Beef Ban and Cow Slaughter in India – Facts And Whole Story

Beef Ban And Cow Slaughter in India: The True Facts/Image Credit: Rebecca O’Connor
The Beef Ban is making a lot of news, nowadays. Some people are supporting the ban and some are not (it is clear who is supporting and who is not, but there are people from major community who are also opposing the beef ban and surprisingly, there are some from minor community supporting the beef ban).

Now there is another news making a lot of noise after BJP led Maharashtra and Haryana state governments imposed the beef ban, the Central Government of India, also led by BJP, is planning to push the idea on national scale.

Though, it is highly fanciful to talk about the beef ban without knowing some basic facts. So let’s explore these facts before jumping to the conclusion.

The Cult of Gau Mata
From time immemorial, the cow is being treated as a symbol of wealth in India. However, they were neither revered nor dishonored in past. The cow gained the cult status of ‘Gau Mata’ as most of the Indians now prefer to call them, simply because Indians had heavily relied on the cow for its dairy products and dung for fuel and agricultural use.

Nandi: The Bull – Shiva Vahana/Image Credits:Wikipedia
The second reason behind such reasoning is the infusement of teachings of Buddhism and Jainism in Hinduism. Buddhism and Jainism, both offshoot of Hinduism, heavily influenced the concepts of Hinduism, when they first started to branch out. Both religions laid focus on Ahimsa and individual Dharma, which also required one’s obligation not only to humans, but also to animals, and every living being around us.

Thirdly, because of Hindu beliefs, the whole universe is a form of Bhrahman, and there is divinity in all of us. They started treating cow and other animals as form of divinity. (Though one can argue, Hindus only started acknowledging divinity factor, after the birth of Buddhism.)

Fourthly, the rise in cult status of Gau Mata can be linked with the lord kirshna’s childhood stories or link with Shiva and Shakti. The Buffalo and Cow are seen as muscular and feminine forms of Dharma.

First Cow Slaughter And Medieval India.
There is a general perception that first cow slaughter in India happened with the arrival of Islam. Not because, they hated Hindu population, but due to their inability to eat or adapt with vegetarian food. They came from such a place where meat is only source of food, and vegetation is very hard to grow.

Though, some ambitious Muslim Kings who wanted to expand their territories used cow and cattle slaughter as a form of war crime, along with rapes of women, demolitions of sacred structures, and loots. One such example is, Ahmad Shah Durrani, the founder of Durrani Capital, during his fourth attack on Delhi in 1756-57, filled the sacred Amrit Sarovar of the Golden Temple with blood of slaughtered cows and rampaged the cities of Agra and Mathura with major hindu populations. And another famous example is, Aurangzeb, who allowed the cow slaughter, just to disgust Hindu population.

However, It is not always same. Some muslim rulers banned the beef. There are some excellent examples of Muslim rulers who do not want to hurt the feelings of the majority population. Babar, the founder of Mughal Empire, was first known Muslim ruler to ban the cow slaughter, and in one of his letter to his son Humayun, he advised him to follow his step and not to overrule the ban. The ban on cow slaughter was continued with Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, but revoked by Aurangzeb. But again imposed by one of the latter generation Mughal Emperors, Ahmad Shah, and Bahadur Shah Zafar.

In the latter period of Mughal empire, and with the rise of Sikh and Maratha empires, Hindu and Sikh Kings again imposed the ban on cow slaughter and corporal punishment to the death penalty for anyone who is involved in cow slaughter or in eating beef meat. One such example is a public execution of Muslim butcher in 1775 by Maratha Kings for cow slaughter, and the men who bought the meat were also fined mostly Muslims, but also one Hindu.

When Queen Ruled The India.
With the rise of British Empire, India again saw the rise of cow slaughter as Europeans were font of beef. In 1760, they built first slaughterhouse in Kolkata, India. And by year 1910, there opened more than 350 slaughterhouses to fulfill their bovine meat needs. One of the major reasons behind the revolts of 1857 against British Empire, was because use of cow and pig’s skin fat in the artillery.

Poster Against Cow Slaughter/Image Source: Wikipedia
By the rise of twentieth century, Hindus started treating cow as mother and Muslims did exact opposite. This maybe because Muslims were financially better community than Hindus at that point of time. India was divided on food and religious background, and majority of the communal rights between Hindu and Muslims happened because of cow slaughters. The difference between Hindu and Muslim also widened by the Queen as she wrote in favor of cow-slaughter, instead of understanding the real problem, in a letter to then Viceroy of India.

As I pointed out earlier, the cow slaughter was major reason behind Hindu-Muslim communal feuds. In recorded history of 167 major communal feuds among Hindu and Muslims, 22 cases were directly attributed to cow-slaughter.

What is Happening Now?
According US Department of Agriculture report in 2012, India produced 3.643 million tonnes of beef, and out of which India, alone consumed 1.963 million tonnes of bovine meat. According to the report, India is 5th largest beef producer and 7th largest consumer of beef, and the world largest exporter of beef.

It is important to note that majority of bovine meat or beef as we call it, is obtained from buffaloes not cows, or oxes. And all of the bovine meet, which is exported outside, is from buffaloes not a single cow. The overall national income from beef export is 21,000 crore.

Currently, there is a ban on sale of cow meat in 30 out of 36 states and union territories, and the six states, where cow meat is allowed is either non-hindu majority states, or states with large tribal population. But there is one problem, India don’t eat the cow meat.

What Will Happen If We Go With Beef Ban?
If India is going for complete nation beef ban, India will be a killing 21000 crore industry within no time. Simply, making more than 1 lac people out of their business, out of the money, and everything. And simply saying, it is not 1 lac people who will lose their work, it will be more than 1 families who will.

Creating more jobless people, as inter-connected industries are also going for radical change, like the hotel industry, leather industry (which is one of the major focus in Make In India plan), travel industry and so does other industries, who are also not directly connected with beef industry.

Creating the unharmony among the people and communities, as it will widen the gap among the people, in terms of money, and social structure.

As it is pretty costly to do pregnancy sonography on cows and buffaloes (not humans), farmers will discard the male calves more often, as their maintenance will appear pretty costly to them. As most of the farmers, use technology and government also encourage farmers to do so, these male buffaloes are of no use. Though the situation will be good for bovines, but it will not for farmers, especially dairy farmers.

What is the Solution?
I believe there is a solution for every problem. And there is solution for this problem too. And the Government don’t have to look somewhere else for the solution i.e. in any part of the world. They just need to scan through some of the state laws, like Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and Assam, where cattles are only slaughtered, when they become fit for slaughter or permanently debilitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity.

Or if the Government want to go for a complete beef ban. Go in a systematic manner. As this ban will directly hamper many lives, associated with beef and leather industry. The Government has to ensure the living of those people who are associated with these industries and support them to acquire new skills, so they can earn their living. For the beef consumers, the Government has to aware them with other alternative food resources and their benefits. So this transition can be smooth.

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