Thursday, June 01, 2006

Indian Dreams, Indian Nightmares

SAN DIEGO - highway scribe here, out from under the post-tour deluge awaiting upon return from the exciting days of road writing and investigation and music and poetry back in New York.

Reading this morning’s (June 1) “San Diego Union-Tribune” an article about discrimination favoring vegetarians in India seemed to offer a strange insight; proof that if we turned our Western World upside down, it would be right-side-up to somebody else.

Favorite topics here include alternative ways of living the world and the possibilities posed by different arrangements, configurations, societal organization and what have you.

The article, by the Associated Press’ Ramol Talwar Badam, bears the headline, “In Bombay, meat is getting harder to find.”

There are 16 million people in Bombay, a populous city in a teeming country, and realtors increasingly won’t sell to meat-eaters. The vegetarian habits are born of religious belief, chiefly Hindu, although the writer mentions Jains, whatever that is.

The town is growing more “cosmopolitan’ according to Badam and that means more people coming from Gujarat and Rajasthan, which are “strongly vegetarian” states.

That makes diet sound like politics, which of course vegetarians in the U.S. and other Western democracies have been trying to tell us for a long time. Remember The Smiths’ album back in the ’80s, “Meat is Murder”?

Folks don’t like being kept out of certain realty enclaves in Bombay, but their court challenges have been denied because the law is essentially on the veggie side.

“It’s just not fair. It’s a monopoly by vegetarians,” one interviewee laments. “If you step out to eat, there’s nothing for miles because everything around is veggie.”


Which must be a relief to members of the animal kingdom throughout the subcontinent.

It really sounds crazy, like there’s another bizzaro world the U.S. can see by passing through the watery surface of a mirror.

Another article, in the same issue of the “Union-Trib,” demonstrates for us, nonetheless, the sliding rule of justice as it adjusts to fit different countries and cultures. In the very same India where farm animals get a break, it’s not always so easy to be a human being.

You’ll remember from high school or college, (hopefully) lectures about the caste system in Indian whereby a high class of philosopher/priests known as Brahmin get all the breaks, which are distributed downward until you get to the untouchables, whose plight it is never to catch a break.

Anyway, another Associated Press piece with the headline, “Government doctors end strike in India,” tells the story of a work stoppage by folks throughout the medical professions and schools that went on for over two weeks in India.

They were protesting a government plan to reserve more places for “low-caste Hindus and ethnic minorities.” They didn’t like it and shut things down pretty good as a result.

And these are the people who are supposed to take care of the people.


Stefanie said...

Wow, as a vegan used to discrimination for not eating meat, I can't imagine what it would be like to have the tables turned.

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