green Revolution, we’ve heard of the White Revolution but today’s Delhi sarkar wants neither; they’ve taken up cudgels for a Pink Revolution. Do you know what that is? [points to crowd]. That’s their game; they’re keeping the country in the dark. I want to ask Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav: do you want to support the people who want to bring about a Pink Revolution?

When you slaughter an animal, then the colour of its meat is pink. This is what they call a “Pink Revolution”. And the Centre said with pride that, last year, India has earned the most from exporting meat. Across the countriside, our animals are getting slaughtered. Our livestock is getting stolen from our villages and taken to Bangladesh. Across India too, there are massive slaughterhouses in operation. And that’s not all. The Delhi sarkar will not give out subsidies to farmers or to Yadavs keeping cows but will give out subsidies to people who slaughter cows, who slaughter animals, who are destroying our rivers of milk, as long as they set up qatlkhanas [slaughterhouses]."

The next day, Modi flew to Ghaziabad, where he made the same speech, drumming up a sinister conspiracy to slaughter cows. Ghaziabad is less than 20 kilometres away from Dadri.

An old campaign

This theme of cow slaughter was repeated again and again through the 2014 campaign. But of course, the genesis of this brand of politics is much older. Whipping up religious passion by raising the bogey of cow slaughter was a part of Narendra Modi’s politics even when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

Addressing the Jain International Trade Organisation, a worldwide body of Jain businessmen and professionals, this is what Narendra Modi had to say in 2012:
"It is the Central government’s dream that they will bring about a Pink Revolution in India and export meat throughout the world. This year, the Centre has itself announced that India is the world’s largest beef exporter. Is this what we pride ourselves on? Brothers and sisters, I don’t know whether this saddens you, but my heart screams out at this. I am unable to understand why you are silent, why you are taking this lying down?"

The same year, his speech on the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap, one of the foremost historical icons of the Hindu Right, was even more fervent.
“Rana Pratap dedicated his life to gau raksha (cow protection). He fought wars and sacrificed young men to protect the cow. But what is happening today? Even the Supreme Court has said that we need a national cow protection law. But due to vote bank politics, the Central government is refusing to bring in such a law. Brothers and sisters, I recall Maharana Pratap today with pride because my government in Gujarat has brought in a cow protection law.

While we talk of the White Revolution or the Green Revolution do you know what the Central Government is up to? Go to the Internet and read up on it. The Centre’s dream is to bring about a Pink Revolution....To make money, plans are being made to slaughter gaye maa [the mother cow] and it is at moments like this that you remember Rana Pratap (thumps lectern angrily).”

Narendra Modi, therefore, thinks that fighting wars and sacrificing young men over cow slaughter is an example to be emulated. He built a massive – and successful – election campaign that had the ominous “pink revolution” as a key theme. Though Modi is now silent, his party is merely saying the same things he was till 16 months back.  As commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta put it, “Modi should have no doubt that he bears responsibility for the poison that is being spread."

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Some of the worst decisions made in history

From the boardroom to the battlefield, bad decisions have been a recipe for disaster

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Dick Rowe, the official talent scout for Decca Records, went to office, little realising that this was to become one of the most notorious days in music history. He and producer Mike Smith had to audition bands and decide if any were good enough to be signed on to the record label. At 11:00 am, either Rowe or Smith, history is not sure who, listened a group of 4 boys who had driven for over 10 hours through a snowstorm from Liverpool, play 15 songs. After a long day spent listening to other bands, the Rowe-Smith duo signed on a local group that would be more cost effective. The band they rejected went on to become one of the greatest acts in musical history – The Beatles. However, in 1962, they were allegedly dismissed with the statement “Guitar groups are on the way out”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decca’s decision is a classic example of deciding based on biases and poor information. History is full of examples of poor decisions that have had far reaching and often disastrous consequences.

In the world of business, where decisions are usually made after much analysis, bad decisions have wiped out successful giants. Take the example of Kodak – a company that made a devastating wrong decision despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Everyone knows that Kodak couldn’t survive as digital photography replaced film. What is so ironic that Alanis Morissette could have sung about it, is that the digital camera was first invented by an engineer at Kodak as early as 1975. In 1981, an extensive study commissioned by Kodak showed that digital was likely to replace Kodak’s film camera business in about 10 years. Astonishingly, Kodak did not use this time to capitalise on their invention of digital cameras – rather they focused on making their film cameras even better. In 1996, they released a combined camera – the Advantix, which let users preview their shots digitally to decide which ones to print. Quite understandably, no one wanted to spend on printing when they could view, store and share photos digitally. The Advantix failed, but the company’s unwillingness to shift focus to digital technology continued. Kodak went from a 90% market share in US camera sales in 1976 to less than 10% in 2012, when it filed for bankruptcy. It sold off many of its biggest businesses and patents and is now a shell of its former self.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few military blunders are as monumental as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. The military genius had conquered most of modern day Europe. However, Britain remained out of his grasp and so, he imposed a trade blockade against the island nation. But the Russia’s Czar Alexander I refused to comply due to its effect on Russian trade. To teach the Russians a lesson, Napolean assembled his Grand Armée – one of the largest forces to ever march on war. Estimates put it between 450,000 to 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon had been so successful because his army could live off the land i.e. forage and scavenge extensively to survive. This was successful in agriculture-rich and densely populated central Europe. The vast, barren lands of Russia were a different story altogether. The Russian army kept retreating further and further inland burning crops, cities and other resources in their wake to keep these from falling into French hands. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the French losing soldiers to disease, starvation and exhaustion. The first standoff between armies was the bloody Battle of Borodino which resulted in almost 70,000 casualties. Seven days later Napoleon marched into a Moscow that was a mere shell, burned and stripped of any supplies. No Russian delegation came to formally surrender. Faced with no provisions, diminished troops and a Russian force that refused to play by the rules, Napolean began the long retreat, back to France. His miseries hadn’t ended - his troops were attacked by fresh Russian forces and had to deal with the onset of an early winter. According to some, only 22,000 French troops made it back to France after the disastrous campaign.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to sports, few long time Indian cricket fans can remember the AustralAsia Cup final of 1986 without wincing. The stakes were extremely high – Pakistan had never won a major cricket tournament, the atmosphere at the Sharjah stadium was electric, the India-Pakistan rivalry at its height. Pakistan had one wicket in hand, with four runs required off one ball. And then the unthinkable happened – Chetan Sharma decided to bowl a Yorker. This is an extremely difficult ball to bowl, many of the best bowlers shy away from it especially in high pressure situations. A badly timed Yorker can morph into a full toss ball that can be easily played by the batsman. For Sharma who was then just 18 years old, this was an ambitious plan that went wrong. The ball emerged as a low full toss which Miandad smashed for a six, taking Pakistan to victory. Almost 30 years later, this ball is still the first thing Chetan Sharma is asked about when anyone meets him.

So, what leads to bad decisions? While these examples show the role of personal biases, inertia, imperfect information and overconfidence, bad advice can also lead to bad decisions. One of the worst things you can do when making an important decision is to make it on instinct or merely on someone’s suggestion, without arming yourself with the right information. That’s why Aegon Life puts the power in your hands, so you have all you need when choosing something as important as life insurance. The Aegon Life portal has enough information to help someone unfamiliar with insurance become an expert. So empower yourself with information today and avoid decisions based on bad advice. For more information on the iDecide campaign, see here.

Play

This article was produced on behalf of Aegon Life by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.