Intro: Mr Katju, you have been seen more of a celeb in our social order, who had been a fearless custodian of rights and truth. But, I have genuine fears that your irrational remarks are maligning that image.
Respected Markandey Katju,
“What is the area within which the subject — a person or group of persons — is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?” Sir Isaiah Berlin in his famous essay- “Two Concepts of Liberty” (1958) asked this question, while conceptualising ‘negative liberty’. This reminder was for you as you have always evoked the question of liberty while making your hilarious remarks about everything in this country. First, you pushed Bapu and Netaji in your court of allegations, which was based on a very shallow understanding of history. The nation was yet about to overcome this unjustified intellectual excursion, and you again made an outrageous remark about your beef eating.
In your blog, ‘Satyam Bruyat’, your remark at the onset is that one consequence of the ban on cow slaughter is that issue is emotional, and not rational. Further ahead was a concern that unless Indians don’t think rationally, they won’t progress. Now an argumentative Indian will ask you, why only beef eating makes one rational? Everything cannot be about choices, in the name of liberty.
The concern of our Prime Minister in one of his “Mann ki Baat”, about addiction in youth is a moral appeal for a just constraint. I wonder many of you rational Indians will arise with LSDs, bottles of alcohols and marijuana, claiming the appeal was emotional, so we won’t accept it.The wave of vegetarianism has blown throughout the America and Europe, but such an endorsement of beef eating by a supposed celeb never came in counter. Mr Katju, you have been more of a celeb in our social order, who had been a fearless custodian of rights and truth. But, I have genuine fears that your irrational remarks are maligning that image.
The question of cow as mother is not an issue of rational versus emotional. It has an embedded reflection of a just order, where ecological balance is sustained in the Hindu tradition. Your claim reflects your awareness to the Hindu way of life. Nonetheless, the way you offend the faith which a devout Hindu has in cows, is not acceptable. The Hindu tradition has provided its umbrella to every element of nature, whether natural forces, animals, plants or every component- living or dead. I wonder someday you may also have a problem in the claim that why Ganga is being called a mother and not a river? A sense of pride in one’s cultural ethos and symbols is a true example of a rational mind state and not an emotional rescue as you claim. Your western spectacle is perhaps too fragile to see the inherent causation in claiming cow as mother. I wish enlightenment comes to your reasons, and then perhaps the discourse of rationality will be fulfilled.
Further like many of the ‘comrades’, you exclaim that those who attack you for the remarks are Hindu lumpens who know nothing about the Hindu philosophy. If so, I as a representative of the dissent ask you to clarify that from where in Hindu philosophy you seek the sanction of killing the most beneficial pet for your hungry belly? Who has legitimised you to craft your food chain, as you wish? Who has authorised you to decide that what is rational, and what is emotional? How by only killing cows for their beef makes one progressive and modern? It is big time, Mr Katju that people who can influence a public opinion should start being more responsive and responsible about what they say. Rationality never forces one to give away the respect for others, and make the dignified order detrimental. I feel your remark is an attempt to legitimise the historical debate in this country, where a rigid contour has been sketched to differentiate the ‘progressive’ and ‘reactionary’ or traditional. If eating cow beef makes one progressive, I am happy that I am traditional. But in the spirit of reason and rationality, I am concerned that the concept of progress will have to be revaluated and redefined. Hope for a morning when we will really become progressive in the spirit and respect that culture of this nation. Hope for a reply.
(BA (Hons.) History, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi)