Round Table India
Akunuri Murali, District Collector of Bhupalpally in Telangana, echoed the views of a major section of the Bahujans when he critiqued the dietary practices imposed by Brahminical culture, at a public meeting organised on the occasion of World TB day in the district, saying they led to a deterioration in the health of the people, especially the SC/STs. He was particularly harsh on those who take up Ayyappa and Anjaneya (Hanuman) malas (ritual vows) and follow Brahminical rules of avoiding meat. The Brahminical media and civil society were quick to take offense, called the speech 'controversial', and launched a protest campaign against the collector. The following is a transcript of key parts of his speech:
If you feel that meat is becoming expensive, there are forests nearby to you, you can happily catch the wild boars and eat them. It is very important.
SCs, STs – we are all those who eat 'big' meat (beef). But in recent times, this disgusting culture called Brahminical culture has descended upon us – I am saying this because it is the reality – telling us that we should not eat beef, and all sorts of other cock and bull stories, and making us stop.
In many villages, especially in Mahbubnagar and Rangareddy districts, whenever I stayed overnight, many elderly people there would tell me, "Sir we feel like eating beef, we are dying to have it, but they are not letting us eat in our village or in our homes". Another thing they would talk about is how healthy they used to be back when they ate beef. That they could do a lot of agricultural and labour work, but ever since they stopped having beef, they lost that stamina.
I found out recently in Ankangudem village when I did a night halt there: that people have started wearing these crazy malas (religious observances associated with Ayyappa, Hanuman worship etc and involving austerity vows, clothes and rituals) and stopped eating wild boar meat. If you ask why, they say that they are wearing a mala so they can't eat. Such nonsense! It's all utter waste! We should all happily eat whatever we are supposed to eat. Our bodies would be healthy only if we keep eating our food, which we have been eating for hundreds and thousands of years.
In our district, we have a huge number of wild boars, and I don't know if you know, but wild boar meat is expensive. If you go to a hotel in America, the most expensive item won't be chicken or mutton, but wild meat. Yet our people have stopped eating such wild meat and wild boar meat. On one hand, when I go to villages, farmers keep saying that they are facing a wild boar menace, and that boars are destroying the crops no matter what they sow. On the other hand, when I ask why they don't they just hunt and eat them, they say that they have stopped eating them! This is the contradiction we are facing today.
Recently, the Indian government's Forest Department has declared that hunting and eating wild boar is allowed. Unlike the meat of peacock, buck or other animals, boar meat is not illegal. So there will be no cases on you. You can eat abundant boar meat without worry, and I want the ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) and ASHA workers (Accredited Social Health Activists) to spread this word. If I come to your place and you serve me some boar meat, I will also eat. I haven't eaten till now, but let us eat, no problem!
Translated by Myneni Deepu.