Thursday, January 19, 2012

Holy Cow Batman !!

If you’re visiting the state of Madhya Pradesh & you’re thinking of tucking into a juicy streak while you’re may want to stop & read these next series of articles about a recently introduced law (all articles are courtesy of the “Indian Express”):

An article about the recent law:

MP law: 7 yrs in jail for eating beef, cops can raid on mere suspicion

Bhopal, Tue Jan 03 2012, 02:38 hrs

Cow slaughter is now a serious offence and could invite a jail term of up to seven years in Madhya Pradesh. Consuming, keeping or transporting beef of any cow progeny will invite the same punishment. A police official not below the rank of a head constable — or any person authorised by a competent authority — has the power to enter, inspect and search any premises “where he has reason to believe that an offence (under this Act) has been, is being or is likely to be committed and take necessary action’’.

These stringent provisions will be notified after the Madhya Pradesh Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Bill, 2010 received the President’s assent on December 22.

Citing public interest and communal harmony, the BJP government argued that existing legislation provided for only a three-year jail term for cow slaughter and had several flaws. The state government amended it in July 2010 and sent it to the President. The new provisions will enable authorities to punish transporters, their employees and drivers with jail terms from six months to three years.

The Centre felt that raiding premises merely on the assumption that an offence is “likely” could be misused and recommended that such power be limited to cases when an offence had taken place or was taking place. The amended legislation has disregarded the recommendation.


An article commenting on the recent law:


Wed Jan 04 2012, 03:07 hrs

The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh comes down on cow slaughter with an exceptionally stringent law. The Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Act, which has received the presidential assent, makes cow slaughter a serious offence liable for punishment up to seven years.

Even transport of cows to slaughter or storing of beef could invite punishment of varying degrees.

Prohibition on the killing of cows and consumption of beef has been a contentious issue, arraigning the far-right, Hindutva groups against those who question the right of the state to determine what animal meat one should not eat, especially in a country with diverse eating habits. This came to a head in 1966 with the anti-cow slaughter agitation in Delhi. Cow slaughter is banned in many states — Gujarat, for instance, passed the Animal Preservation Act in October 2011, according to which killing of cows is prohibited along with buying, selling and transport of beef. In some other states, such as Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, butchering of cattle other than cows is allowed, if a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate is provided. In West Bengal and Kerala, on the other hand, consumption of beef is not deemed an offence.

What is of concern about the MP law, among other things, is this particular provision: “For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this act, the competent authority or any person authorised by the competent authority... shall have powers to enter and inspect any premises within the local limits of his jurisdiction where he has reasons to believe that an offence under this act has been, is being, or is likely to be committed and shall take necessary action.” When an authority has the power to barge into homes and hotels — based not on evidence but a supposition that an offence could be committed — it opens itself to abuse and, consequently, harassment of individuals and groups. This, again, needs to be seen in context: under this act, the onus is on the accused to prove his or her innocence.

Ironically, the MP government passed the new cow slaughter law, and thereby stepped up its cow politics, for the sake of what it called “public interest and communal harmony”.

This illiberal law could have the exact opposite effect. It calls for a strong legal challenge.


An article about what was said at the recent Cow Protection and Conservation Board's inaugural national workshop in Madhya Pradesh (yes...they really did say this !!)

BJP’s cow dung gems: stops C-sec, n-radiation

Milind Ghatwai : Bhopal, Tue Jan 10 2012, 02:41 hrs

* Only those inside houses coated with cow dung escaped the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

* There are only two ways to remain insulated from nuclear radiation, and one of them is application of cow dung.

* Using cow dung can ensure normal delivery instead of C-section.

* Those who drink the milk of jersey cow and buffaloes commit more crime than those who consume only desi cow’s milk.

* Only the cow can save mankind; just touching it can stabilise blood pressure.

These among other gems of wisdom were dished out as the Madhya Pradesh government’s Cow Protection and Conservation Board inaugurated a national workshop, ‘Bharatiya Gauvansh Sanrakshan Va Samvardhan’, Monday. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who inaugurated the workshop, came in for lavish praise and felicitation for his anti-cow slaughter legislation.

“Foreign breeds give only poisoned milk,” insisted Sunil Mansingha of Govigyan Anusandhan Kendra Deolpar, Nagpur. “It contains A1 protein, which causes autism, heart attack.”

