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4

When you begin with a conclusion and backfit "science" to prove it, absurd things happen.The Holy Cow seems to be one such absurdity plaguing India these days. Trumpeting the importance of the cow, the Hindutva right governments are all out to "protect" said cows by preventing all cattle slaughter. While cow slaughter is already banned in most states, Maharashtra now takes another step up the bovine ass to ban all cattle slaughter, meaning calfs and bulls that could earlier be slaughtered with appropriate certificate can no longer be killed.

This, naturally has implications statewide as the bulls get reduced from economically viable livestock to a liability overnight in addition to the cows. The idea of bans on cattle slaughter itself is economically problematic in a country with a large number of poor people. From the obvious removal of beef as cheap nutrition for economically weaker sections to the removal of specialities on menus of non-vegetarian restaurants that serve beef (buffalo meat is tougher and not completely substitutable). From the removal of the prized beef from the meat exports leaving only the tougher carabeef (buffalo meat) to instant losses for cattle owners who will no longer have buyers for their livestock.

While the move is projected as a pro-Hindu move, in reality, there is a significant number of eaters who are Hindu, but even more importantly the economic loss to the cattle owners is largely among Hindus - since Hindus are greater in population, own land and livestock in greater numbers. The largest beef exporters in India are Hindu. Meat eaters can eat other meats, it is livestock owners that are left with nowhere to dispose off unviable livestock, let alone profit from it. As drought stricken farmers take up loans to transport bulls to cattle fairs in a desperate effort to sell them, they still don't find buyers. Who would buy bulls in an era of motorized transport and slaughter bans? What would one do with the bull? Our champions of the Hindu Rashtra appear to not have thought that far. Yet as drought sweeps Maharashtra, there is going to be an urgent need to sell people further driven to ruin by the cattle slaughter ban some con about why they cannot sell their animals for slaughter instead of feeding them non-existent feed and watering them with scarce water.

Alas, the problem is, in their hurry to protect, they haven't quite figured out what to do with the cattle that don't get killed. More than that, the impracticality not being a deterrent, they are aiming to expand such "protection" across India. Jharkhand may follow suit with a similar expanded ban. But how can this be done without appearing to be complete idiots?

The efforts are relentless. It helps that the greatest defenders of the slaughter ban have never been responsible for looking after cattle and are free to expound on the merits of a live cow over a dead one. Thus they are completely free to use all their creative faculties with scant regard for practicalities. "What we don't know can't inhibit us"appears to be the new mantra. All sorts of uses for otherwise useless cattle are being found - namely dung and urine.

The premise of the Gobar economy, as I've started calling it, is that excreta is more valuable than feed. Therefore, the grass that has passed through the body of a cow is not as valuable as the dung that exits the other end. Or, more accurately, you will earn enough from dung to cover the cost of grass PLUS the money you'd have earned from selling the animal for meat. And of course they don't get laughed right off the social networks because most people there have no idea what grass, dung or cow meat costs in India. They also appear to have no idea that fertile milch cattle too provide dung and urine as additional utility and ban or no ban, no sane cattleowner butchers milch cattle because they are too profitable to be sold for the one time price of meat.

Yet, they do not seem to have hurried to construct their cow protection centers - probably because their rural staff aren't complete idiots and will be wondering where the money for care comes from once the propaganda utility is over. Still, it does not serve to stem the torrents of absurdity spewing in social media in a desperate bid to prove that an economic loss inflicted on cattle owners by those who profit from ideology and not cattle; is not actually a loss.

Here are some such statements:

Would you kill and eat your mother?

No, but I wouldn't tie her in a shed either.

A cow doesn't have to be given special feed if she isn't giving milk. Just grass and water.

