Holy cow: a wave of violence casts a shadow over India’s democracy and economic prospects

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh: cows are ‘holy’ among many Hindus in India not as a result of religious dictum or a ruling by a religious authority, but merely due to cultural tradition (source: dpa)
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh: cows are ‘holy’ among many Hindus in India not as a result of religious dictum or a ruling by a religious authority, but merely due to cultural tradition (source: dpa)

The cow, a docile and useful animal in itself, in India has always been something of a political beast. It has emerged in the forefront of the country’s political agenda again, after a series of gruesome acts of violence across the land – all in its name. This alarming trend weakens the international standing of India’s prime minister, who was slow to speak up. It also casts a long shadow on India’s hopes of becoming a more modern, creative society capable of competing in the global economy.

Over the last two years, three noted Indian authors and rationalists who spoke out against religious and cultural superstitions have been assassinated. Many other authors, journalists and artists ...

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