“Marne se bachna hai to gai ki sharan mein aana hoga (To escape death, leave yourself at the mercy of the cow),” said BJP Rajya Sabha MP Meghraj Jain, who once suggested that tractors be pulled by bulls.

Shanker Lal, chief of Akhil Bharatiya Gauseva, said only the cow could help India regain its “primacy”, before going on to extolling its dung’s powers to protect against nuclear radiation.

Lal also asserted that 10 grams of cow milk ghee equalled 100 tonnes of oxygen, and that children became more obedient if they had cow’s milk.

Chouhan said the Madhya Pradesh government would strictly implement the new anti-cow slaughter law and designate special officers in districts to monitor its legal aspects. He added that they had wanted a maximum term of 10 years under the law, but had been forced by the Centre to keep it at seven.

With the legislation authorising authorities to raid on mere “suspicion” of an offence, the chief minister asserted: “The accused will have to prove his innocence.”

Animal Husbandry Minister Ajay Vishnoi said every district would set aside Rs 1-2 crore to feed cattle seized during raids.


Another comment on the recent law:

Using the cow

Javed Anand : Thu Jan 05 2012, 03:03 hrs

If you are a resident of Madhya Pradesh, Muslim and poor, nowhere close to the class of nawabs who can pay for murg musallam or mutton raan, watch your pot! The BJP government, led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has just armed itself with a big danda ostensibly to protect the holy cow and its progeny. But, make no mistake, it’s a stick to beat you with.

To save your skin, turn vegetarian or get out of the state. Better still, go to court. Veganism, remember, is not an option in the land of gau rakshaks: that might be construed as turning your back on what the gau mata has on offer — doodh, dahi, desi ghee and more.

In case you missed the news, the MP government’s Gau-Vansh Vadh Pratishedh (Sanshodhan) Act has just received the presidential nod. Punishment for slaughtering the cow or its progeny, transporting them to slaughter and storing beef, under the more-Hindu-than-thou legislation, will be severe: up to seven years in jail.

Eating beef has been a contentious issue in the country for long. A few years ago, Professor D.N. Jha, an eminent historian, argued in his book that in ancient India Hindus loved their cow and ate it too. For Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha leader who gave us the “Hindutva” concept, the cow was merely a “useful animal”, but by no means a sacred animal.

But for the Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati, it was indeed Holy Cow. The Arya Samaj endorsed cow worship even though it rejected idol worship and polytheism. To Mahatma Gandhi, the cow was “a poem of pity”. He too worshipped it.

India has had a long history of agitation for cow protection, no doubt. Today, laws prohibiting cow slaughter are in force in several parts of the country. This column is not about their rationale, but the severe punishment stipulated in the new enactment in MP.

A comparison with other states shows that there is no bar, or limited restriction, on beef consumption in Bihar, West Bengal, the northeastern states — Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura — and Kerala. Where prohibitory laws are in place, the punishment for offenders varies from six months in Maharashtra to two years in Orissa. Some of the stringent provisions are in states which are, or have been, under BJP rule: Gujarat, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand.

Look at it from another angle: check out the Indian Penal Code. For example, Section 295 of IPC says that for “whoever destroys, damages or defiles any place of worship”, the prescribed punishment is imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with a fine, or both. Could this mean that the punishment for destroying the Babri mosque is two years while the punishment for slaughtering a cow, or keeping beef at home or a hotel (in MP) is up to seven years?

Cow protection laws may be justified on religious grounds. But the provision of stringent punishments in BJP-ruled states clearly points to the communal dimension.

This is starkly evident in the case of BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. Under its new law, a humble head constable upwards, “or any person authorised by a competent authority”, has the power to enter, inspect and search any premises “where he has reason to believe that an offence has been, is being, or is likely to be committed and take necessary action”.

Is likely to be committed? You do not need a particularly fertile imagination to recognise the numerous possibilities in this draconian and insidious provision to harass, intimidate, implicate, detain, arrest or prosecute a targeted section of citizens. In a state where as often as not the police function as the private militia of the Saffron Brotherhood, who is to determine, and on what basis, whether a chunk of meat stored in the fridge or simmering on the burner comes from a buffalo (not prohibited) or from a cow or its progeny?

