A beefy issue stalks JNU

Food politics

The demand of some stud­e­nts to serve beef and pork in the campus, has set the Left-wing dominated Jawaharlal Nehru University on boil again.

A student group calling themselves ‘New Materialists,’ are insistent that beef and pork be served in the varsity’s 10 canteens. They are being supported by Left-wing student groups JNU-SFI and AISA who have come to power recently with beef-serving as a key poll issue.

In fact, the ‘New Materialists’ are gearing up for a ‘beef and pork festival’ in the campus which right-wing students have sworn to prevent by all means. Students themselves are divided on the issue as Metrolife found out.

Non-serving of beef, pork and even dog meat is not a new issue in JNU. Till 1997, one of the 10 canteens here, Francis Canteen used to serve beef dishes on Sundays.

Reportedly, some students complained and ABVP took out a protest march, following which beef serving was stopped here.

This issue has been simmering in the campus ever since. A member of the New Materialists group, who didn’t wish to be named, told us, “We have been demanding re-introduction of beef and pork in the campus for some time now.

The hosting of a beef festival in Osmania University, Hyderabad, in April this year provided us the requisite encouragement. Now, we are adamant on conducting the beef fest if it is not served in the canteens.”

Pork, as such, is not completely banned from the premises. At the cultural fest for Northeast students – Northeast Nite – held in October annually, pork is not just included in the food menu, but is the main attraction.

JNU hosts an international food festival too, in which a large number of foreign students set up stalls and serve various non-vegetarian delicacies. Many students, therefore, do not see a problem with beef or pork being served in canteens.

Nassif Mohammad Ali, a student of MPhil (History) here, says, “In the state I come from – Kerala – beef is had openly by people of all religions. Similarly, in Northeast, pork is a staple.

“To say that these will not be provided is to deprive the large number of Keralites and North-eastern students here, their native food. In any case, I feel personal beliefs should be kept away from the varsity food menu. What I have on my plate should be no one else’s concern.”

Another student, Konkona Talukdar of Assam, adds, “Many of my classmates anyways get beef and pork from outside and cook it in the hostel. I don’t have problem
with it.”

Not all students though, Northeasterners included, are fixed on beef and pork being made available. Alvite Ningthoujam from Manipur, pursuing PhD in West Asian Studies, says, “It is a different matter when you are in your home state but Delhi is different. We should respect the sentiments of people here who revere cows and cannot see them being hurt.”

Gayatri Dikshit, a student of international studies and a member of ABVP, which is opposing these food items here, adds, “JNU is a higher studies and research institute. What is the need for beef and pork here? We understand student politics but it should not stoop to such levels.”

“JNU is anyway like an island in Delhi – it gives its students the maximum freedom to express themselves; but when beef is banned by various laws in the state and the country, why should it be allowed in JNU? Does JNU lie out of India?”

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