“Force feeding beef to Hindus is OK in India?”
Voicing concerns in India is always selective. While on the one hand, pseudo intellectuals champion campaigns such as #NotInMyName. Strangely enough, they go silent on issues like triple talaq. The same people have a big issue with teaching Sanskrit in schools but defends Tukde Tukde gang under the name of the “freedom of choice.” Similarly, everyone talks about beef ban, no one talks about illegal cow smuggling and smugglers. Who are not only atrocious on cows but also kill people in cold blood, including India’s Border Safety Force Soldiers.
It is very important to know the truth, which is an open secret within an industry. Industry that trout itself, as a symbol of status and glamour. Few outside the industry barely know the truth but they should. I am talking about the fascinating, prestigious, alluring Hotel Industry.
The topic that I am writing today, is very close to my heart, as I had personally been a victim of it and so have many others. Many people just blend into the scenario or quit, but raising your voice is not an option in most of the cases. As a trainee, you are training and preparing for a career, but you are asked to betray your religion mainly if you are a practicing Hindu, if you are to continue.
Imagine a situation if a Muslim student in a Hindu dominated and Hindu owned culinary college is forced to eat or cook pork? This news will spread like wild-fire, names will be called out like Hindu terrorist, intolerance in India, atrocities on minorities. Which would not be limited to India but spread across the globe by journalist like Barkha Dutt writing in anti-Hindu articles in Washington Post. The New York Times would write extensive articles maligning Hindus and obviously BBC would relentlessly shame both India and Hindus. There would be an epic backlash from the Muslim community, all around the world.
Disappointing but true, this is never talked about if it is the other way around.
Glamorous life of 5-star hotels, expensive and exotic menus, place where all the pseudo intellectuals sip their French wines with Cuban cigar. The place where guests is the boss and is always right.
In these same hotels, the practice of force-feeding beef to Hindus is not a hidden secret.
Let me start from the beginning. The majority of the employees in the primary operations departments in hotel industry, Front office, Housekeeping, Food and Beverage (F&B) Service and F&B production/Kitchen, have a hotel management diploma or degree, for which they have attend anywhere between 6 months – 4 years of courses and have to go to institute or colleges. During their studies, they were required to take several theory and practical lessons on various subjects, cooking being a part of it. Where they are taught from basic cooking, Indian cooking to intentional food.
The facts that I am going to present are not just rumor told to me, I have witnessed incidents personally, as a part of the hotel industry. I am a practicing Hindu since my childhood, who went to a hotel management college in Mumbai. It has a predominantly Muslim Students body and managed by a well-known Muslim Trust, with various educational businesses throughout the city and across the country. Obviously, I will refrain from mentioning their name directly, as I do not want anyone taking illegal actions on any locations, people or institutes mentioned or hinted in my article.
When students go for kitchen practical, the menu is decided a day before of the practical. Two students are paired to complete the practical and finish cooking the food on the menu. Yes, you are right, there are times where beef is a part of the menu and regardless of your faith, belief and religious practice you will have to cook beef. How could or would you will escape eating and/or cooking an animal sacred to your family? You might call in sick but what if the menu is part of your practical exams? You will fail if you do not attend that exam, it is as simple as that.
Hotel management courses can be expensive, costing lakhs of rupees every year. If you fail that year, you must repeat the year and pay fees, all over again. Lot of students come from a humble background and cannot afford to waste neither their time nor money repeating a year. What is my option but to cook beef? Although, we were never forced to eat beef it in my college. However, I have witness lot of students start consuming beef, for the first time in their lives during the year of their practical term at hotel school. There were also, students like me who remained true to their belief and do not consume beef. The most preposterous reason I have heard to star the practice of eating beef is “What if a guest does not like the food you served or cook? And they tell you to try for yourself, what will you do? Get into a habit of eating everything, “IT IS FINE.” I have lived and worked in 3 different countries, met guests from across the globe. Never, have I witnessed anyone asking me to eat something, which I cannot eat contrary to my religious beliefs. The Anti-Hindu Bias and mindset that is breed locally within the industry, in college and work place, mainly exist in India.
While, the religious belief of some were protected, to a great degree, as alcohol (as I mentioned, the school was an Islamic institution), was not allowed even for practical in food and beverage service, when we were learning different types of service for wines and learning how to make cocktails. We were made to use water as a substitute. During an annual college festival a well know Wine company (Sula Wines) was stopped from sponsoring the event, because they wanted to display an advisement banner for their “wine” on campus for 3 days. A prominent chicken supplier was rejected as a sponsored for an annual dining event for not being religious enough meat supplier. The Head of the departments of culinary, said he wanted to us to personally witness the chicken being slaughters to make sure the Chicken is halal and a “Halal Certificate” provided by the company was not trust worthy.