The low-profile chief minister of MP is wilier than we think. Having successfully sold the idea that here is a man whose sole concern is aspirational politics — bijli, sadak, pani — Chouhan has been cannily pursuing the politics of Hindutva Plus. Because he chooses to operate below the media radar, the country remains blissfully ignorant of his relentless Hinduisation of MP society.

Consider the deeds of the MP government as enumerated by the Bhopal-based journalist and secular activist, L.S. Herdenia, in a report last year:

Chouhan publicly enjoins government employees to take an active part in RSS activities; several government schemes are named after Hindu rituals and ceremonies; the Bhopal police chief issued a “secret” circular to all police stations in 2010, directing them to collect all kind of information from Christian institutions under their jurisdiction.

In early 2007, surya namaskar was made mandatory in government schools. In 2009, the government declared that students would have to recite a Sanskrit hymn, the Bhojan Mantra, before partaking of their government-funded midday meals. In April 2011, Chouhan announced that Gita Saar (Essence of the Gita) would henceforth be compulsorily taught to all students. And many land allotments have been made to various saffron organisations; one of them was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2011.

Add the latest draconian enactment on cow slaughter to the above and you get a complete picture of the agenda at work in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh: target Muslims with cow slaughter, Christians with “forced conversions”.

The writer is general secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy and co-editor, ‘Communalism Combat’,


And just in case you were wondering how the other states feel about tasty cows:

Some ban, some restrict, a few don’t

Wed Jan 04 2012, 02:49 hrs

Total Ban

GUJARAT: The Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 2011, introduced by the BJP government during Diwali, bans the slaughter of cows (and their progeny) as well as the sale, purchase or transportation of beef. The maximum imprisonment is, as in the new MP law, of seven years.

Karnataka: A 1964 law allowed slaughter of cattle under certain conditions. Now, the BJP government has framed a much stricter law not only banning slaughter but also allowing search and seizure. The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2010, passed by the legislature, opposed by the Congress and JDS, and yet to receive the Governor’s assent, proposes imprisonment up to seven years and fines up to Rs 1 lakh. The Bill includes a search-and-seizure clause empowering police officers of the rank of sub-inspector or above, and accords immunity to authorities implementing the law.

Uttar Pradesh: The UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act prescribes imprisonment up to seven years, as per an amendment in effect since 2002, a police officer says. Consumption of canned beef is allowed but sale or transportation of cattle for the purpose of slaughtering will invite prosecution. The officer says someone caught slaughtering frequently can face charges under the Gangster Act and the National Security Act.

Banned, but...

Himachal pradesh: The ban on cow slaughter here was imposed as way back as in 1979. The Himachal Pradesh Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act prescribes imprisonment of five years. The Act covers not only cows but also bulls, bullocks, oxen, heifers and calves. Even a person who withholds information about slaughter can be punished with a year in jail. Sale of beef is banned, unless one obtains a licence under the Act. Offences are non-bailable.

Tamil Nadu: A ban on slaughter of cows and heifers is in place since 1976, though not stringently implemented. Consumption of beef is not banned but it is something that divides communities. Beef is available at meat shops, but beef dishes are not served by any major restaurants barring a few.

Punjab & haryana: Both neighbours ban cow slaughter, with Haryana implementing the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, which has provisions for imprisonment. Punjab too makes it a criminal offence under various sections of the IPC. It bans the sale of beef though there is no provision for a penalty for its consumption. Neither state has ever had a complaint or case registered for sale of beef.

Bihar: The ban on cow slaughter is guided by a Central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It is a cognisable offence and bailable. The Society for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals, which has a unit in every district, becomes the complainant if a cow is slaughtered. Slaughtering a diseased cow is allowed under the law. It is legal to serve beef in restaurants but few actualy do so.

Within Limits

Jharkhand: The Jharkhand Prevention of Cowbreed Animal Slaughter Act, 2005, sets an age limit, with slaughter banned if the animal is less than three years old. There is no ban on consumption of beef. Approved during an earlier tenure of Arjun Munda, the law was notified during that of Shibu Soren. Imprisonment for illegal slaughter can go up to 10 years; causing an injury to such animals, too, is punishable with a fine up to Rs 10,000.

Maharashtra: The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, makes a distinction between animals: it bans the slaughter of cows but allows that of bulls, bullocks, female buffaloes and buffalo calves if a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate is obtained from the comptetent authority. Cow slaughter is punishable by up to six months imprisonment. A bill that aimed to ban slaughter of bulls, too, had been passed by both houses of the legislature in 1995 during the Shiv Sena-BJP government’s tenure. That bill is still pending with the President, while the currently ruling Congress-NCP alliance is doing a rethink about it.

