The article on vegetarianism in India vs the West (What makes Indian vegetarians different from Westerners who have given up meat?) is a case study in the limitations of viewing the world through a majority/minority, oppressor/oppressed framework. The fact that vegetarianism is an established social norm in India to a much greater degree than the West does not suddenly transform it into something regressive – it is merely an indicator that the West is 2,500 years late in adopting on a larger scale the same “rebellious” and “revolutionary” thought that has led to the entrenchment of vegetarianism in large portions of Indian society.
It is flatly false to assume that vegetarians in India today mechanically reproduce these norms without embracing the thought behind them. Ahimsa is a value still actively embraced by practitioners of Indic religions today, myself included, despite receiving no mention in the article. The implication not only assumes an insincerity of belief among Indian vegetarians that simply is not true, but also fundamentally misunderstands the extent to which social norms are actively embraced by successive generations.
Today’s Indians do not blindly follow vegetarianism simply because their parents do any more than today’s Americans blindly support the right to bear arms today because their parents do. For that matter, turning to vegetarianism does not magically inspire Westerners to align with other “counter-cultural” or “progressive” viewpoints; after all, Hitler adopted vegetarianism.
The values that inspire a revolution do not suddenly lose their merit and do not suddenly become mechanically reproduced norms once the revolution becomes the establishment. Every social norm was once counter-cultural before it was adopted on a wider scale by society and eventually entrenched as a norm. Arguing otherwise leads to absurd results. – Sandeep S
I would like to draw your attention to the construct of Brahamanism in matters of food preference. There is no such link between caste hierarchy and food preference. Almost all high-caste Brahmins eat non-vegetarian food. Though not exhaustive, a few example will be suffice: Maithili Brahmins, Bengali Brahmins, Chitpawan Brahmins and Gaur Brahmins are a few.
No so-called upper-caste group is even predominantly vegetarian. Punjab, with the highest percentage of scheduled castes, is largely vegetarian. They have not gained any social or political mobility based on their food habit in last 50-100 years or so. Rajasthan is also a case in point.
India can’t be bound in theories that are monolithic. This society is too complex and multi-layered to be understood by uniform theories. – Pankaj Nayan
The article hit the nail on the head. For example, vegetarians in India will rarely marry a meat-eating person. In today’s so-called love marriages, most meat-eating individuals married into vegetarian homes cannot cook and eat non-vegetarian food at home.
Also, the social media image describing the types of vegetarians misses out one type – “furtivitarians”. These are people who claim to be vegetarian in public but love the taste of meat and eat it with their friends outside their house without the knowledge of their family or fellow-caste men. I was told by a restaurant owner that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, his grandfather had to introduce boneless meat in his restaurant to cater to such people because they would come with their families for a meal, excuse themselves from the table and go to the manager out of earshot of the family to ask for meat with bones removed to deceive their families into thinking that they were having vegetarian food. Any request by family members to share the food would be turned down by saying that the dish is very spicy!
Further, there are some vegetarians who think mushrooms are meat! I know people who are convinced that mushroom is meat and they despise it and those who eat it. This raises the question of how they define meat. Mushrooms are somewhat chewy and, perhaps, that makes some people think that it is meat. But the same people relish unhealthy street food that usually contains germs and bacteria without a care.
This is what happens when cultural norms are accepted without critical evaluation. Sometimes, the touchiness of some vegetarians can be rather hilarious. – Rajratna Jadhav
What is wrong in following vegetarianism due to habit as long vegetarians do not think they are superior to non-vegetarians? Prejudice against Brahmanism is reflected in the attitude against vegetarians. In these days of minoritism, you should support the minority vegetarians. – R Venkat
I’m a Brahmin and obviously a vegetarian, and a doctor. The reasons I choose to be vegetarian are two fold: spiritual and medical. This link gives perfect insight into the spiritual aspect. Moreover, a study by Valter Longo, a renowned name in the field of nutritional research, has investigated the role of animal protein intake. The superficial nature of your article reflects imbecility and lack of scientific temper. There is a sense of inferiority enthusiasm to dissect the social fabric in the narrative. Please do a deeper analysis of the subject before blurting out moronic articles. – Amogh Rao
Congratulations to the authors on this enlightening piece. But I am not fully convinced. In my community, the Mohyals, who claim to be Brahmin, those who lived in Multan and further West, are vegetarian and don’t even eat onion. But those living East, Lahore and its surroundings, are traditionally non-vegetarians. Both form a single endogamous group. How would you explain that? – Vaids
While I congratulate the authors for a succinct delineation of the differences, I wish they had recognised the growing numbers of people (like me) who were raised vegetarian for religious reasons but choose to remain so because of environmental concerns and out of compassion for animals.
