The ban on beef slaughter to prevent ‘religious sentiments’ from getting ‘hurt’ is utter bullshit.
The Indian cow does not stand as an isolated religious symbol of the Hindus, in a void and devoid of any other socio-economic considerations.
To begin with, India has a thriving live-stock economy. Concentrated mostly in the rural parts, in a bad year for farming, it exceeds the Indian agricultural economy. The cattle owned by the farmers are sold and provide the sole means of sustenance to their owners.
Even in good years of farming, old and unproductive cattle are sold off to buy new ones. This happens in a cycle and keep the agricultural economy rolling.
Farmers and rural cattle owners, unless under deep financial distress, hardly sell off their milch cattle. The milch cattle are more profitable for the farmer in their cowsheds than sold off.
Secondly, the unproductive cattle thus procured from farmers, serve as the raw materials for the huge beef and leather industries of the country. In revenue terms, they earn a considerable part of the foreign exchange that India earns every year.
India is the world’s largest beef exporter and ranks second in terms of export in leather goods.
Banning the slaughter of cows will spell out disaster for not only the rural economic ecology, but also these two very flourishing foreign exchange generating industries.
Thirdly, due to maintenance costs, the farmers usually let go of their unproductive and aging cattle which go to the slaughterhouses. If that option is ruled out, the farmers will simply abandon their unprofitable livestock on the streets and India will be stuck with massive bovine herds roaming around on the roads, causing disruptions and occasional accidents.
And fourthly, beef forms an inalienable part of the popular cuisine in at least 12-15 out of the 29 Indian states. Traditionally, in those states, beef is interwoven in the social fabric of the people, as is proven by the hostile stand of a few southern and North-Eastern states to the attempts of legalising beef ban in the country.
And lastly, the beef produced for internal consumption forms one of the cheapest source of animal protein in a country rife with hunger and malnourishment.
As far as my experience goes, beef forms a part of the staple diet only for those who cannot afford the more expensive mutton or lamb. Apart from religious tokenism, no one eats beef voluntarily when they can afford the tastier variants of red meat.
As it is already scientifically proven that the actual ‘development’ prospects of a country is directly proportional to the average height of its children, the snatching away of beef from the plates of millions of Indians will definitely spell doom for the country in the long run.
Hence, to conclude, we can only infer that the ones clamouring for the banning of beef and cattle slaughter are imbeciles who have no clue of the role of cattle in the Indian socio-economic context.
Giving the slightest importance, let alone legal sanction, to their demands will be a disaster.
– Debraya Mukhopadhyay