West Bengal: The West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act, 1950, bans slaughter of healthy cows, with a violation carrying a maximum imprisonment of six months. There is no ban on consumption of beef, or on the slaughter (in a government or municipality slaughterhouse) of an animal certified as fit for this by a veterinary surgeon. The Act exempts slaughter for religious purposes, but the Supreme Court has said such exemptions too would be illegal.

Orissa: The Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960, makes slaughter a cognisable offence with a maximum imprisonment of two years or fine up to Rs 1,000 or both. “Cow” includes heifers and calves, while slaughter of bulls and bullocks allowed once given a fit-for-slaughter certificate, or if cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently unfit for breeding. Consumption and serving of beef in hotels and homes is allowed.

No Restriction

The northeast: The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1951 (amended in 1963), exists but no rules seem to have been framed to regulate or restrict cattle slaughter, which takes place in various parts of the state. Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, with a predominant Christian population, have no restriction on cattle slaughter and beef is openly sold in cities like Shillong, Dimapur and Aizawl.

Arunachal Pradesh has no legislation on cow slaughter, and communities consume the meat of yak and mithun. Tripura has no legislation either.
In Manipur, cattle slaughter is restricted under the Proclamation of Maharaja’s Durbar Rules of 1939, but beef is largely consumed in the hill districts with large Christian populations.

Kerala: There is no restriction on cow slaughter in a state where beef is eaten by a large section of people. Beef is sold at meat shops while cattle is traded at weekly markets across the state.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dinner party at the house

Last night, we hosted a dinner party for a few friends.

The theme for the night, was Moroccan.

We started off the dinner with:

a chick pea & noodle soup

The mains consisted of two dishes:

a tajine of chicken with lemons & olives

a tajine of lamb with figs & sesame seeds

The meal was accompanied by:

a couscous salad with chickpea & goat's cheese + a serve of spiced eggplant (aubergine)

The dessert wasn't necessarily traditional morrocan. It was more of a Nigella Lawson theme:

Gin & Tonic jelly + a margarite ice cream

Dinner at 1911 Restaurant

Last week, as a farewell to Jules & Don, we went to dinnerat "1911" restaurant; located at "The Imperial" Hotel.

It was a lovely dinner with the best steak (it's been awhile since we've had a decent steak). Here's a collection of photos for your drooling pleasure:

A very tasty French Onion soup

The very tasty steak

A group shot

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A visit to Udaipur

The first few days of the new year were spent in the town of Udaipur. It was quite a lovely getaway. We did a lot of shopping, saw the sights (incl. the Palace) & had a lovely dinner at this great place called “Ambrai” with some lovely friends that we’d met in Rawla Narlai.

Here’s a selection of Tania’s photos from Udaipur (my film photos to follow):

If this palace looks familiar, I think because it was in the Bond film "Octpussy"

Udaipur at night

Some more of Udaipur by night

This is the group out to dinner at "Ambrai": Back row (L to R): Don, Jules, me & Gen. Front Row (L to R): Anne, Nick & Tania

I think the boat featured in this photo is meant to be the royal boat

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Jain Temple at Ranakpur

On our drive to Udaipur, along the "highway" (yep...still a goat track at some points), we stopped at the Jain temple in Ranakpur.

Jainism is an offshoot of Hinduism. They believe that the path to contentment and mental peace is thorough a culture of nonviolence which originates from a rational mind and a pure heart.

I found this prayer that details the belief system:

May we follow in the footsteps of JINs, the victors, those who have conquered their passions of anger, pride, intrigue and greed.

May we follow the ideal of VEETARAAG,of being free from attachment (RAAG) and aversion (DWESH).

May we minimize our passions, and practice the virtues of nonviolence, truth, non-stealing, purity of body and mind,and non-possessiveness; and promote fairness and equity among all.

May we eliminate delusion, misconceptions and blind faith, adopt a rational outlook by accepting ideas and concepts based on our study, observation, experience and common sense.

May we understand the universal truth that everything happens according to the laws of nature; in the affairs of the universe, there is no hand of the supreme being or supernatural phenomena; our lives are shaped by our own thoughts and actions, and by the animate and inanimate environment around us.