Religion and rituals do not have the grip they once used to on eating habits. I have plenty of Brahmin friends who eat chicken and mutton. My own sister-in-laws, who are both home makers, are extremely god-fearing and otherwise blindly follow traditions and rituals, relish eating chicken when they eat out. This change also needs to be reflected. – Chitra Dinesh
I am a vegetarian North Indian Brahmin, Although I believe that most of your comments are apt in today’s world, I am not convinced by your conclusion.
I was born vegetarian and have various friends who are non-vegetarian and belonging to different communities.
I believe vegetarianism is a more well-researched and profound way of life. The world has accepted the benefits of vegetarianism with regard to animal welfare, healthcare and the like.
Respectfully, the authors seem to be influenced by Western theories on indigenous philosophy.
Vegetarians in India may or may not endorse casteism but they ensure a more scientific and healthy lifestyle (even if it is because of tradition and ritual). Being vegetarian is difficult and we face a lot of mockery and challenge in the meat-eating cities of India. – Rohit Pathak
I haven’t come across an article more horrendous than this! Generally considering every Indian vegetarian to be influenced by a cult, moreover calling every disciple out there to be a part of a cult is no less than insulting the centuries old Indian guru-shishya parampara. Also, no, the gurus haven’t mushroomed over the last few decades, they have existed for centuries! Secondly, claiming that people have turned to vegetarianism to attain a higher social status in the hierarchy portrays the writers lack of wisdom towards authentic Vedic knowledge. The writers even went on to suggest that the Indians turn to vegetarianism to create social inequality!
It makes me wonder if the editors at Scroll.in have lost foresight while publishing such articles. Is this a blogging website wherein one can pen down whatever weird theory pops into their head? Furthermore it’s very clear that the writers can’t understand Hinduism or Jainism or Buddhism or Islam for that matter because they aren’t truly spiritual.
Lastly, I may have misunderstood what the writers are trying to say. But if they do suggest that we Indians are practising vegetarianism just for the sake of social norms then well I’m disappointed in Scroll.in and the team of writers and editors alike to have actually put this into the conscience of our fellow Indians who don’t practice vegetarianism and spark animosity, for which you should be punished.
PS : I am the only vegetarian in my family of non-vegetarians and we are able to live together as a family happily without judging each other’s food habits. – Kanika Israni
This article is an eye-opener for me. The reason behind vegetarianism in Indian culture is just caste. What’s the real argument for following a meatless diet and animal cruelty concerns are not talked about, humanity is not taught. Instead, what people will think if they catch you eating is considered more important. I think our cultures should better teach us and show us why vegetarianism is good rather than by forcing abstinence from meat because of caste or religion. – Kanishk Jain
It is a prejudiced view that vegetarianism is an offshoot of caste system. This is deriding the concept of vegetarianism. Agreed, vegetarianism is ingrained into people’s pysche by birth, but despite the availability of vast choices and the attraction of non-vegetarian food, very few people convert to meat-eating.It is inbuilt like love for children, nature and respect for elders. So no amount of trivialising the sentiments of vegetarians will work to advocate non-vegetarianism. – Nisha Jain
Your article is myopic, half-baked and one-sided. It’s so poorly done that I’m tempted to believe that the authors have written this just for money. I would strongly urge some meaningful research and analysis before you put out your prejudices in public. – Jubin
The article on vegetarianism is absolute rubbish. Suddenly, food habits create inequality? The more a person is vegetarian, the greater is their propensity to casteism, seems to be the argument. I haven’t read a more contrived and illogical argument about casteism. So to eradicate caste-based discrimination all those who are vegetarians have to start eating meat? What about the Jains? And Christian vegetarians?
