While the idea of cow slaughter has been around in this land for thousands of years, it really seems to have become quite controversial in 2017. But there are some sound reasons for those demanding a total nationwide ban on cow killing in the first place…
1) It’s because that’s who we are
India is a country of 80 per cent Hindus and for most of them, the killing and consuming of cows is a sin on religious and traditional grounds. We have to respect that. It has been a tradition that has been upheld for thousands of years and respected by even non-Hindu kings as diverse as Babar, Hyder Ali and Ranjit Singh.
You can’t fight your identity. While you may say all that is in the past, that is not actually so. Even in 2017 most Hindus still do not believe in eating beef and this majority sentiment has to be respected. When India goes out of its way to placate the minorities, what is the logic of antagonising the majority?
2) Because it’s better to be kinder to animals
You can even make a case of banning all animal slaughter altogether, arguing that we have to be kinder to animals and be more in unity with the environment. That way at least banning the slaughter of all cows is a good beginning.
Cow slaughter in particular is a very cruel industry and the animals are put under conditions that could be described as tortuous right from the time they are tied up, transported to the ultimate conditions of the slaughterhouse.
3) It’s kinder to the environment
The way India handles the cow is an environmental marvel. The farmer uses cows to cultivate the fields. The milk is used as part of the dairy industry. Even the waste, or “gobar”, has its uses. It is a disinfectant plastered on village houses and in its dry form is used as cooking or in gobar gas plants and even as manure.
In a court case, the Gujarat government compared gobar to a Kohinoor diamond and the Supreme Court appreciated that.
In many areas in the world, cows are cultivated in large numbers for just beef and that has catastrophic environmental impacts on total land used for grazing, greenhouse emissions and water usage and effects on polluting aquatic ecosystems.
We don’t want to bring that type of culture into India.
4) We have an emotional attachment with the cow
China has a Lychee and Dog Meat Festival which has been absolutely blasted by people all over the world and even in India. Why? Because most people in the world share an emotional attachment with dogs.
Pet dog owners consider the animal as part of their family and many in India even have a problem with stray dogs being culled legally by the government. That way India has a much greater emotional attachment with the cow.
The cow is revered in rural India for many reasons as mentioned above and even in cities they are generally left alone and people touch them as a mark of reverence and blessing when they see them.
5) We have to follow the Constitution
Article 48 of the Directive Principles of State Policy declares that the state shall take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
That was the guiding principle for laws to be framed after Independence and in 1950 legislation was brought in West Bengal and Assam and in 1954 in Gujarat. 1955 was a big year and legislation was introduced in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. After that we saw the same in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka.
Some 24 of the current states have seen some sort of legislation related to beef and cow slaughter. It’s just a question of following the law of the land.
6) Uneven laws creating confusion
In fact, continuing on the above point, the problem is that the laws are different in different states and successive governments change, modify or nullify many provisions of cattle slaughter legislation.
It is time to end this non-uniformity and confusion and come out with a National Cow Slaughter Bill that will supersede all state legislations.
|It’s just a question of following the law of the land. Photo: India Today|
7) Illegal slaughterhouses are bad
Nobody knows the correct number, but there may be tens of thousands of illegal slaughterhouses in India. They encourage black money and the state does not gain any revenue on them.
Most of them are operated under really unhygienic conditions and they promote cattle theft. They are also big money earners for corrupt politicians and their ecosystem. A national uniform law will also go a long way in ending this illegal industry.
8) A legacy of our cultural values
Most of the Hindu kings supported a permanent ban on cow slaughter and they were supported by Hindu organisations. During the freedom struggle, the likes of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai were strong proponents of a total ban.
It’s time to complete this unfinished business.
9) Even the Supreme Court has been pushing it
A 1958 Supreme Court ruling stated that the people of India couldn’t be deprived of food in the form of beef. That ruling put a halt on a complete ban. However, that was totally overturned by the apex court in 2005 in a decisive 6-1 verdict.
That verdict did not even allow the slaughter of old and useless cattle as the following part of the judgment shows…
This is the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Vinobha, Mahaveer, Buddha, Nanak and others. It will be an act of reprehensible ingratitude to condemn cattle in old age as useless and send them to a slaughterhouse. We have to remember. The weak and meek need more protection and compassion.
In fact at that time the SC was hearing a plea relating to cow slaughter legislation in Gujarat, but it urged all other states in India to frame similar cow slaughter legislation.
10) It is a Congress-BJP jugalbandi
The Congress fought for cow slaughter ban during the freedom struggle and implemented legislation in most states where it still stands today. Its successor the BJP is a strong advocator of the ban. If the only two national parties have taken India in one direction, you don’t have much choice but to follow that path.
A much forgotten event in Indian history is the 1966 agitation. Thousands of sadhus tried to storm Parliament to force a nationwide ban and the Shankaracharya went on a fast. There was a total law and order breakdown in New Delhi as many died in police firing. Congress president K Kamaraj’s house was burnt down and home minister Gulzarilal Nanda resigned.
In fact, there is an urban legend on the internet that Swami Karpatriji cursed Indira Gandhi after that and that’s why she and her sons died unnatural deaths and nobody else could become Prime Minister from the dynasty!