Grass doesn't manifest from thin air. It grows on land, has to be cut into bales, transported, fed. Paid for. Grazing can only last so much. But of course, you can always leave your "mom" at a garbage dump for some takeout. In Maharashtra where we have drought in a fifth of the state before the monsoon ends, we are talking of an animal that drinks an average of 60 liters of water a day. Have you ever watered a cow? I have. A twenty liter bucket and half each time offered twice a day doesn't sound excessive at all. Particularly in hot weather. This would be ferrying three LARGE buckets of water PER COW, DAILY. In places like Marathwada, children are quitting school to help families find and ferry enough water to survive. There are people marrying water wives not so far from Mumbai - their only job is to ferry water. Someone want to explain how simply giving water to a cow three times a day is a minor thing for the sake of faith? How many of the loudmouth laptop jockeys would ferry three buckets of water out of respect for their real mother?

Uses of cow dung and cow urine

The uses of cow/bull dung and urine are the same whether the cow is a productive one or non-productive one. Makes no sense to maintain a non-producing animal for the sake of excretion. Additionally, buffalo dung is practically interchangeable with cow dung as fertilizer or plastering floors and walls of mud homes.

The government has jumped in with all its four feet to make cows more useful.

Maharashtra is now promoting organic farming

This is no doubt a very welcome step, except the government is also promoting GM crops. Organic farming depends on a very robust ecosystem of organisms that keeps pathogens and pests at bay. Genetically Modified crops have a high dependence on chemical inputs - which destroys the ecology. When push comes to shove, is the government that betrayed their largest supporter group to push GM crops, going to create the chemical free space organics will need? Let us see. If they do, it will be great. Unfortunately a cynical part of me believes that the farmers will be pushed toward the two opposite goals simultaneously and left to deal with the results and absorb consequences on their own.

Cow urine disinfectant

This is probably the most alarming of the lot. The idea is not entirely impossible. Cow urine is used in some organic pesticides already. However, the idea that because it is non-toxic for humans and can be safely used to control several pests does not automatically mean that it will work to prevent vectors of infection among humans. Inherently, there is nothing in cow urine that would prevent organisms that decompose living matter to thrive - cow urine, for example can be happily added to compost heaps without any harm to the decomposers in it. For that matter, so can human urine. Excellent sources of nitrogen to get a compost pile hot fast. For someone into organic farming, the idea that anything that can be added to a compost pile will prevent growth of microorganisms is a little difficult to digest. No pun intended.

Still it is possible that the cow urine is processed in a manner that enhances its action against pathogens. Not impossible. There are many other organic products that have proved safe for medical use - for example sphagnum moss for absorbent dressings or maggots to clean infected wounds.

There appears to be no conclusive research that would indicate its suitability in an environment where humans in fragile health would be kept. To run a trial of such a disinfectant in the ICU of a hospital - monitoring or not treads into several problematic areas.

  1. To begin with, trials are best conducted by scientists and not politicians.
  2. Trials conducted without consent are ethically problematic.
  3. Even utility in a human environment would not establish safety in a situation where sterility is a requirement. Many pathogens occur naturally in the environment but are rarely a problem unless they manage to find a host. Examples would be Fusarium wilt in plants or tetanus among humans. Given that hospitals often have patients with injuries and the target use appears to be sterilizing instruments in an ICU (of all things!), the risk also needs to be assessed in terms of safety around open wounds.

By default, organic and sterile have a problem co-existing and while I am all for organics, it is important to recognize that hospital treatments are often not organic to begin with. The need to promote a cow urine based product, with dubious and currently unproven safety directly in a high risk environment stinks of "research" invented by PR departments. A scientific mind ought not to have a problem with systematic testing for target use before deploying in real life situations.

A scientific mind ought to have a problem with human trials without consent and a scientific mind ought to be asking who is responsible if irreversible infections happen.

All this STILL will not explain how unviable cattle can find an alternative viability that is greater than the input into their care. It still will not explain how cattle dying horrible painful deaths from plastic ingested in garbage heaps where these "mothers" are abandoned by their "sons" is more pious than cattle well cared for till they are finally butchered. It does not explain how cows abandoned at garbage dumps but buffaloes and bulls (till recently) being fed well for slaughter respects cows. It does not explain how it respects cows for them to be turned into an economic liability for owners, nor does it explain what the government's right is, to pay public funds for the passive upkeep of thousands of animals that could feed people, while people die of hunger.

