My Name is Biryani and I am Not a Terrorist

 

Shafiullah Anis

shafiullah anisMy favourite Biryani meme on social media says 'I can't make everyone happy, I am not Biryani!!" Biryani has always been associated with happiness and bliss in pop culture, but when Biryani gets associated with terrorism, I have all the reasons to get upset and invoke that cliché Bollywood tag-line in Biryani's defence. Yes, the ubiquitous Biryani needs a defence from the symbolic violence.

It all started during the post 26/11 Mumbai terror-attack judicial proceedings when the public prosecutor, Ujjwal Nikam, claimed that the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was fed Chicken Biryani and this was injustice not only to the martyrs but also to tax-paying Indian citizens. Later on, once the case was complete and justice was served, he retracted his statement saying "Kasab never demanded Biryani and was never served by the government. I concocted it just to break an emotional atmosphere which was taking shape in favour of Kasab during the trial of the case (emphasis mine)". By that time, the damage was already done to Biryani's image with its association with terrorism.

French Philosopher Pierre Bourdieu has an interesting view through his theory of symbolic violence on these damaging associations, when tacit and almost unconscious modes of cultural/social domination are thrust within the everyday social habits exercised over conscious subjects. This symbolic power is used to discipline or confirm an individual's place in a social hierarchy.

Once again the same imagery is used by the MP Chief Minister Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan in his statement after the alleged fake encounter of 8 SIMI-under trials when he said "How long can you keep them under trial? Some people even get chicken biryani in jail (sic)". It is interesting to note that in MP, where 52% children are malnourished, the mid-day meal served does not contain eggs-- the most affordable and rich source of Proteins-- after an intervention by the vegetarian CM. It is unimaginable that Biryani is being served to the dreaded terrorism under-trials.

Prison and Biryani

biryani meme

Prisons do not serve Biryani. The most common phrase that represents the hardship of prison in Hindi is "Jail ki Roti". This phrase underscores a common man's food staple and associates it with the deprivation of freedom and control of body as a medium of reformation and punitive justice, inside a prison. Philosopher Michel Foucault posits in his seminal work 'Discipline and Punish' that the body of the condemned, the offender, is a site of deliverance of justice in modern jurisprudence in a much more veiled manner than medieval times. Gone are the days of torturous crucifixion, severing of limbs, or their public display. Modern jurisprudence does not equate itself with the criminal that commits the crime. In this complex relation of humane punishment and inhumane crime, food has come to play a role inside the prison, a means of control and deprivation to the body that is theorised to help in correcting the wrong doing as well as the wrong doer. In such a case, it is unbelievable and appalling to imagine a prisoner being served the happiness called Biryani.

Categorisation of Food

Rohit Varman, Marketing Professor from IIM Calcutta, in his latest research titled 'Curry' writes 'in [...] India, with a deepening of caste-based divisions, consumption of food signified discriminatory practices, as it got associated with norms of pollution and purity. Low castes could receive cooked food or water from upper castes, but the reverse was not acceptable (Achaya 1994; Jaffrey 1987). [...]Bhagwad Gita categorizes beef, pork, and strong brews as "tamasic foods [that] are cold, stale, and highly spiced rendering the eater dull and slothful" (Achaya 1994, 77). On the other hand, milk, honey, fruits, chicken, eggs, and wine are "sattvika foods [that] are savoury, nutritive and agreeable, conducive to serenity and spirituality" (Achaya 1994, 77). Accordingly, consumption of sattvika food created a sattvika or tranquil and detached nature, while tamasic food produced a tamasic or coarse, cold, and brutal temperament (Parry 1985)[...].

There is an idea being incepted that Biryani is a violent food. The association of Biryani with Prison, Terrorism and Violence is delegitimizing it as a humane food. It is an attempt to out-caste and condemn the society that eats it. Such association has moved beyond the idea of purity and pollution. A new condemned social location is being created that is defined on the basis of food, the food of the condemned, of those who don't have a space inside the civilized society. This association is the symbolic violence that the dominating inflicts on the dominated as Bourdieu has warned us. It is high time to shout out that "My Name is Biryani and I am Not a Terrorist".

