India: New minister stirs up controversy with beef comment
INDIA has made headlines for its intolerance towards beef consumption, and recently, Union Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons kicked off a row by saying that overseas tourists should eat beef in their own countries before visiting India.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 33rd annual convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) in Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar, Alphons said: “They (foreign tourists) can consume beef in their respective countries and then come here.”
Alphons – who took over as Minister of State for Tourism last week – made the comment when asked about whether cow vigilantism and restrictions on beef consumption in several states had affected India’s hospitality sector.
However, just days before the IATO event, Alphons dismissed concerns over cow vigilantism and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration was a tolerant one.
He said, “The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) does not mandate that beef cannot be eaten. We don’t dictate food habits in any place. It is for the people to decide.”
India has long been embroiled in a “food war” over the consumption of beef. The BBC reported vigilante groups that call for the ban of beef sales had been formed and they’ve attempted to bring down those who transport beef products.
In the Hindu-majority country, cows are considered sacred and beef-eating Muslims have been called out during police raids.