Opportunistic Indian politicians put tradition above law 

Elections, which are the lifeblood of democracy, reveal their negative side when politicians abandon ethical convictions for the sake of playing to the gallery. Pandering to the various predilections of the electorate ranging from the distribution of cash, clothes or liquor to appealing to their religious/sectarian instincts has been an unfortunate feature of Indian elections.

Tactics of this nature have sometimes proved successful as has been demonstrated by the BJP’s use of the divisive Ram temple issue to move from the fringe of national politics to centre-stage.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party’s claim in the early stages of the temple agitation was that the judiciary had no right to interfere in matters of faith. The party’s chief minister in Uttar Pradesh at the time, Kalyan Singh, courted arrest with a proud smile for having defied the Supreme Court’s orders on protecting the Babri masjid, which was pulled down by a saffron mob in 1992 to make way for the proposed temple.

A similar show of defiance can be seen in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s call to the centre to promulgate an ordinance to negate the Supreme Court’s ban on the jallikattu programme which involves taming bulls.

In response to the petitions of animal rights activists, a judicial ban on the practice has been in force for four years. But next year’s assembly elections in Tamil Nadu have awakened the state’s politicians to the need to protect the “ancient tradition” of jallikattu, which marks the Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu.

By themselves, the politicians would not have imposed the ban since animal rights are not high on their list of priorities. Moreover, if such a supposedly effeminate concept conflicts with the gory, feudal customs preferred by the unwashed masses, there can be no doubt as to whose side the politicians will take.

For Jayalalitha, the outpouring of respect after a lapse of four years for a tradition which has elements of cruelty and sadism has apparently been necessitated by the recent devastating floods in Chennai caused by incessant rain, which exposed the failures of the administration and the degradation of natural water bodies by the builders’ lobby.

Although her principal opponent in the state, the DMK is not in the best of health under 92-year-old M. Karunanidhi, she cannot be too sure of the success of her own, one-person AIADMK.

In any event, since she cannot afford to take any chances in these uncertain days of volatile voters – the DMK, after all, has a 28 percent vote share – she has evidently decided that a show of respect for tradition will serve her well.

While Jayalalitha’s compulsions are understandable, what is odd is why the BJP, which virtually has no presence in Tamil Nadu, should have taken up the cudgels for the chief minister. Is it cozying up to Jayalalitha for a tie-up in the state or is it for the sake of the AIADMK’s cooperation in parliament for the passage of the reform bills?

The BJP is apparently so upset by her umbrage that it wants the chairman and vice-chairman of the animal welfare board to resign for having approached the Supreme Court about the government’s pro-jallikattu notification.

So much for the ruling party’s respect for institutional autonomy! Perhaps we will now see a couple of saffron apparatchiki appointed to these posts who are not too sensitive about the modern fad about the “rights” of dumb creatures.

Not surprisingly, Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was born in Madurai in Tamil Nadu although she currently represents Andhra Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha, has said that the centre had no objections to the state promulgating an ordinance.

It is possible, of course, that much of this is play-acting because the politicians know that it is not possible in this day and age to persist with a “sport which does not make for pleasant viewing. It is a replica of less sensitive times which is out of sync with the modern world.”

Besides, television footage of the hapless bulls can haunt the pro-jallikattu politicians at election time.

Bull-taming is not the only “ancient tradition” which is favoured over judicial diktats. An even more celebrated case is that of the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, where women between the ages of 10 and 50 – menstruating women – are not allowed to enter.

Evidently, high literacy levels and a strong communist presence make no difference where misogyny is concerned.

While the Supreme Court has ruled that women cannot be stopped from entering temples, it is unlikely that there will be a change in the status quo in the foreseeable future because governments are wary of intervening in areas where the response of the voters is uncertain.

It is worth noting, however, that of the three “estates”, the judiciary remains virtually the only one which, by and large, keeps in step with today’s ideas, unlike the executive, which is persuaded by opportunistic politicians to cater to the base instincts of the hoi polloi, and the legislature, which is mostly dysfunctional.

The media, too, which is the proverbial fourth estate, generally plays a creditable role by highlighting the self-serving antics of the politicians.

10 Comments

  1. How come this report doesn’t talk about the communal politics played by Congress party? They started the minority appeasing and minority ‘vote bank’ in the country!! The communal tactics used by Congress party and minority-worshiping are the main reason behind the rise of BJP, RSS and other right wing politics in India !!! I fully support secular state and animal rights. But, we need to be intellectually honest here. This discussion is not complete if these ‘journalists’ continue to ignore bad behavior from certain minorities while focusing only on Hindu groups. I am opposed to jallikattu as I reject any form of animal abuse. How come the same ‘animal right’ activists hide under the tables when it comes to one of the biggest slaughter of animals in the name of a religious festival by a certain minority group? The media, journalists, politicians, social activists, intellectuals – all these groups turn into a laughing stock when they selectively highlight issues and attack only one side. It’s not good for democracy or secular values.

