Why are we, as a nation, remaining silent and allowing ourselves to be pushed back just to satisfy a few political whims?

Harassment Surabhi Lakshmi faced for beef eating showed me danger is close home
Voices Opinion Monday, September 11, 2017 - 14:15

I read about the National award winning Malayalam actor Surabhi Lakshmi being trolled ruthlessly by ‘well meaning’ citizens due to her eating beef on a TV Show aired during Onam. 

In another incident, a minister responsible for the tourism sector has openly asked visitors to eat beef in their own countries and enter India. What is astonishing is that these are Kerala related incidents.The very same Kerala which takes pride in its educated masses. How ironic!

I may or may not be a beef eater. And I certainly am not enclosed within the rigid framework of any political creed. But that is not the issue. I may choose to eat whatever pleases me for any festival which I may or may not celebrate. But so long as I am not a cannibal or go about killing and eating endangered wild species, I don’t see why it should be a problem. 

I may be an atheist, theist, deist, pagan, sceptic, apostate, or just about anything I want to be.  That is absolutely my choice. I may be inspired by works of Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, Osho, or just about any other writer.  But that doesn’t essentially mean I would allow myself to be labelled and categorised into a particular compartment. Our national anthem is undoubtedly best in the world. And whenever I hear it, my chest swells with pride. But that shouldn’t be a yardstick for measuring my love for my country. 

I absolutely adore my Muslim neighbours, who are like an extended family, but why should it make me an anti national? Why should my friendship with men be labelled as ‘immoral’ by a small section of pseudo nationalists with perverted views, and more importantly, why are we cowering down in fear before their unreasonable demands? 

Why are we, as a nation, remaining silent and allowing ourselves to be pushed back just to satisfy a few political whims? That too, when we have a beautiful constitution that guarantees us six fundamental rights! Why should we be intolerant to the point of killing someone just because their viewpoint differs from ours when the best thing would be to respect the others’ view and stick to your own? Why do we get trolled mercilessly to the point of being defamed and degraded in social networking sites by cowardly voices who hide behind a veil of anonymity to spew hateful and abusive venom at anyone with a differing view, even when it is an opinion on something as insignificant as a movie?  

Yes, I have an issue with all this. My issue is the same as that of millions of progressive fellow Indians who would rather mind what is on their own plate than poking their heads into others’ businesses. I am terribly pained and frustrated because I don’t like the idea of my constitutional freedom being taken away from me. More so because I do not compartmentalise anything or anyone on the basis of political or religious ideologies.  When such a small and natural act like eating beef can bring about murders, tortures, public beatings, and riots in a country which has always stood by democracy, then the less said, the better. 

Today, the Surabhi Lakshmi incident made me realise how close to home the danger is. From the other side of the Vindhyas, this venom of hatred has been slowly creeping unawares, paralysing our opinions. I just hope we are collectively able to regain our lost voices and stand strong to thwart any attempts made on dividing us either politically or through religious means. I hope centuries later, our history texts will not mention beef as the cause of political strife leading to deadly massacres in Kerala. 

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