Monday, July 7, 2014

Ramalakshmi’s fight against non-vegetarianism in Govt functions.

A rare and unusual news was reported a few days ago which I think had gone unnoticed. It was about a woman named Ms Ramalakshmi who went to court seeking a direction to put a stop to on serving non-vegetarian food in the Government functions. The money used comes from tax-payers. Many of the tax payers would not have relished the idea of their hard earned money going to kill life to find its final destination in some one's stomach. As such it is not right to use that money to kill life and serve as food. This is her line of argument.

The court accepted her argument and directed the Govt of Tamilnadu to stop serving non-veg food in govt functions. This was in 2012. The Govt too accepted it. But this practice had not stopped. Hence the present petition by the woman. It must be noted that the court had appreciated the substance of this argument and allowed her to propagate non-vegetarianism. 

Two instances were recalled by me on reading this news. One was the decision by Reliance people (Ambanis) to stop the sale of non-veg food  in their food outlets, after the share holders raised an objection to their money going into killing life.

Another one was a recorded version from an Austrian traveller of the 18th century where he said that animals were not killed for any purpose in India. To quote his words "Their (Indians) total abstinence from all flesh, and the express prohibition of their religion which forbids them to kill animals, prevent them from dissecting them and examining their internal constitution." ( 'Birth and education of children" Book II, by Fra Parlino Da Bartalomeo who was in India between 1776 to 1789)

This shows that non vegetarianism was not in vogue in India. Even onion and garlics were not consumed by people as early as the 6th century according to Fa Hien's chronicles. But some Tamils may quote Sangam Tamil texts that speak about people killing and eating animals. In Patthu pattu such descriptions are found. But one must know that those are about people living in remote areas of the forest and mountains where food is not available there is not much scope to raise vegetarian food. Side by side descriptions do exist in those texts of the Vegetarian food consumed in townships. The other contexts on consumption of non veg pertain to warriors eating non veg food.

But Tamil lands and India as a whole had come a long way after the end of monarchy. For quite long vegetarianism had come to stay with increasing spiritual awareness among the masses. "Ahimsa paramO dharmah" is the dictum told in Mahabharata. Killing for reasons other than Yajna purpose was never allowed, says Chandogya Upanishad. Krishna had elaborately articulated the effect of different types of food in our body and mind in Bhagavad Gita. He insists on the need to stick to vegetarian food for spiritual progress.

Until the 18th century all Indians were steeped in spiritual ideas and hence practiced abstention from non-vegetarianism. Though things have changed after Colonial invasion, things have worsened in the past few decades. In this scenario, Ms Ramalakshmi's efforts are truly brave and welcome.

For long I have wanted to write elaborately on textual sources on Vegetarianism but could not. I welcome articles on this to be posted as separate blogs here.


From Times of India
Woman takes fight against non-veg food to High Court.

A woman from Uthangudi has returned to the Madurai bench of the Madras high court reviving her fight against non-vegetarian food being served at government functions.

"Serving non-vegetarian food at government functions should be stopped.
The functions are organised with taxpayers' money, including that of lakhs of people practice vegetarianism.

Their money should not be used to kill living creatures," said Ramalakshmi,
She cited Article 51(A) (g) of the Constitution, which says having compassion for all living creatures is a fundamental duty of every citizen. She made a representation to the government on December 29, 2011. As it was not considered, she took the matter to the high court, which appreciated her attempt, but said on July 8, 2012 that it was a policy decision to be taken by the government. The court allowed her to propagate the idea, following which she organized demonstrations and public meetings. A year later the government accepted her request in a communication dated March 12, 2013.

However, non-vegetarian food was served at the conference of collectors and police officers in Chennai on December 11 last year.

"The matter was reported in all prominent news dailies. Upon seeing them, I was deeply disappointed," she said. "We are not interfering with an individual's food habits but when a public function is organised with public funds, the sentiments of lakhs of people cannot be ignored," Ramalakshmi said.

When the matter came up before Justice R Subbiah, her counsel M Kannan said the earlier decision to serve only vegetarian food at government functions might have not been conveyed to all officials. The judge directed additional government pleader N S Karthikeyan to get instructions from the government and adjourned the matter.



Plea filed seeking to direct Tamil Nadu govt for issuing circular to depts on veg food

Madurai: A petition seeking to direct Tamil Nadu government to issue a circular to all its departments regarding the policy decision that only vegetarian food could be served at government functions was filed before the Madras High Court bench here.

Justice R Subbiah directed the counsel for the government to get instructions on the matter and posted the case for next week.

The petitioner E Ramalakshmi, a follower of Saint Ramalinga Adigalar, a proponent of "Jeevakarunyam" (compassion to all living beings) submited that the Director of Tamil Development had informed her on March 12 last year that her representation to serve only vegetarian food during government functions had been accepted by the government as a policy.

She said she came to know from media reports that non-vegetarian food was served during the Collectors' and Police Officers' conference at Chennai on December 11 last year, which was against the policy decision.

Ramalakshmi said she was "deeply disappointed and depressed" that the Chief Secretary had not chosen to implement the policy decision and intimate about it to various departments and sought the court's intervention in the matter.

Related articles:

Animal sacrifice – how Veda Dharma views it?

Non- violent silk in Vedic times?

1 comment:

ராணி பாலகிருஷ்ணன் said...

Vegetarian food is the best one for private and public functions .. I appreciate ms. Ramalakshmi