  2. Very interesting and eye opening article to expose the magic show of the political magicians of India; using the most attractive and provocative subject called ” religion”.

    Nikita Khrushchev when came into power openly criticized the total inhuman rule of Stalin. Something he said
    is very appropriate and applicable to the politicians all over the world.

    “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river”.

    Black money share of Rs. 15 lakh/person is an identical example like the bridge construction without water under that.
    The Hindu religious spade card along with the Rama Temple promise were another big time political mantra.

  3. The preservation of regional culture and tradition is a goal of the Indian republic. Animal rights — should not be allowed to destroy regional cultures with their single minded agenda.

  4. Dear readers,

    Here is the outlook of Modi’s cabinet which promised ‘Good governance’ and ‘Aache Din’.

    7 of Modi’s Cabinet ministers are not even graduates
    http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/ls-election-modi-slide-show-1-7-of-modis-cabinet-ministers-are-not-even-graduates/20140529.htm#2

    1.Uma Bharati,Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation-Class 5
    2.Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati,Civil Aviation,Matriculation
    3.Anant Geete,Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises,Matriculation
    4.Maneka Gandhi,Women and Child Development,Grade 12
    5.Smriti Irani’s,Human Resource Development,B.Com-Part 1(??????)
    6.Harsimrat Kaur Badal,Food Processing Industries,Diploma in Textile Designing
    7.Jual Oram,Tribal Affairs,Diploma in Electrical Engineering.

    When the Supreme court need to set guidelines to fill forms, I seriously doubt the Autonomous Election commision of India’s candidate affidavit verification process in some of the cases.

    Will Modi India is heading for ‘Digital India’ or mythologically based pseudo science?

    Jai Hind

  5. There needs to be a debate in India about the influence of animal rights fanatics on Indian society. Many Indians die needlessly of rabies because animal rights fanatics oppose sensible policies to control the stray dog population. Delhi is overrun by monkeys- I am talking about actual monkeys- because animal rights fanatics oppose sensible policies to control the monkey population. Hindutva extremists uses animal rights legislation to oppress and murder Muslims transporting cattle. In many cases caste Hindus use animal rights as a cover to impose their prejudices and values on other communities.

  6. I see that Beef Club members are unhappy with animal rights groups. After all, this is what their foreign masters taught them for so many generations – They believe that the entire earth is created for human consumption!! For them, animals are just there to do some work and eventually take care of ‘naalige chapala’!! While sanaathana dharma sees god everywhere, these groups find it blasphemous to see ‘god’ in any of god’s creations!! How can you expect these groups to respect animal rights?

    Thank (imaginary) God – World has moved on and we have true secular-progressives fighting for animal rights!! No wonder these neanderthals are getting unhappy with us!! LOL

    • Thank (imaginary) God – World has moved on and we have true secular-progressives fighting for animal rights!! No wonder these neanderthals are getting unhappy with us!! LOL – Murudeshwara Rampai

      Who is this Australopithecus to comment on “Neanderthals” eating habits? 🙂

    • Original R.Pai – ” While sanaathana dharma sees god everywhere,…….”

      PAIMAAM – AS YOU RIGHTLY ARGUE THEY SHOULD NO EAT ANY THING. FOR THEY SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING! SO A SANATHANI CAN NOT LIVE MORE THAN A FEW DAYS.

      HOW OLD ARE YOU PAIMAAM?

  7. Hindutva extremists uses animal rights legislation to oppress and murder Muslims transporting cattle. In many cases caste Hindus use animal rights as a cover to impose their prejudices and values on other communities.-Mr.Roy

    Sir,The grand plan has been already implemented in the BJP ruled state of Goa by circular issued to all government, government-aided, middle and high schools has asked teachers to show students video clips educating them on the issue.

    Goa students to be sensitised against cruelty to animals
    See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/goa-students-to-be-sensitised-against-cruelty-to-animals/#sthash.Ydf64S0m.dpuf

    Children in Goa will be sensitised to be kind to animals, with the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) asking the schools to teach a program on ‘compassionate citizen’.
    SCERT Director N C Honnikeri in a circular issued to various schools has asked them to follow a brochure issued by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment Towards Animals) for sensitising students against cruelty of animals.

    The circular issued to all government, government-aided, middle and high schools has asked teachers to show students video clips educating them on the issue. “PETA India has now distributed the program (compassionate citizen) to all Goa government schools to use with children ages 8 to 12,” a PETA release said.

    The programme has been endorsed by the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Central Board of Secondary Education. Other states endorsing the program include Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana,Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

    This is the secret programme of RSS to brainwash the young minds showing cruelty.Imagine a teen taken to delivery ward and asked to witness the pain of women delivering baby,will she agree to conceive?

    Jai Hind

  8. Thank (imaginary) God – World has moved on and we have true secular-progressives fighting for animal rights!! -Atheist Mr.Original Pai

    Sir, Will you believe plants do feel pain like animals? Do you endorse the Indians scientist Jagadish Chandra bose research on plants “feel pain, understand affection etc.?

    Jai hind

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