27 August, 2017

THE COW DILEMMA

There has never been a doubt in my mind that the public cow slaughter and open beef eating always needed to be moderated – if not abolished – at least from amidst Hindu and Jain neighbourhoods so long as the popular Hindu mind revers the cow. Indeed, in my writings a decade ago I urged Muslims to voluntarily give up beef eating. But the rationalist in me always questioned the long term viability of a total ban on the slaughter of the cow and its progeny. Moreover, slaughter and slow murder are but two forms of painful death. The condition of the cow at the best of times on our roads is so painful that even those like me that do not regard that animal holy feel deeply pained. Cows have not been evolved by nature to rot on hot cement roads. We bring them unto the cities so that we do not have to travel to the jungle to worship them. And then let them on the roadside. Their hooves want soft mud, village roads, not hot concrete. When they lie on these roads – inhaling vehicle emission – what would be happening to them is of no concern to these cow-vigilante. Most cow-rearers turn them out after milking them, and permanently after these hapless animals cease to produce milk. Their condition today is what must have been the condition of elderly, sick, childless widows centuries ago. Nowhere to belong, no one to take care. You can see cows eating plastic, polythene and what not. If they could cry, their stomach ache would compel them to. In my earlier house, many such cows used to fill in our parking lot after we left for workplaces. And once one which was emitting some white saliva in the morning was found dead right inside my car park that evening. I felt deeply guilty for not having summoned medical help in the morning. But I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have succeeded with a simple telephone call. As the beef ban sets in place effectively in most parts of India the following questions must bother the planners and policy makers: - What will be the cow population in 2020, 2030, 2050? - Where will such large numbers live? - Where will they graze and who will feed them? Will the Hindu charity alone be able to feed them all then? - What additional lands will be required to produce their fodder? - From where will those lands be taken? Form jungles by destroying another life form: the trees? Or from farmlands, leading to human starvation? - What will be the extent of additional carbon emission considering that the cow on overage releases between 70 and 120 kg of Methane annually. And one is not asking troubling questions such as the following: - What will be the additional demand on farm foods considering that all beef eaters and some meat eaters would be compelled to switch to vegetarian food? - What would be the impact on the prices of vegetables and cereals by reason of this additional demand? - What will be the rise in malnutrition of those that earlier survived on such non-vegetarian foods? - Would it not be normal for the trend to expand generally to cover all non-vegetarian foods? So, would it possibly lead to more non-vegetarians [meat, chicken, fish, egg eaters] changing their diet for vegetarian? - How would this impact all the things aforesaid? Then there are moral / ethical questions that one doesn’t ask for political correctness. For instance, shouldn’t the particular vegetarians for whose sentiments beef is banned subsidize those compelled to forego it? All in all cow is not only a sensitive, emotive subject, but equally too important an economic question for planners to neglect. An ostrich-like approach will hurt our collective national interests badly if we neglect this for too long. [By the way, will some readers please work out the numbers that answer the statistical questions asked above, for us?]

04 July, 2017

SAUDI DICTAT AND QATAR'S ISOLATION

Muslims live in a feudal society, and Saudi imperialism epitomizes this mind-set. Led by Saudi Arabia, a few countries - mostly dictatorial regimes - have issued sanctions against QATAR and set humiliating conditions for lifting them. One relates to the shutting down of @Al-Jazeera television channel. We in the rest of the world celebrate the fact that after half a century Muslims finally managed to put out one world class media organ and here a bunch of undemocratic nations want that shut down, too. Qatar is also accused of having friendly relations with a Shiite country, viz, Iran. Again, we ought to be happy that somebody was attempting to erase this Arab-non-Arab divide, and should welcome this. Yet another accusation against Qatar is supporting terrorism. Osama was a Saudi, not a Qatari. Most Muslim terrorists receive aid from Saudia - officially or privately from its citizens, in the name of the so-called glory of Islam. At any rate, isn’t Wahabism in itself a subtle form of terrorism in everyday life? Qatar, with its futuristic vision, comparatively greater openness, better global indices [check Gapminder statistics on Qatar] and Al-Jazeera, came as a saving grace for the Arab world. Yet do you find any major voices against this Saudi-led belligerence? Why don’t the Muslims of the world raise their voice against such humiliating isolation of Qatar? Against demands to shut down Al-Jazeera? Is a Saudi victory in this war of nerves likely to enhance the Muslim prestige?

