India is a democracy. Or such is my understanding. But the new buzzword being thrown around or is ‘trending’, getting the Twitterati butcher shop sharpening their knives and giving it their best shot is the word ‘ban’ and its frequent use by our country’s governing bodies. It is almost predictable now that such bans are followed by words like ‘fascism’ and ‘dictatorial’ being hurled at the current government as their credibility already hangs in the balance.
From Maggi noodles to adult websites, from documentaries to swear words to parties, alcohol and even movies, our ‘Ban-ned’ wagon is quite on a roll here. The latest to get on board is the newly revived meat ban by the Maharashtra Government in the name of religion. As always, religion is at the heart of the controversy yet again. The ban on the slaughter and sale of meat during the Jain fasting period called Paryushan has stirred the already stewing pot of religious pluralism.
In an article I read recently, the author has compared this to similar bans in countries like China and Saudi Arabia where equally ridiculous bans were enforced, though interestingly opposing in nature. China’s ban on fasting during Ramzan in Xinjiang in 2015 and Saudi Arabia’s official statement in 2014 ordering non-Muslims to also go hungry and thirsty as a sign of ‘respect’ to their Muslim counterparts is equally appalling. Why a non-Muslim should be made to go hungry or a Muslim in another country should be stripped from his right to perform his religious rites is as mind boggling as our government not allowing the meat-loving section of society to go about their normal routine just because of another religion’s festival.
Since the love of bans by our government is so ‘unconditional’, I have a different proposal for them. If things must be banned, why not shift the focus to the things that matter? Why not ban those things that have become a deterrent to our progress and are keeping us from losing the tag of being a ‘third world country’?
I would like to see a ban on the streets being used as a toilet and a trash can. If by allowing people to relieve themselves on our streets, we cannot respect our own country, how can we expect to gain respect from anyone else? I would like to see a ban on jumping traffic lights and not upholding traffic rules and regulations. The appalling number of road accidents occurring under the influence of alcohol can be curbed by imposing and strictly implementing a ban on drinking and driving and under aged driving. Not just by pointing to the legal fine print and then turning a blind eye. I also want to see a ban on a man laying a finger on a woman forcefully without her consent. And, of course, vice versa. The list is endless and pleads for immediate action. Better implementation through harsher punishments is a course of action that will have to be adopted for real change.
Religion is already a delicate issue in our country for several reasons that I don’t need to list here. So, instead of adding fuel to the already raging fire and imposing such ludicrous bans, the need of the hour is to use this time in addressing other, more critical matters that evidently are already way past the required time of action.
The sitting government today already has a lot to prove to a whole lot of people. While a lot may already be underway, many more promises of change are to be fulfilled as we cling on to often meandering hope. At a time like this, such kind of mindless diktats as meat bans only tend to disappoint and make us question why the line between democracy and dictatorship is beginning to blur.