The ban on dog meat in Nagaland has sparked cultural anxieties in the northeastern state and other states in the region. The Nagaland cabinet took the decision following outrage on social media after pictures of dogs allegedly being transported to the state went viral. Nagas on social media have alleged that it is a form of cultural imperialism that has been forced on the state against its will despite the fact that the decision was taken by the democratically elected government of Nagaland. They also accuse that this was done without consulting the people of the state.
Efforts are also underway to turn this into a Northeasterner versus ‘Mainlander’ issue despite the fact that the final decision was taken by the Nagaland Cabinet. It only goes on to highlight the fact that the decision has the potential to escalate into something much uglier. Some on social media have claimed that “they are imposing mainland food habits based on caste forcibly on us.”
Others have claimed that the North East is not some ‘colony’ where ‘touchy vegetarians’ or ‘hypocritical meat eaters’ from the ‘mainland’ could impose their own culture.
One individual claimed that it was ‘racism’ in the form of ‘food authoritarianism’. However, he was countered by another person who pointed out that no other North-Eastern state had banned dog meat. He said, “Why blame the outsider for imperialism when the people who banned the sale of dog meat were locals elected by Nagas themselves”.
Cries of ‘food fascism’ and ‘cultural imperialism’ have been growing steadily. The BJP is also facing stark criticism for the same. Maneka Gandhi has been particularly active in the whole affair, as she has been in a host of such contentious issues.
Richard Kamei from Tata Institute of Social Sciences wrote in an article for East Mojo, “The concern towards dog for its meat consumption is hypocritical with crocodile tears while they attribute Naga tribes to be cruel and disgusting for dog meat consumption.” He added in the article, “This is a classic case of cultural imperialism and racism in the name of showing love for animals. The inability to acknowledge and accept cultural difference is now new and has subjected thousands of them to racism.”
Kamei also says, “The ‘dog meat ban’ should not be seen in isolation from beef ban.” Throughout all of this, he conveniently forgets to mention that the ban on dog meat was a consequence of liberal imperialism and an independent decision of the Nagaland Cabinet. It has nothing to do with racism at all. He is a PhD candidate at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Moreover, the people who campaigned for dog meat ban are actually opponents of any ban on beef in the country. These people had actually supported people’s right to eat beef during debates on beef ban in the past, hence it is illogical to link the dog meat ban with any plan to extend the ban on beef to Nagaland.
It further highlights how liberal imperialism has the potential to exacerbate existing fault-lines within the country. For instance, the ban on Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu was used by fringe elements to foment divisions between Tamilians and the rest of the country. A similar ploy appears to be underway with regards to the ban on dog meat.
Liberal imperialism has become a great cause for concern in recent times. For instance, the controversy surrounding Sabarimala and the consequent violence that erupted in Kerala following attempts to desecrate the Temple was entirely a calamity that was the product of liberal imperialism.
Recently, there have also been attacks on the tradition of Temple Elephants where animal rights groups have attempted to rob Temples of their Elephants which has the intended effect of Elephants losing the only families they have known. Of course, these issues are quite different from a ban on dog meat but they are also a product of the same imperialist mindset of liberals.
The eventual fallout of the decision remains to be seen but it cannot be ignored that the dog meat ban could lead to enmity between Nagas and ‘mainlanders’, a consequence that could have been entirely avoided if liberals knew to not transcend their limits. Many people in Nagaland already believe they are neglected by the mainland, which had resulted in the separatist movement that is thriving in the state for decades. Such actions only add fuel to such separatist feelings. It also demonstrates that people’s supposed right to eat anything they want is far more threatened by liberal imperialists than Gaurakshaks.
The entire controversy also demonstrates that the liberal philosophy has very little to do with principles and only concerns itself with power. Liberals were only far too eager to withdraw their support towards the freedom to eat whatever one wishes when it suited their own purpose.