This is the same college and same chef (who was well-known in the industry and had served as an Executive Chef for major 5-star hotel group, later he dedicated his life to Islam) who made students cook beef regardless of their religious belief.
The story does not end at the gates of my college, it gets progressively worst. I am a good cook (yes, sometimes I boast about myself) interested in culinary field, as career but I did not choose the kitchen. Why? Should you land a job, at a major hotel in India in a continental kitchen you might be forced to eat beef. The reason, “How do you truly know your product, unless you taste it.” According to this reasoning, if I became a surgeon, I would have to under go a surgery before operating on anyone else.
Obviously, all these incidences occurred before the recent beef bans in some regions of India. I am not sure how things operate in the areas where beef is still legal. Knowing the industry in India, I have my suspicions. Most of the time, students select the restaurant/hotel industry, because they dream about the affluent and glamour lifestyle. The students are buying a gold-plated dream, with no delivery in sight.
Few years back the “liberal” media and political parties was outraged, by an incident that took place during Ramadan. A catering supervisor was force-fed regular food by Shiv Sena MP, while he was fasting in religious observance during Ramadan. Later the MP clarified that he was not aware of his fasting. This same outraged media would probably not open their mouth on these instances of discrimination, against Hindu Students.
I met a person in UK during my training, Sandeep (name changed to protect the identity) who is from Mumbai and was working in the Kitchen. He bought a beef sandwich, so I asked him if he ate beef. He told he never used to eat beef, even during his Hotel management college, but several months after completing his college he finally got a job, in a major 5-star hotel in Powai, Mumbai as a Commie II (Cook). On his first day of his new job, the executive chef of the property asked him if he ate beef and his reply was NO. The chef then put a piece of beef on a dish and asked him to eat. He was given no choice in the matter, as the chef told if he did not eat the beef, he would be fired for “incompetency.” Sandeep came from a middle class and his family had financed his education with loans. Sandeep had the familial obligation to help pay off the loan. Getting a job was not easy, so he did not have any option but to eat beef. All of this might sound outrageous and obnoxious but facts are hard to digest!
Guess, what? The chef was a Hindu and a known Maharashtrian chef, who had appeared in many TV shows and is awarded on many occasions by various organizations including Shiv Sena. I believe Sena do not know his true character and his self-hate for himself and his own community wrapped in the blanket of “professionalism”, or they would had never honored him.
Also, if you are the rebel and walk out of the job, possibly you might be blackballed in the industry or if you are a whistle-blower and by some miracle, you are still able to maintain your job, the repercussions are not easy to deal with. Using the industry power, exploitation is openly practiced and accepted in the Indian hotel industry.
I had walked out of the kitchen during my internship in another 5-star hotel in western suburbs of Mumbai, due to rejecting to eat beef. I was told they would not clear my completion certificate for Kitchen training, which is a part of the curriculum and student cannot pass the year without completing the training. I asked them to give this to me in writing and mention the reason that “I am not able to complete my training as I refused to eat beef.” Which for obvious reasons they did not give it to me but the last 3 months of my internship were hell on earth. I was made to work a minimum of 18 hours a day, even while training in other departments (average shift is about 10-12 hours), completing unnecessary task like polishing thousands of silverware and glasses (which was not necessarily needed), cleaning other employee dishes by hand (we had a department that cleans dishes in machine, but not while I was on my shift) and several other task are given as a punishment. I was verbally abused by supervisors. You may ask anyone in the industry, how interns are treated and retaliated if they open their mouth. Mental enslavement and intimidation is alive and well in the Indian Hotel Industry.
This is just one example on top of my head, within the industry you can find several such instances, which I had seen only and openly practiced in India. This form of discrimination is not practice in no other country in the world, where I had worked. In passing, I had met several international chefs, who were flabbergasted and dismayed by these bias industry accounts and told me this is a bad practice and abuse of power. Their viewpoint was that the industry should respect religious sentiments.
For me this practice is a part of religious persecution of Hindus, unknowingly under the name of “professionalism” Hindus within the industry became a part of it. No one should be forced to do anything against their religious belief but if professional is the excuse, how come in the industry, no one witness a Muslim student forced to cook or eat pork and drink alcohol?
My question remains the same “Force feeding beef to Hindus is OK in India?”
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