Even Savarkar had recommended allowing cattle slaughter if that made economic sense.

But is our cow infested right wing willing to relook at the gobar economy and allow the poor to make choices that sustain them?

Extraordinary events ought to be documented somewhere, and when it comes to a media consensus, the secondary chroniclers of our era are bloggers. So I am looking at this moment in amazement where all of India seems to be in complete consensus on several things. This is pretty much the narrow band of reporting on the Tehelka Rape Case, which has my bull shit alarms blaring.

[Tweet "The narrow band of reporting on the Tehelka Rape Case has my bull shit alarms blaring."]

There is no doubt that if the incident happened as the victim says, and considering that Tejpal did not deny the details, it is rape. However, it is increasingly looking that the larger agenda is to destroy Tejpal rather than justice for a rape and this worries me, not because I have any love lost for the man, but because it threatens the livelihoods and work of many working at Tehelka who had nothing to do with the rape.

[Tweet "The #TehelkaRapeCase is full of anomalies and contradictions with our normal behavior."]

  1. A fleeting penetration by fingers is rape. That is what the law says. I agree completely with that. But the staunch insistence on it being an unforgivable sin, to the point of complete agreement across perspectives is something I am witnessing for the first time in all these years of speaking about women's rights. I would appreciate this agreement better, if the ones usually objecting to such definitions and pulling exceptions to argue rules weren't the ones with a grudge against tehelka. To understand what I mean, go back to the debates around the new law after the Delhi Rape case and see what many convinced of rape now had to say about a stricter definition of rape then. The most amazing part is not even the MRAs - who are practically guaranteed to argue the innocence of men are touching this one. If it is real, we can consider many problems on women's rights solved. Alas, I am not that gullible. This is a special case. Please note that I am saying it is rape - not defending Tejpal at all, but I am questioning the lack of the usual diversity of views seen.
  2. Who are the evil targets? Tejpal, Shoma and anyone famous who agrees with them in the least. This is a media war. Actual actions being similar to Shoma's is not a problem, as we see from the complete absence of questioning of the silence of the 3 colleagues the victim confided in - as long as they say and do the right things - which is accuse Tejpal of rape and anyone the least sympathetic to him of a cover up - which they did. So actual hiding of the crime for 10 days is not a problem for us. Some suggested it was probably out of respect for the victim's wishes. Strangely these are the same someones who demanded ignoring the victim's wishes when she didn't want an FIR.
    [Tweet "It is a media war. What you do is less important than who you criticize."]
  3. There is a calling out and shaming of people who invested in Tehelka. This, I don't see as relevant unless the target to bring down is Tehelka. I assume Tejpal did not require anyone to support his body parts while he raped if they had invested in his company. So when many news organizations go after that information anyway, I cannot help but assume that the news agenda is to find anything holes can be found in, rather than the rape alone. Which makes me wonder what else is going on.
    [Tweet "Is the target of media attention Tejpal as a rapist, or bringing down Tehelka?"]
  4. The same goes for the THINK festival company (I forget its name - in which Tejpal owns 80%, Shoma 10% and Tejpal's sister 10% - That one) I fail to see how it is relevant to the rape either.
  5. Deny *any* good done by Tejpal and anyone associated with him.
    1. Tejpal stepped down unconditionally. It wasn't like "I'll step down if you agree not to pursue this further" So while it is not the "atonement", it most certainly wasn't a limit imposed on the victim seeking justice. On the contrary, if the woman wanted to continue at Tehelka as she was urged, she would be able to not be threatened in her work environment at least initially till the situation evolved or resolved.
    2. Shoma at one point took a considerable risk under pressure to uphold the victim's wishes on the FIR by stating that she would refuse to cooperate unless the victim wanted it. For someone facing tremendous fire from all directions in addition to worries about survival of the organization, this was a very brave call courting further difficulty. She couldn't sustain it, and it didn't matter anyway since victim herself cooperated with the police.
