Open Letter to Gau Rakshaks and their gurus
Dear Gau Rakshaks,
I understand that you are riding on the wave of power right now, feeling emboldened with the change of regime since 2014. I also understand that this sudden spasm is a result of pent up emotions since long and not a product of overnight political demagoguery. You wish to wreck vengeance on those who you believe have desecrated, abused and tortured your holy cow with impunity for long. I understand that yours is an act of retribution aimed at teaching a lesson to ‘wrongdoers’ who have hitherto gone unpunished.
I am not writing this letter to lecture or to advise you on the inappropriateness of your act. Nor do I intend to mock at the hypocrisy of your act. That on one hand you are thrashing Muslims and Dalits in the name of the holy cow, while on the other hand your very own government is promoting a ‘pink revolution’, making India the top beef exporter country of the world.
Here are a few questions which you don’t need to answer to me but to yourself.
Let me begin with your daily chores.
When you wake up in the morning, do you ensure that the toothpaste you’re using does not contain glycerine made from the fat of a holy cow? Yes, glycerine is derived from tallow (fat). The manufacturers would claim the glycerine they use is from vegetable sources (soyabeans or palm). How do you ensure they place your faith before their profit, considering that the glycerine from a veg-source is costlier than the non-veg counterpart?
Do you actually check whether the mouthwash, chewing gum, shaving cream soap, hair cream, shampoo, conditioner or moisturizer that you use are not derived from a cow? The ‘Panthenol’, ‘Amino acids’, or ‘Vitamin B’ can be either from animal or plant source. Please check before use. The fabric softener you use contains Dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride. What is the source?
Brushed your teeth? How about a cup of tea? But wait, please ensure that the sugar you are using has not been whitened using the bones of cow.
Let’s go for breakfast. What would you like? Chhole Poori? Please ensure that the refined edible oil you are using is not adulterated with tallow (fat). For your information, the patriotic government that you elected has surreptitiously removed the 32-year old ban on tallow which was imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1983 after disclosure of beef fat being using by companies in vanaspati (vegetable cooking oil).
Come, let’s move to your drawing room. Nice sofa. Do you know that the furniture in your house might have been made using animal products? The glue that is used for manufacture of plywood or for the laminates could well be of animal origin. Yes, glue is prepared by boiling the hides, bones, connective tissue and meat of animals, viz cow, buffalo or pigs. It is true that synthetic glue is also available nowadays. But considering it’s a matter of deep faith, how do you ensure which glue is used in your furniture?
Ok, let’s go out. What’s your mode of travel – car or bike? Please check the tyres. No, not for the air pressure, but whether the tyre manufacturer has used animal-based stearic acid which helps the rubber retain its shape under steady surface friction. Incidentally, stearic acid is also used in cosmetics, candle sticks, lubricants, deodorants, cream and flavouring agents.
Let’s go shopping. Please avoid using plastic bags. Why? Because many plastics, including shopping bags, contain 'slip agents', which reduce the friction in the material. What are those made of? Animal fat of course. Although polymers are manufactured from petroleum feedstock, plastics manufacturers often use additives of animal origin to improve material properties and/or to aid in processing of raw polymers. Slip agents can also be produced through vegetative process, but the pertinent question is whether multi-national corporations will compromise on profit by opting for a costlier input material out of respect for your faith?
Let’s talk of your primary current occupation – bashing, brutalising Dalits and Muslims, men and women. Please make sure you don’t get hurt hurting others. If you do, please ask your Doc to give you tablets, not capsules, because the capsule shell is again made from animal protein. The gelatine used in capsule shells is prepared by boiling the hides, ligaments, bones or tendons of cows, buffaloes or pigs. If you need a stitch, please ask the doctor what the surgical threads are made of. They are normally made from the intestines of the cow. Western countries have discarded the use of surgical threads made from intestines of bovine animals due to infection risks of ‘bovine spongiform encephalopathy’ or ‘mad cow disease’. But can you be sure of the same in India.
Do you know that the medicines you take may be using ingredients from organs of cow, buffalo or pigs? If you are suffering from hypertension and high blood pressure, the Doc might prescribe ‘heparin’. Heparin is used as a blood thinning agent and as an anti-coagulant. It is also used in dialysis. Do you know how heparin is produced? From lungs of cows or intestines of pigs. If you are diabetic, the insulin that you take is prepared from pancreas of pigs. A number of vaccines are produced from embryo of chicken, or serum and embryo of guinea pigs.
Frustrated? OK, let’s watch IPL. But wait. Do you know that the game which gets your adrenaline shooting also involves the cow? Holy cow! The leather covering of the ball used in cricket is made from the hide of calf, cow calf.
Ok. Chill. Take a puff. But beware, cigarette too seems to be non-vegetarian. The filter bud may contain pig blood. That you might say is not your problem for the pig is taboo for Muslims, isn’t it? But what about gutka? Do you know that the supari contained in gutka is the left over supari, obtained after cleaning the hides of bovine animals? What more do you expect from a packet of Rs. 2? Fresh supari? Check yourself, the manufacturer’s address. Kanpur? Isn’t Kanpur the hub of tanning industry? Got it? Google it yourself.Ok. You avoid these in any case since they are injurious to health. But then those jelly beans and candies that you take home for your kids are also strictly vegetarian. They may have been made using animal bones. The lipstick that your women use at home is also made from beef tallow which incidentally is also used in yoghurt, ice cream and eye shadow.
I can point out hundreds of such products (to be honest you provided me the necessary spur for research on the issue). But I suppose I have made my point clear. It is not Dalits and Muslims who are destroying your faith. The corporate world has screwed up your belief system beyond redemption. So why attack the poor people who eke out a living? They are mere agents who provide the raw materials to corporate bodies which in turn produce any number of goods for your daily use. The real business is being done by corporate giants. Would you dare attack them? Would you stop using all the products mentioned above?
You might argue that you are only against beef consumption. But how would you get to the bones, the intestines, the hoofs, the hides, the tallow etc required for manufacturing your daily use items?
So, may I suggest you consider the live and let live principle? There’s space for everybody. In your communal frenzy you are destroying age- old bonds. What for?
Cheers. Make merry with your neighbours and friends who do not necessarily belong to your community. Love your countrymen.
But one last caution for now. Don’t burst crackers. No, no, not just for the environment’s sake. Stearic acid is often used in fireworks to coat metal powders such as aluminium and iron. This prevents oxidation, allowing compositions to be stored for a longer period of time. Do I need to repeat where stearic acid comes from?
Farhan Rahman is a research scholar at the Central University of Jharkhand.