Reckless bullying in the name of 'original' Indian culture
What is fear made of? The consulate-general of India in Frankfurt requested members of the Kerala Samajam Frankfurt to withdraw the beef curry they had included in their traditional menu for the Indian food festival arranged on August 31 by the consulate in the German city. A right-wing organization, allegedly the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, threatened to cause a ‘ruckus’ unless it was removed. There are reports that the trouble was inaugurated by a tweet from Suresh Kochattil of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who had earlier urged Indians not to donate anything to Kerala after terrible floods for those affected were rich. Mr Kochattil’s tweet, marked to the prime minister, the home minister and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief among others, expressed disappointment that the CGI Frankfurt was associating officially with the KSF’s sale of beef at the Indian festival. Would right-wing groups causing a ‘ruckus’ in Frankfurt have been enough for the CGI, Frankfurt to ask the KSF to withdraw beef? It would be expected that any civilized city would have a police force to deal with the kind of ruckus and worse that are allowed to reign in India as long as the perpetrators have the patronage of the dominant party and of right-wing groups. Mob culture is unacceptable in civilized countries. Perhaps the consul-general felt the heat of governmental disapproval although the resistance to beef was not ‘official’. The threats stood proxy for the feelings of the party in power, its parent and siblings — perhaps that is what fear is made of.
That reckless bullying of Indians in the name of Indian culture should now flourish far beyond the country’s boundaries is cause for deep shame. The KSF removed the beef item from their menu out of a desire for peace, although some of their members protested against the restraint of their freedom to eat what they wished. The objections of the right-wing group are particularly ironic since beef curry and porotta are part of Kerala’s traditional menu. The BJP is projecting a particular segment of north and west India as the site of the land’s ‘original’ culture and tradition. The projection is being deliberately made outside India as well. By giving in to fear within and outside, Indians are slowly losing their claim to be a free people.