    3. Tejpal's daughter is the only person apart from Shoma to confront Tejpal on the basis of the victim's reports. Both are demonized, while supporters of the victim are seen as those who hid the crime for 10 days and did nothing between the three of them to confront Tejpal privately either - if making a scene at the festival was a concern.
  6. Interpret facts to taste. Of the people who have resigned, one was known to have resigned at or before the festival, who is shown as resigning in outrage over this incidence - and she has spoken to media claiming this. Two others are among those who concealed the crimes for 10 days but have quit over how the victim was treated by Shoma. This is being presented as Tehelka employees leaving in outrage over how the victim was treated.
    [Tweet "A perception of abandonment of Tehelka is created. Why?"]
  7. This one won't come as a surprise. It is a staple of crimes against women and justice for crimes against women. Other than Tejpal, everyone else bearing the brunt of criticism is a woman. Shoma, women journalists at Tehelka being stalked by obscene trolls on Twitter, Tejpal's wife and daughters (including the one who spoke up for the victim). Ironically, the victim of the rape is among the women journalists of Tehelka who are getting trolled with rape taunts about her own rape by the right wing "saviors" of the same victim - probably since the victim's name being kept anonymous didn't tell them which woman to leave out of the abuse. Three men who let the victim remain in continued danger got a free pass.
    [Tweet "We are back to women being attacked in order to fight men."]
  8. Complete belief in the victim. I do think this is a good thing. It beats victim shaming any day, but again, this is not normal for India. In a country where the Delhi Gang Rape had a politician going "jab maryada ka ullanghan ho jaata hain to sita haran ho jata hain", there isn't anyone - no politicians, no policemen, no woman in some university - no one commenting on a rape that had a man single handedly overpowering a woman, partially undressing her, performing/attempting oral sex and penetration with fingers in the time it took for a lift to travel two floors. Not that a victim's account should be questioned publicly, but it is a departure from normal that not a single person has commented on it. We have even questioned accounts of victims who got physically overpowered and abducted and called them consensual, but not this. I don't watch TV, but yesterday, Alyque Padamsee got criticized for asking why the victim went into a lift. I will not presume to know what he said and I'm not going to defend it, but I can say for dead certain - call me a paranoid bitch if you want - but if I got raped in a lift the first time, I would damn well not enter it with the same person and no one else a second time. The victim may have had her reasons to do it, and she doesn't deserve to be violated in any case, but I did wonder in terms of how a woman can have so little self-preservation to enter the same situation as her rape with the same rapist within a day of the rape. While lack of self-preservation is also no excuse for a woman being violated, I am finding this unanimity of views rather unbelievable.
    [Tweet "Would you enter a lift with a person who had raped you in it on the previous day?"]
  9. Unprecedented crime. This rape seems to have become something of a unique thing, with regular leaks, "perfect" support for victim, vigilance against intimidation before it happens, you name it. Such care is most certainly not normal for our media either. Remember this is the media that goes informing neighbours of victim's rape to get good sound bytes. And yeah, the victim was a journalist in that example too, so not like this is how they are when they protect their own. Nor is this how media treats powerful men misusing their posts, because in what could have been a parallel scandal about the supreme court judge molesting an intern if it hadn't died in media consciousness, we know the name of the victim, but not judge. Just saying.
  10. And the killer anomaly. This is the only incident in my memory where both Arundhati Roy and Brinda Karat agree with the right wing. And don't underestimate Arundhati Roy's ability to be contrary. After the Delhi Gang rape, she was talking about class / caste bias in rape arrests.

[Tweet "The Tehelka Rape Case is an unprecedented unique event in crime against women in India"]

So yeah. This case is unique in inexplicable ways and urgent and important to do vengeance on the perpetrator in ways not found usually.

