India’s Beef with Cow Consumption Sparks Mass Protests
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FEATURING THENMOZHI SOUNDARARAJAN – The world’s largest democracy, India, is embroiled in a new political battle, this time over cows. Hindus, particularly upper-caste Hindus, consider cows too sacred to eat. However, lower caste Hindus, also known as Dalits, as well as Indian Christians and Muslims, have consumed beef as part of their diet for centuries.
Now, after the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the right-wing Hindu fundamentalist party, BJP, the issue of cow consumption has become hugely politicized. Beef bans have cropped up all over India, and last year there was a high-profile killing of a 52-year old Muslim man for allegedly eating beef. More recently, some young Dalit men were brutally beaten up by a so-called “cow protection” group. Their beating, captured on video, has sparked massive Dalit protests all over India.
Complicating matters is the fact that under Modi, India has increased its beef exports worldwide to become one of the world’s largest beef producers.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit-American transmedia artist and activist, and co-founder of the international women’s media technology collective, Third World Majority.