In Parliament, on Thursday, BJP MP from Mathura, Hema Malini, raised an issue concerning a sub-section of her constituents. Apparently, Mathura’s monkeys are falling prey to the scourge of junk food — “samosa and kachori” and “Frooti”, in particular — having picked up the vice from their human cousins. Malini’s solution is to create “monkey safaris” to address the issue of loss of habitat, and to ensure the simians go back to eating “natural” and healthy.
Hema Malini must be congratulated for caring so much for those that don’t even have a vote. However, her approach is not novel: The cow has occupied centrestage in national politics for some time now, and especially in Uttar Pradesh. The state government’s approach has been to promote gaushalas, and earlier this year, it announced Besahara Govansh Sahbhagita Yojana, under which those adopting stray cattle — on the rise for the last few years, destroying crops and causing other kinds of damage — will be given up to Rs 3,720 per month. Monkeys, like cows, enjoy a sacred status among the majority community.
The problem with monkeys, though, especially the samosa-eating ones, is that like people, they are neither domesticated nor wild. They attack, snatch, chatter and conspire, and pick up unhealthy habits. It seems unlikely that they will return to a state of nature — what is a fruit salad when compared to a lip-smacking kachori? But the lovers of holy animals need not worry. There are enough of them left to protect. The swan is Saraswati’s vahana, the humble mooshak supports the rotund Ganesh and even the buffalo carries the god of death. There are, in fact, animals enough to turn all of UP into a gigantic divine safari of otherwise mundane fauna. The only ones left out are poor old homo sapiens. But, then, when have they mattered to the powers-that-be anyway?
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