Is banning of cow slaughter motivated by religious sentiment or is it a direct attack on the ‘pink revolution’ that has steered a $5 billion beef export? We look at the factors leading to the violent protests in the name of the ‘holy’ cow.
In India, we have the habit of politicising every subject, from cricket to cattle slaughter. However, over the years, most Indians have come to realise that whenever a subject is deeply debated and a lot of liberals in the form of celebrities, activists and NGOs, come to the fore, dissecting every aspect of the issue, there is an underlying factor that is being suppressed.
If we look at the latest issue which created ripples all over India, it is the ‘Cattle slaughter’ issue. In May 2017, the Supreme Court banned traders from selling cows for slaughter in the market. India is currently the world’s largest beef exporter. With Narendra Modi making cow protection an important policy priority, this issue has virtually opened a whole pandora’s box with many people blaming the Modi government for favouring the Hindus in the country and deciding their food choices.
As a result, protests came in different formats, in certain states, people began to cry out that they were being attacked by cow vigilantes, (armed Hindus preventing people from stowing cattle to slaughter houses or elsewhere), people in states like Madras and Kerala, began hosting “Beef Fests” openly, in a symbolic protest against the ban, students attacked each other and landed in hospital. In one appalling incident, cruelty to cattle took a gory turn; when the youth wing of the Congress-headed UDF opposition in Kannur, slit the throat of a calf in public view, cooked its meat and distributed it around.
Behind the violent protests, many of which were politically motivated, lay doubts about why the mainstream media was making it such a big issue when it was the Supreme Court and not Narendra Modi’s government that had enforced the rule.
The opposition parties have been up in arms stating that the government cannot enforce what a person should eat. Ironically beef export is one of the biggest multi-billion businesses that several of the protestors have stakes in. And the ban on cow slaughter can certainly have an impact on their thriving businesses.
Even a casual glance at the list of Indian beef exporters will reveal that it’s mainly controlled by people affiliated with political parties, such as Congress’s Kapil Sibal. His wife headed the ‘Pink Revolution’ and they own ‘Arshiya Exports Private Limited, which in simple terms means, they ‘slaughter cattle and export it for profit.’
The other names as listed below have been in the news off and on, with no action taken against them. Now as the scene changes, all the blame seems to rest squarely on Narendra Modi’s government, pointing out that being a Hindu political party, they wish to protect the ‘sacred’ cow.
Top 10 Beef exporters in India
- Al-Kabeer Exports Pvt. Ltd.
Owners: Shatish & Mr. Atul Sabharwal
- Arabian Exports Pvt. Ltd.
Owner: Mr.Sunil Kapoor
- K. R. Frozen Food Exports Pvt. Ltd.
Owner: Mr. Madan Abott.
- M. L. Industries Pvt. Ltd.
Owner: Mr. A.S BindraDN
- Mr. Afzal Latif President M/s. Allanasons Private Limited. Allana Centre
- Mr. Sirajuddin Qureshi Managing Director M/s. Hind Agro Industries
- Mr. Mujeeb Malik Joint Managing Director M/s. ALM Industries Ltd
- Mr. V.I. Saleem CEO M/s Amroon Foods Pvt. Ltd
- Mr. Mohammad Atif Joint Managing Director M/s. Al- Nafees Frozen Food Exports Pvt. Ltd.
- Hazi Mr. Shahid Akhlaq CEO M/s Al – Saqib Exports (P) Ltd
But then, how does the rampant spread of cattle slaughter impact the common man? Here are some facts which prove that the ban could be beneficial for man, the environment and cattle:
Environmental Impact: The obsession with red meat is affecting the environment in that cattle slaughter houses requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. This puts pressure on dwindling fresh water supplies and destroys forests and grasslands that are turned over for grazing. Soil erosion, soil and water pollution from fertilisers and animal waste are other ways the meat industry impacts the environment.
So the biggest favour any government could do for its people and the environment is to ban them and thus reduce the carbon footprints. An interesting interview by Professor R Vaidya further elucidates this factor.
Illegal smuggling of cattle to countries like Bangladesh, leads to black money generation and theft of our indigenous cows. And to make things worse, cattle are transported illegally in the most inhumane manner. The smugglers use water routes from villages to cross over from India to Bangladesh. The cows are first kept in remote villages and bound to one another by long iron-chains.
Cattle slaughter houses do not always use the most humane methods to kill them. Many a time cattle are skinned alive, pulled by their tails and made to die in slow stages. There are no rules to ensure that animals are unharmed before they are killed.
Unlike cows, buffaloes have an added advantage of being reasonably good draught animals, especially in the current context where most tillage and field operations are anyway performed by tractor-drawn implements. To the extent animal draught application is limited to carrying the load, buffaloes even score over their bovine cousins. A single male buffalo can easily lug 25 quintals over 10-15 km, whereas cattle Bullock cannot do beyond 15 quintals or so. A rational solution for farmers would be to sell buffalo meat as there is no religious taboo attached to it.
Red meat has been the main cause of heart diseases and the elimination of red meat will lead to a healthier race. Taking care of your health in the long term will have a larger impact on the environment and cattle.
With the new rules for cattle welfare coming into force under the Environmental Ministry, many of these factors will come under consideration, such as:
A ban on setting of cattle markets within 50 km of an international border and 25 km of a state border. Taking cattle outside the state will require special approval of the state government nominee.
The rule also prescribes about 30 norms for cattle welfare in markets, including water, fans, bedding, lamps, non-slippery flooring, veterinary facility and a separate enclosure for sick cattle. The rule says “young” and “unfit cattle” cannot be sold.
No cattle market will now be able to run without the approval of the district cattle market committee to be headed by a magistrate and having two representatives of government-approved animal welfare groups.
The regulation makes it mandatory for veterinary inspectors to certify proper loading and unloading of cattle to ensure they are not cramped inside trucks. The inspector can mark any cattle unfit for sale.
In conclusion, while opposition parties like Congress, create a ruckus over the ‘ban on cattle slaughter’ to protect their business interests, the government is working towards the benefit of protection of cattle as well as the environment.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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