You have nothing to contribute to the betterment of society, hence you are trying to cover up that fact with vitriol and drivel. Please move past your own biases and do something good for the country’ future. – Aditya Manjunath
Saina Nehwal CWG row
I am Harvir Singh, father of Saina Nehwal. I read your analysis (“CWG 2018: Saina Nehwal incident provides another opportunity to put the right systems in place”). I never went to any Commonwealth Games event in Delhi or the Asian games. For the Olympics I went to Rio but stayed out side the games village. How am I being blamed for my presence at the CWG at Gold Coast? I have several friends here who could have taken me outside easily, but I came here at my own cost, with no burden on any institution and through proper channels. At 11 at night, I am asked to move outside and am told that I am Saina’s personal coach and can be thrown out. How else would she have reacted?
I go with Saina to other tournaments and I bear the cost of travel and accommodation. It is never on government cost.
I love all players, I like their performance and I wish them luck for all games. – Dr Harvir Nehwal
Following the heart-wrenching public apology, a wave of sympathy for Steven Smith has been gathering not only across Australia but in several parts of the globe where cricket is played with compassion (“Don’t cry for us, Steve, you are a victim of our own exalted expectations”). Great praise must be heaped on Australian Cricketers’ Association President Greg Dyer for taking up the fact that the quantum of punishment glaringly disproportionate to the crime. Punishments cannot be announced in a fit rage as was done by Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Southerland. There is need to weigh the pros and cons before coming to a conclusion.
We cannot destroy someone just because he attempted to over-step the laws of the game. It was just an attempt, it did not succeed.
President Greg Dyer spoke of how sad he felt about Stephen Smith breaking down in tears. This writer from India felt equally emotional. As many as 63-years ago, I would tune in to Radio Australia to pick up the ball-by-ball radio commentary of a test match, such is my enthusiasm for the game since childhood.
And, oh dear, Paine the wicket-keeper is leading Australia to pain at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg. – Brian McDonald
Anyone who has their eye set on the happenings in the Congress will opine that Rahul Gandhi is turning into a management guru (“Does Ashok Gehlot’s appointment to key Congress post mean Sachin Pilot will be CM pick in Rajasthan?”). In the recent changes he made, he followed the tried-and-tested carrot and stick approach. After the Gujarat polls, everyone, including political pundits outside the Congress, recognised Ashok Gehlot’s potential. He has been referred to as “Mr Turnaround”. So he deserved a carrot, and Rahul Gandhi offered him the key assignment.
Similarly , in the recent bye-polls in Alwar, Rajasthan, Jitendra Singh did a splendid job . He was instrumental to the historic win, and thus he too got a well-deserved carrot, while the stick went to BK Hari Prasad .
Handing over an important assignment to Gehlot in Delhi in no way indicates that he shall no longer work for the welfare of the people of Rajasthan. Though the decision of chief minister rests with the high command through a process of consultation with the newly elected MLAs , there is another very important dimension: the people’s voice. this significantly impacts the decision-making process. So the final decision of the chief ministerial candidate will depend on the leader’s appeal among the masses . Undoubtedlym Ashok Gehlot is number one in terms of experience and popularity. Sachin Pilot, Jitendra Singh or even CP Joshi can be his second-in-command. – Manohar Yadav
Wheeling and dealing
These disruptions to daily life are a refusal to acknowledge the rights of those adversely affected (“Motorcycle rallies: How the BJP has appropriated India’s bike culture and saffronised it”). Compare this to the 30,000 farmers protesting in Mumbai who marched during the night to avoid disrupting students giving exams.
Politicians in India behave as if they above the law. Why should Amit Shah else a motor cycle rally to welcome him? Why can’t he enter the city and move around like any common citizen? Same goes for all other to ministers and government officials. Such disruptions are worse than a bandh.
Politicians may consistently increased their earnings and rule us like the dictators of old. Even our maharajas who owned states did not disturb the movement of traffic. Who among them will bell the cat? – SN Iyer
Support for Salman Khan
I am not star-crazy, but I love to watch Salman Khan’s movies (“Salman Khan and scandal – an eternal love story”). We humans tend to be judgemental often. Going for bad boy to everyone’s bhaijaan is not an easy task. We all tend to do mistakes in life. It might differ from person to person but in the end the one who repents diligently and moves on to a better version of themselves will win the battle of life.
Salman Khan has gone through many phases of his life and has evolved through each. Let’s respect him for that.
I respect the laws of our country, but then justice should be delivered in all cases. It’s easy to offer opinions. We need to see the situation from the both sides of the coin and then decide what to do. I hope our bhaijaan overcomes this test too. – Jyothi Sharma