Nagaland’s Dog Meat Ban Could Further ‘Divide’ NE & Mainland India
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Nagaland’s Dog Meat Ban Could Further ‘Divide’ NE & Mainland India

The Nagaland government has prohibited the import of dogs and sale of dog meat, following objections from animal rights activists. Dog meat is considered a delicacy in parts of Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram. A section of liberals took to Twitter, hailing the Nagaland government’s move. But what was missing from the entire debate was the question of the right to choose one’s food. “The right to choose one’s diet is an aspect of one’s right to privacy, which, in turn, is an aspect of one’s right to live life the way he wishes and thereby live a lifetime of dignity,” Haresh Jagtiani, a Mumbai lawyer, had written during a piece on Maharashtra’s beef ban row. This became evident when many liberals mixed up the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam with that of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act – two contradictory legal concepts. The NRC/CAA debate thus ended up portraying the indigenous people of Assam and the rest of the Northeast in poor light, thanks to an illinformed campaign by some vested interests. A similar trend is visible in the latest controversy surrounding dog meat, where a section of liberals have called for a ban on a certain culture’s food as they found it objectionable, a tendency that borders on food ‘fascism’. This is a disturbing trend that could fuel the ‘Us versus Them’ mindset and create tension between communities. Even after 73 years of independence, the mainstream narrative about India’s Northeast continues to be informed by notions such as ‘exotic land’ and ‘strange food habits’, thanks to widely-consumed Bollywood films and other mass media which have distorted the image of the region over the years. As a result, a communication gap still exists between the Northeast and the rest of India. Even in the media, Kashmir gets more attention than the Northeast, though both share a few common problems such as militancy and lack of development. Social media trends also show how Indians discuss, debate, and share much more information about Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu than Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur. For instance, netizens outside the Northeast hardly share any thoughts on the flood-hit people of Assam, nor do they seem bothered about the extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA, seen as the most draconian law in post-Independence India, in Nagaland for six more months.

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