"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shhh… Don’t tell Maneka, I cooked my chicken for dinner

I am glad none found killing the chicken, I rear in my pen and cooking it for dinner, awkward and called for support of Maneka Gandhi to book me under Section 428 of IPC. It had all trappings of attracting the attention of animal rights activists though.
  • Chicken was my pet for sometime
  • It not only served me but the neighbourhood also by its wake up calls. It was useful in keeping the pests and insects somewhat under control
  • I killed it
  • I cooked and ate it
This is all what three students did in Bengaluru, but the species differed, it was a dog. I don’t think lack of a wagging tail should make any difference for law that booked them from sparing me.

Section 428 reads thus;

Mischief by killing or maiming animal of the value of ten rupees.—Whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless any animal or animals of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

I am yet to find the legal logic that is used both by the police to invoke S. 428 and the overzealous Mrs. Gandhi and the activists to convince the police to register a case and arrest selectively these three students and not the members of innumerable village households that butcher animals for eating. If chicken, pork, goat is part of diet and available in market so is dog meat in certain parts of India. Bengaluru has not become a republic still, right? Had the accused persons stole a dog and killed, the case could have been different. It is different crime under a separate section of IPC. How is killing a chicken and a dog for food becomes different but for the emotions and values attached to it?

The values that a section of society or few hold is held against the whole world as ‘the right values’. To see beyond becomes impossible for these cloistered minds. This moral self-righteousness is the dwindling point of emancipation, growth and inclusiveness.

In the context of someone killing and eating dog, two values clash. Both clamor for the superiority over other. Each value may have relevance in its own context. It is not always proper to hedge one value against the other as if they are binary opposites and there is space for only one. The society is fundamentally plural, where multiple values can and need to coexist.

Religions like Christianity and Islam, to cite two active religions in India, have done great disservice to community by preaching singular truths and 'rest all living in sin' phenomena. India on the other hand had the culture of finding one's own god and salvation through one's own acts, being responsible to oneself. It is distressing though that the new wave Hinduism is denouncing that culture and is on the path of evangelization of their own creed.

In the culture of exclusivism and self-righteousness we are loosing the capacity to accommodate and appreciate that which we do not agree and understand. Things that we do not approve are not to be invariably opposed. In a democracy one should have a space to express opinion and discontent. As long as the practices of the other do not affect the fundamentals on which the society is built, it is better left to time to mature and solidify.

Choices in food is the luxury of plenty. When starvation hits, it is food that matters not what is eaten as food. Let us stop looking into what is in the plate of neighbour to judge. Let us see that our neighbours have enough in their plates to eat.

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