I will add any other points that occur to me later, but suffice it to say, the extremely narrow track of reporting with telling diversions does lend credence to Tarun Tejpal's claim of a conspiracy. What it is is anyone's guess, but this cannot be ethical.

What Tejpal did is most certainly wrong. This does not mean that what is being done to him is right.

9

I don't have secrets. They take up too much brain power. I just have so much vivid detail that everything seems like discovering a secret. At the same time, I had never bothered to lay it all out like this. Good choices, bad choices, suffering, glory, all.

I did it now, because I realized that I have a deep clarity on the impact of various gender dynamics in my life. Most people experience this, but don't have the clarity to say, this, this, this and it was like this for me. The real impact of so many factors of our environment is experienced, rarely acknowledged. I realized that I had the ability to do this.

Each person has a story. Clothes are identity.

Initially, the series began as a defiant contempt for the lecherous comments about the slutwalk and women in general. It was a statement. Here I am. Plenty to leer at, plenty of vulnerabilities all mapped out so you know where it hurts. Saving you the fucking effort. Go ahead. I survived this shit, I'm not even going to be swatting at you. Look all you like, think all you like, say all you like, because it doesn't matter. I have a life. Been there, done that. T-Shirt didn't survive life.

You aren't doing anything unique, and if you think your grand leer will be etched in memory so that I'll think of your face every time I choose a shirt... hahaha good one. Next joke. No, you don't tell one more, you were the joke. Next lecher please.

But intimacy has a way of softening everything, even intimacy with self. Dignity begins with awareness. Awareness comes from learning. No one is born mature. Indian men in particular have very, very deep rooted conditioning about their superiority and about their right to judge women. They are obnoxious when they are crude. But are they intentionally evil, or simply getting kicks out of what they misguidedly think is stupidity?

An extreme form of this stupidity gets criminal. Lives shatter. But it takes living to understand the impact on that larger picture or microscopic individual beyond right-wrong, "they deserved it" or "I'm not like that". It isn't about any one or ten of us. It is the world we co-create.

I know for a fact, that it was incredibly stupid for a 16 year old to have a goal for finding a man and getting married at 18 simply to get out of her parents home. Would I have listened to anyone calling it stupid? No. My thought processes had me wrapped in thinking that that was my way out. It took years of living and introspection to admit that, even to myself. It wasn't wrong, per se. Just one choice, when I had better possibilities of responding. They weren't visible to me then.

We all do silly things we grow out of. Sometimes we never grow out of them. They are our choices and our mistakes to make. Our life to live.

I see the lecherous comments like that. I don't think shaming these men, or challenging them is useful. They have their convictions, and it is where they are in their life learning. Arguing doesn't change opinions. New insight does. No one is born perfect, no one achieves it even at death.

There is a Jungian concept called the Shadow Aspect. To put it for the lay man, we understand the world through a filter of our own thoughts. Its like the four blind men and the elephant. A woman in a dress can be sexy, shameless, fat, professional, slutty, caring, intelligent...... all or none of the above, depending on what's going on in your mind. You recognize what you have a mental concept for. When we criticize something, demean something all we achieve is exposing our thought processes.

With enough people with similar dirt, it may look acceptable, but that doesn't change the fact that its your shit in your brain. No one has an ambition to be bad. They are all doing the best with the cards they have. You may succeed in insulting a woman for your demons. The demons are still yours. Pointing endless women invading your world with things you don't allow yourself.

When a woman lives surrounded by judgments, I think, it doesn't make a dent on her awareness to be part of a massive crowd to know someone is watching the crowd and mentally masturbating, or whatever the commenters intend.

I would say to the assorted judgment parade, and specifically to the crude lobby, be there. Be there to stare, be there to cheer, be there thinking its useless, be there thinking its stupid women trivializing some profound shit, be there to marvel at the number of sluts in the world, or be there to be horrified at what the world is coming to. Whatever. History is happening. Its a moment of awareness. Be a part of it. It will validate your opinions, or give you food for thought.

Live and discover. Its the way of life.

The Series is in five parts: