Don’t Debase Malayali Food: Open Letter to Education Minister, Kerala

Education Minister, Raveendranath in the recently elected Left Front Government in Kerala has drawn criticism from several quarters for his comments on food choice. Local media has reported his comments bracketing meat, fish and eggs to ‘illicit drugs’ and alcohol

Education Minister, Raveendranath

The author is a member of the expert Group on  Biodiversity and Development of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and also part of the Plachimada High Power Committee of the state government has authored this open letter.
Text of the letter:
Sri Ravaindranath
Hon Minister for Education
Government of Kerala

Honourable Minister,

I was surprised to see the news report yesterday (pasted below) on one of your speeches where you have bracketed universal human food meat, fish and egg with illegal drugs (and alcohol and asserted that you don’t consume any of these) (Madhyamam  October 5, 2016). At a time when the fascist forces are playing havoc on the country in the name of meat eating, it is an insult to the Kerala society and its culture where hardly a meal is taken without fish/meat/egg to debase our own food.

It is perhaps not entirely surprising that you belong to a Communist party or that you have been involved in the KSSP, for there is no dearth of reactionary elements there too.

Human species had the best evolutionary phase when our ancestors were hunter gatherers, meat eating even contributed to the advancement of the brain.  The deficiency of meat in human diet- especially the animal fat- can impair the normal state of the human brain even after some thirty thousand years of the hunting-fishing mode of the human species. Hitler is one glaring example. The other Hitler, Leopold II of Belgium,  who massacred even more number of humans too was, by most accounts, a vegetarian.

Today, the gross violence taking place across the country- killings, rapes, torture- in the name of cow protection are caused by brains that are deficient in meat-supplied nutrients. It is a reflection of this chronic deficiency that leads a human being to call for the rape of dead women too. Meat eaters too can commit crimes against humanity, but that is due to other psychological illnesses. Since you are a part of the Communist Party, I would suggest you start some extensive reading on this issue with F Angel’s important work The Dialectics of Nature, especially the chapter ‘The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man’.

Engels says ‘A meat diet contains in an almost ready state the most essential ingredients required by the organism for its metabolism. It shortened the time required, not only for digestion, but also for the other vegetative bodily processes corresponding to those of plant life, and thus gained further time, material, and energy for the active manifestation of animal life in the proper sense of the word…  The most essential effect, however, of a flesh diet was on the brain, which now received a far richer flow of the materials necessary for its nourishment and development, and which therefore could become more rapidly and perfectly developed from generation to generation.’ (If you cannot readily find this book I can lend you my copy bought more than 35 years ago). 

Perhaps you have more proclivity towards the Vedic texts than Marxist literature and therefore I would call upon you to read some of them so as to know what they speak of meat eating (Pl read translations of the originals, don’t go for interpretations which spoil the charm of these verses). Not only meat eating but meat curing is also at least as old as the story of Rama and Sita. Read Ramayana for the episode that Sita narrates to Hanuman who had just discovered her in Lanka in her confinement, after giving him a piece of her jewellery, as evidence to convince Rama that he (Hanuman) had indeed found Sita.

Also read Ayodhyakandam 2-20-29, Sundarakandam 5-36-41, Aranyakandam 3-44-27, all clearly showing that meat was a normal part of the diet of the people of that time including that of its chief characters.

If instead, you believe only in a hard core Brahminical text you may get a copy of Manusmriti. Its chapter 5 has two sections on food: on food that cannot be eaten (Abhakshyangal), and on the ways of eating meat (Mamsavidhi). As reflected in the Manusmriti meat eating was a natural thing, like humanity elsewhere.

I respect your personal choice as a vegetarian; I myself am presently flirting with naturopathy, sans its fanaticism, for the past few years (naturopathy includes moderate amounts of meat processed in natural ways). I have had meat as part of my regular diet, and during the college days often with my classmate G Suresh, who as Suresh Gopi today, the Sangh Parivar activist and MP has, like you, denounced meat eating.

At a time when the progressive forces of the country, including the CPI-M, are fighting it hard to protect the food choice of Indians, you as a minister, debasing the food of a wide section of humanity is a serious matter, an error of judgement. I earnestly hope you will apologise to the people of Kerala for the same.

With the best regards

S. Faizi
(To the repeated attempts made to contact the the Education Minister Prof Raveendranath by Sabrangindia, there was no response.)



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