~

References

- Jane Goodman (2009). Bourdieu in Algeria: Colonial Politics, Ethnographic Practices, Theoretical Developments.
- Foucault, M. (1979). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books.
- Rohit Varman (2016): Curry, Consumption Markets & Culture
- MP denying egg to malnourished children Link: http://scroll.in/article/731585/not-just-madhya-pradesh- denying-eggs-to-malnourished-children-is-common-in-bjp-run-states
- Shivraj Singh Chauhan's statement after Simi-undertrials 'fake-encounter' : - http://www.firstpost.com/politics/cm-shivraj-singh-chouhan-says-undertrials-get-chicken-biryani-in-jail-calls-simi-operatives-dreaded-terrorists-3084082.html
- Kasab Never Asked for Biryani : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Kasab-never-asked-for-biryani-we-fabricated-it-public-prosecutor-Ujjwal-Nikam-says/articleshow/46639254.cms

~~~

 

Shafiullah Anis is an IIM Lucknow alumnus, Urdu Poet and a Researcher interested in the Marketplace, Society, and Culture.

Other Articles from the Author

Other Related Articles

"I don't have much belief in the system": Actor Vinayakan talks to the Media
Thursday, 23 March 2017
  Rakesh Ram S Vinayakan, a Dalit actor from Kerala, began his career as a dancer and has been an actor for more than 20 years now in Malayalam and other south Indian movies. Initially he played... Read More...
Interview with Dr Manisha Bangar on Current Issues & the Mulnivasi Bahujan movement
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Dr Manisha Bangar, Vice President, BAMCEF. In the interview, Dr Manisha Bangar talks about a wide... Read More...
Brahminical Patriarchy and Social Media
Friday, 27 January 2017
 Bhagyesha Kurane Social media has become an integral part of our lives these days. There are various notions prevalent about whether one should use social media, and if at all it is to be used,... Read More...
ब्राम्हणी पितृसत्ता आणि सोशल मीडिया
Thursday, 26 January 2017
  Bhagyesha Kurane सोशल मीडिया हा आपल्या जीवनाचा सध्या एक अविभाज्य घटक झालेला आहे.... Read More...
A short history of media as a tool of cultural hegemony
Wednesday, 18 January 2017
  Anshul Kumar "He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past" ~ George Orwell in 1984. Ever since the inception and evolution of mankind into a... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Media – The oppressor’s tool to divide and rule
Tuesday, 04 October 2016
  Vikas Bagde The media not only has a mass reach in the country, but is also able to influence this large population according to its wishes. Most of the time (or rather, all the time), the... Read More...
Post-Truth Politics and Dalit Question
Thursday, 22 December 2016
  Vinod Kumar The world is moving in a new direction in its political spectrum. Most of the old, developed democracies have come under the influence of the right wing forces with populist images... Read More...
ब्राम्हणी पितृसत्ता आणि सोशल मीडिया
Thursday, 26 January 2017
  Bhagyesha Kurane सोशल मीडिया हा आपल्या जीवनाचा सध्या एक अविभाज्य घटक झालेला आहे.... Read More...
War: Win Win Time for the Ruling Class
Friday, 14 October 2016
  Vikas Bagde To unite a diverse mass, one must create an external enemy, so that by considering such an enemy as a severe threat to their interests, those diverse people can be united. After... Read More...
ना जाती साठी ना मातीसाठी....आमचा लढा संविधानाच्या सन्मानासाठी....
Sunday, 18 December 2016
  Bhagyesha Kurane लाखोंच्या संख्येने येथे उपस्थित असणाऱ्या सर्व भगिनी व बंधूंना... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more