‘Beef season’ has become an annual event in India’s calendar in recent times. Every time our liberals/rationalists/humanists/activists imagine or perceive a slight from the Union government regarding their dietary preferences, they proceed to slaughter cows, calves, bulls, oxes wholesale. Beef festivals are organized and attempts made to convince the world that beef is an integral part of regional dietary customs. Congress goons took ‘Beef season’ to another level when they slaughtered a hapless calf before a crowd composed of men, women and even children. Once the calf had been butchered in cold blood, its meat was cooked and distributed. Once again, plans are afoot to organize Beef festivals in different parts of the country. There is a concerted attempt to show that the cow carries no sentimental or religious attachments in the Southern part of the country as against the North, where Cow is worshipped as a mother. The latest Beef agitations are over a Union government order that seeks to regulate sale of cattle. There is a clear attempt by demonstrators to pit the cow as a North vs South issue. Breaking India forces at work have already let loose #dravidnadu on Twitter.
Dravida Nadu or Dravidistan is not a new word in India’s lexicon. Periyar and his Dravidar Kazhgam and later on the DMK harboured ideas on breaking free from India under a supposed Dravida identity. The so-called Dravida Nadu was to be composed of the modern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh-Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Some proponents believed Maharashtra and even Odisha should be a part of Dravida Nadu. The movement turned out to be a damp squib. There are several reasons for its failure. firstly, the other South Indian states were afraid of Tamil hegemony in the name of Dravida Nadu. Secondly, the Kannada/Telugu/Malayalam speakers did not share Periyar’s enthusiasm for anti-Brahminism and his anti-Hindi agitations. Thirdly, in the aftermath of 1962 Indo-China war, Nehru had made secessionism illegal and lastly because the DMK realized that the lesser it touted its Dravidistan credentials, the more political acceptance it gained. Other than this brief attempt to force Dravida Nadu upon the Southern parts of India, historically, there has never been an mutually exclusive/hostile South/North Indian divide.
It now seems that anti-nationals in the South want to create a Dravida Nadu to satisfy their dietary preferences.
Hindus in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh/Telangana do not have a history of beef consumption and their culinary preferences and taboos mirror those of the North closely. In fact, Kerala followed the same trend till the 80s and 90s, when influences from Gulf trickled down in Kerala and gradually erased the taboo around beef consumption. This combined with long spells of Communist rule that viciously attacked Hindu beliefs as superstitions and pandering to minority votebanks created an aura of acceptability around cow slaughter and beef consumption. A lot of this also has to do with demographics. Hindus in Kerala are a small majority over Muslims and Christians who do not share the Hindu sensibilities on cows. That having been said, the jury is still out whether beef is a staple food item in Kerala. It is fair to say that far from mobilizing masses in favour of Dravida Nadu, beef parties serve to help political parties burnish their credentials and consolidate their vote banks.
A North India vs South India narrative has in the past been wildly successful in Tamil Nadu, where the DMK owes its popularity to the Aryan-Dravidian clash myth. That the myth has been repeatedly debunked is of no importance to those beating their chests about it because it is a Goeblessian lie that serves its purpose well.
To be honest, there is no Dravidian identity and certainly no North Indian identity. What exist are several linguistic, caste based and geographic identities that fit in neatly in an overarching Indian identity that is based on Hindu history, Hindu culture and Hindu traditions and has been slightly secularized in modern times.
Whether for gains, political or personal, groups of people have been striving to create a clash of various identities and sub identities to serve their petty purposes. Whether it be #DravidaNadu or ‘Beef season’, the attempt is to force a violent clash whereby the game of victimhood can be played to garner sympathy and political points. This is as true in the South as it is in the North.
There exists an overwhelmingly silent moral majority in India. From Arunachal to Gujarat, from Ladakh to Kanyakumari, they are found in drawing rooms, tut-tutting the state of affairs in the country but restrained by social conditioning, they feel powerless to act. If the idea of India as an ancient civilization with a rich culture has to be saved, the moral majority must empower itself to make their voices heard over the din of News anchors and party spokespersons. They must rise above political correctness and false liberal pretensions. It is this majority that must serve as India’s moral compass and keep the eternal flame of our ancient culture alive. Incidentally, Cows, often described as ‘Gau mata’ occupy a central place in that ancient culture.