Public perception, especially perception in educated class regarding animal husbandry is that is not the ideal choice even for a farmer, not to speak for a minister to choose as his profile. Farmers continue to be imagined as poor, ignorant, crude, uncouth. Animals are best when prepared for table but not when it is encountering them live with all the dung and bestiality associated with them. Another presumption is livestock sector is only of marginal importance to our economy.
Public perception may well be erroneous but as creatures who do care for reputation or perceived image we may be prone to escape reality. And reality must be faced. Let us examine the facts.
Before I come to the status in our state I need to make an observation about a pathology of modernity called necrophilia – love for corpses which is Erich Fromn’s expression for our love for machine culture. Man has been created in divine image and this requires living with other species, seeing ourselves in them as sharing the gift of life. Nothing is more humanizing than contact with animals. One must understand why God required all prophets to rear animals, why machines are dehumanizing, why our greatest thinkers from Heidegger (one may read his essay on technology before arrogantly dismissing that brilliant analysis to Iqbal (ha dil kae liyae moat machinnoo ki hukoomat/ahsasi murawwat ko kuchal daetey hae aalaat) to Gandhi (who required two hours manual labour from every citizens including ministers, CMs, PMs – in our context I would suggest working for two hours in animal rearing activities) to Wittgenstein (who said that modern western civilization is simply doomed) to Coomaraswamy (who identified machine culture with death of art, beauty and soul) identified machine culture with death of human culture, why technology and management of political dispensation in so-called democracies linked to particular ideological, personal and class interests today are fundamentally inhuman, anti-human. We need to be better aware of post-Renaissance modernity’s devilish attempt to escape creaturely limitations, to substitute machines for human hands, to take nature as It rather than as Thou, to be fooled by the idea of autonomous self who is there to use nature as resource rather than to flow with its cosmic rhythms, to understand reduction of Homo sapiens to Homo economicus and what Hemmingway put as “lusting, fighting, killing animal” to understand the genesis of public perception. We share with earth and animals our home, our kinship, our destiny. There is no option but to love animals as requirement of human nature. Using them for some end comes later.
If the idea is living with dignity and move toward achievable nationhood, animal husbandry sector should have been a privileged profile to serve. If our economy is vitally linked to livestock sector and agriculture constitutes our most important sector of economy to which not only jobs but social health is linked, why the perception in public regarding its untouchability for the “elite.” Share in GDP of livestock sector is more than most departments combined whose ministering has been seen as a privilege. If we want to serve people, identify with what serves people. If we talk about sustainable development or respecting rights of the environment, it is livestock sector rather than tourism and other “white collar” sectors that we need to focus. If we talk about sab ka saath, sab ka wikaas, agriculture and livestock sectors should have priority (and we saw how in recent Union budget it was rather ignored despite increasing number of farmer suicides and mass alienation among farmers). We need to understand our state is mountainous, landlocked, not ideal for heavy industry or irrigated crop culture but livestock industry. We need to understand that ignoring livestock sector, farmers, livestock by-product industries and host of crafts to which raw material could be made available through better attention to livestock sector, has been one important factor for poor economy and begging bowl syndrome Kashmiris have been victims of and our leadership is responsible for the same.
How is it possible that many developed countries including Australia, New Zeland and US have given great attention to livestock sector to boost their economies and here it is considered beneath one’s dignity by many educated people to serve in this sector? A minister reflects public perception and fighting that perception should be the question. But who will lead from the front? Leaders or public who live in the caves of public opinion and refuse to see the Truth outside the caves?
People do have the right to ask a ministerial candidate whether the ideals he has expressed in his document on achievable nationhood are compatible with displeasure at holding charge of a challenging but a promising sector. We all need to remind ourselves about Plato’s distinction between opinion based on unexamined perceptions (mostly expressed today in Facebook, Twitter etc.) and Truth one learns by examining in the cool light of reason one’s perceptions. Fraternity of vets and paravets were happy that a person who is articulate, bold, better grounded for understanding predicament of common man, has good knowledge of potential of the sector is rather young would better serve the Department.