The fishy defense is foul

By Ramesh Kandula

The state government has been correctly taken to task by many political parties and leaders for failing to make proper arrangements for distribution fish medicine, resulting in stampede and chaos during the event. But what one has not expected is the surprising reaction from a section of political leaders and activists.

Leaders like Congress MP Madhu Yashki Goud and several activists including Telangana journalists’ leader Ramesh Hazari came up with a new theory. The fish medicine is being targeted a) because it was being done a by BC family and b) because the annual affair is part of Telangana culture.

Hazari claims that the opposition from rationalist groups like Jana Vignana Vedika against fish medicine as being ‘unscientific’ is part of a conspiracy by the brahminical ideologues.

Madhu Yashki went a step ahead and charged the critics of fish medicine as being in the payroll of pharma companies. Both were certain that any opposition to fish medicine as being superstitious and unscientific was also anti-Telangana among other nasty things.

We are all aware that our society is very fractured at this juncture and people are divided over caste, region, ideology, political party, organizations and even petty self-interests. But what one would not expect is that these prejudices should be imposed even in the most secular and non-political issues like fish medicine.

It should be made clear that fish medicine became popular across the country and even the world because of the wide – and probably even over the top – publicity provided in 1980s by the same media – which the above gentlemen criticize as being castiest and coastal Andhra driven.

And secondly, fish medicine gained importance and exposure during Chandrababu Naidu regime when he had turned the event almost official by providing all facilities to the milling crowds. He even gave 5 acres of land near Katedan to Battina Goud brothers. So the charges of casteism or coastal Andhra bias don’t stick.

But the most important point is that anything irrational and scientifically not proven belief or method doesn’t become desirable or  holy  just because it is given the color of region and caste. The misuse of the word ‘local culture’ as being sacrosanct even if something is superstitious and unscientific, unhygienic and even fatal has become rampant among many of our ‘progressive’ activists and writers of late.

It is indeed the responsibility of the government to provide basic facilities when people gather for any purpose – even if the whole affair is superstitious. The officials concerned should be taken to task for their failure.

But to defend fish medicine as a ‘cultural practice’ and a ‘belief system’ that is beyond the purview of science and rational thinking and to invoke regional and caste bogey to come up with a conspiracy theory is most reprehensible.