27 June, 2017

07 June, 2017

किसान का आक्रोक्ष

लेलो आलू, प्याज मेरी, मुफ्त में ले जाओ ये!
मैं कहाँ से लाऊँ भाड़ा इसकी मंडी के लिए?
मेथी, पालक, मूली, बैंगन, और टमाटर लाल लाल
भिन्डी, मिर्ची, ककड़ी, गाजर, दूधि और गोभी भी हैं
ये सिर्फ सब्जी ही नहीं, खून है, पसीना है मेरा
सिस्कियां बच्चों की मेरे, मेरी पत्नी की पुकार
बैंक का है कर्ज़ ये, और गहने हैं माँ के मेरे
दो महीनों की तपस्या, त्याग है परिवार का
राज है बनियों का, मोटे मोल्स का, बाज़ार का,
रुपय्ये मुझको दें, और २० खुद लें साहूकार
शहर के पानी की बोतल किलो सब्जी के दाम
आधुनिक भारत में तो बेचारा मर जाए किसान
आपने जो एक्सप्रेस सड़कें बना दी है यहाँ
गाँव के, खेतों के सीने चीर के जाती हैं जो
शाला इधर, शिष्य उधर, गायें इधर, तालाब उधर
जीवन मेरा बिखरा दिया, कर डाला सब कुछ अस्त व्यस्त
गाँव से जाती हैं यह, पर गाँव की यह हैं नहीं
गाये, बकरी, बैलगाडी, साईकल भीबैन्डहैं
और आपकी यह सुपर फ़ास्ट, राजधानी गाड़ियाँ
दनदनाती हैं मगर रूकती नहीं यह गाँव में
ऊंचे पुतले, फ्लाई-ओवर, गरबा के मंडल, रिवर-फ्रंट
शहर के बाबू के होंगे, मेरे यह किस काम के?
जिसके बच्चे भूख से बेचैन, सो सकते नहीं
क्या मनाएंगे वो सीमा पर सफलता का जश्न?
वाह सर! कैसा अनोखा और विचित्र है यह विकास
जिस्से वंचित देश के ९० प्रतिशत हैं किसान!
तूवर, गेहूं, धान, और मकई या गन्ने हो या बाजरा
सीमा पे मरना एक बार, खेतों में मरना बार बार
जब भी मैंने मांग की, स्वाभिमान की, अधिकार की
आपने दीं गालियाँ, कुछ लाठियाँ, कुछ गोलियाँ!
भीख तो मैं माँगता हूँ आपसे कोई नहीं!
बस चुका दो मुझको मेरी कठिन मेहनत का बदल!
मुझको झांसों में बहुत डाला है तुमने बार बार
छोटा सा एक कर्ज, थोडा पानी, एक टूटी सड़क
एक झलक मनरेगा की, और थोड़ी बिजली की चमक
मुझको ललचा कर हड़प ली तुम ने मेरी सब ज़मीन
हिंदु-मुस्लिम, जात-पात, और प्रान्त मैं बाँटा मूझे
राम मंदिर, गाये-बंदी से भी भड़काया मुझे
हमको लडवाया बहुत, और संगठन तोडा भी है
अब नहीं, बस अब नहीं, मैं अब बहल सकता नहीं
गैस, बिजली और इन्टरनेट कहाँ मेरे लिए?
सिर्फ शाला है, मगर कॉलेज कहाँ बच्चों के हैं?
अब भी पानी के लिए मीलों मेरी पत्नी चले
स्वच्छ भारत में मेरे शौचालय अब तक ना खुले
दूसरों को वेतन आयोग, सिर्फ मनरेगा हमें?
सोना चांदी दूसरों को, लोहा, तांबा बस हमें?
आत्महत्या गर नहीं तो क्या वो बेचारा करे?
स्वाभिमान से खुद मरे, या आपके हाथों मरे!
टाटा, अम्बानी, अडानी, रेड्डी, टोरेंट और सहारा
चांदी उनकी, खून हमारा; लाभ उनका, त्याग हमारा?
मैं किसान हूँ, ना समझ था, अब समझ सकता हूँ सब
इसलिए: बस अब नहीं, अब मैं यह सह सकता नहीं!
आग जो उठी है भारत वर्ष में चारों तरफ
घाव गहरे कुछ तो होंगे, आक्रोश इतना जो है!
अब सहेंगे हम नहीं, बस अब नहीं, कुछ भी नहीं
लाठियों और गोलियों से अब तो हम डरते नहीं
बंद करो ये खोटी बातें, काम की कुछ बात हो
हम बड़े भोले थे पहले; अब लेन हो, और देन हो
झूठे बहलावे से, भटकावे से अब हम दूर हैं
अब छलावा कुछ नहीं, या दाम हों, या दूर हों
मो. . जौहर
अहमदाबाद, जून१७