Mumbai Meat Ban Lifted: But Is India Really Secular?
The 4 day ban on meat imposed in Mumbai during the Jain fast, Paryushan, was lifted after 2 days, after many opposed the requirement made by the state of Maharashtra. The whole affair brought about the question of whether India is really a secular country.
Paryushan is an eight day fast observed by the followers of the Jain religion. Jains are strictly vegetarian, and oppose any violence to humans, insects or animals. Some wear masks in order to protect the organisms in the air, and have a brush to sweep the floor before stepping on it so as to not crush any insects. Jains in Mumbai ordered that meat be banned in the whole city. Despite the small Jain population, making up 2% of the city population, they are highly influential and affluent, holding ownership of many businesses in the city. It is thought that the government imposed a ban due to this reason. However, it was stopped halfway through after a gruelling court case, resulting from the magnitude of people opposed to it.
Beef Ban In Maharashtra
Although this was only a 2 day, (prospective 4 day) event, it brought the attention back to the fact that Maharashtra has a permanent beef ban, as it is a primarily Hindu state. The government have shown their support for Hinduism, and now Jainism, during this fast, as they yielded to their demands. However, it is important to consider other people’s needs, separate religious beliefs, and rights. In early March 2015, a beef ban was imposed on Maharashtra by the state, approved by the PM. This is unsettling for non-practising, or more secular Hindus, and people of other religions in the state, as they feel that their rights are being violated. It also affects the sellers of meat greatly, as there is a 5 year jail sentence, and a 10,000 rupee fine for those in possession, or those who sell it. India is the world’s largest beef exporter, and many Indians rely on this abundant and cheap source of protein to stay healthy, as the 5th largest world consumer of beef.
“There is a progressive look to Mumbai. These are regressive steps”, said the report by the high court, according to the Times of India, challenging the BMC’s decision to have a four-day meat ban. Although I am vegetarian by choice, I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I respect that the state is trying to support the Jain fast, with its small population and diversity, however, it shouldn’t be a requirement for others to observe vegetarianism as well. Secularism is important in a country with diverse religions, with clear majorities and minorities, as to not spark conflict or risk favouritism.
It’s difficult to make decisions regarding religion, as India is officially a secular country. However, I believe we must keep India democratic and liberal so she can succeed and thrive as a country, while still maintaining respect for her all-important cultures and religions.[Image Attribute: PDPics]