Further, the function of all living beings is to assist each other; we all depend on each other and on our environment for our survival.

Therefore, may we minimize violence of various kinds, and fulfill our duties toward each other and toward nature.

May we restrain our desires and limit our needs, and protect the environment by avoiding the waste of natural resources.

We believe in multiplicity of viewpoints.

So may we look at things from others' viewpoints as well and be tolerant of other religions, ideologies and customs.

We believe that no overall good of mankind can result from violence.

Nonviolence, selfless purpose and contentment lead to happiness.

May we inculcate these virtues in our lives.

Here's a nice photo of the Jain Temple without the crowds

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year’s Eve in Rajasthan (much better than Boxing Day)

Tania & I met up with Jules & Don in Jodpur where we undertook a 2½ hr drive down the “highway” to a place called Rawla Narlai. It is here that we would be spending New Year’s Eve.

Now...I use the term “highway” loosely because what we drove on varied in places from surfaced road to goat track to no road, back to goat track to road under construction or various combinations thereof. It was quite tiring drive (only 160km), not helped by Tania in the back going “Are we there yet ??” every ½ hr !!

Eventually, we made it.

The place is an old Maharaja’s fortress (17th Century) that became a hunting lodge...a sort of “getaway” for the elite. The family (the Maharaja Singhji family of Jodhpur) still own the place & decided to turn it into a hotel.

If you want to know more, the website is:

We were told to be ready for 7.30pm & to meet in the courtyard, where a magician would be performing for us. The magic show was kinda lame but the kids loved it.

At about 8.30pm, we were guided to oxen carts that took us to where the main festivities (& dinner) would be held. It was about a 15min ride out of town to this amazing temple complex & reservoir that was all candle lit.

The ride up the track was quite peaceful & meandered through all of this rocky outcrop. It sort of had a bit of a “Picnic at Hanging Rock” feel...minus the creepy music. We could actually see the stars & hear the quiet !!

Dinner was a buffet assortment of western & Indian styles that was quite nice. We had Rajasthani musicians, fire walkers & dancers playing away all through the night. We headed back to the lodge at about 11.30pm (via 4WD this time) & got back in time to grab a drink & see in the New Year.

Here's a selection of photos from the night:

The nice room

The bullock cart taking us to the dinner

This is the reservoir complex that was lit up with candles (lots of dust in the air)

Yep...we even had a fire walker

The dancers kept going all night

A Memorable Christmas (for all the wrong reasons)

Christmas this year was spent in Delhi with friends. Don’t get me wrong...Christmas itself was wonderful. We got up early & opened up all the presents & then headed over to the High Commission for a turkey lunch (with all the trimmings) at Louise’s place (see below):

One of the young peacocks decided to make an appearance

It was Boxing day that sucked the big one.

We were heading down to Agra & the Taj Mahal in the early afternoon. We arrived at Delhi train station (the mass of humanity there has to be seen to be believed) relatively early, only to discover that our train was delayed by about 5 hrs (due to heavy fog).

While we arranged for a car to drive us down to Agra, we headed over to Connaught Place to grab a coffee & a bite to eat (first mistake).

We went into the “Lavazza” coffee shop & deposited our bags by the door, but out the way (second mistake).

We sat at a table, then moved to another table, I then went to the toilet…can you see where this is heading ?? By the time I came back, my backpack, with both our clothes, was gone. We were distracted for only a few short minutes but that was enough for someone to grab our bag & walk out of the shop.

Thankfully, we didn’t have passports, credit cards or cameras in the bag but that was a really good backpack they stole !! Tania wasn’t too happy about losing all that makeup either !!

The annoying thing (amongst several annoying things) is that there was a young woman sitting at a table beside us who saw that whole thing !!! That woman later came up to us & apologised to us for not doing/saying anything.

Not wanting our friends (Jules & Don) to miss out on the Taj Mahal, we packed them up into the car & sent them on their way while we then spent the next four hours dealing with the police & lodging a formal report.

The Indian bureaucracy didn’t let up as we filled out the forms: we couldn’t write it in blue pen (had to be black) & they wouldn’t let us (for some reason) use the word “stolen” in the report. The word “missing” was fine but you couldn’t use “stolen”.

We got back home after 5½ hrs (minus bags) & just shut ourselves off from the world.

It was truly an “I hate this place” moment.