Recently the Maharashtra government passed the bill that bans slaughter, sale, consumption and possession of beef. The penalty carried is a five year jail term or a fine of Rs 10,000 or both. The bill had been passed by Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government in 1995 but got the President’s nod now. The argument put forth by many is that cow is holy to Hindus. But the bill along with cows, also forbids the killing of bulls and bullocks and even possession of beef.
The bill comes at a time when a lot of Right Wing Hindu nationalist organizations have been stirring up controversies ranging from ‘ghar wapasi’, church attacks and other attacks on minorities.
The biggest problem with the law is that it will render thousands of people jobless and for what? Just to satisfy the religious hunger of the majority! If only cow slaughter had been banned and more stringent punishment been made the law would have made sense as people worship cow. But when the state decides to impose certain restrictions on the people and their eating habits not for the sake of health, economy, etc. it can only be seen as an invasion of privacy and personal choice. Not getting into a theological argument, I am a Christian and eating beef is a part of my culture and being a citizen of the country am I not entitled to practice my culture? Moreover, isn’t the ban on beef going to affect lots of people who work in the meat industry and render them jobless?
Another fundamental issue is the fact that what happens to the cattle owned by farmers. They are already battling poverty and when they are forced to feed the cattle till it dies of natural cause is not justified. Furthermore, beef is very cheap and provides high protein content in the diet. So it serves as an excellent meal for the poor and as the statistics say, beef is consumed maximum in India by the poor.
Most of India’s beef is exported – with a 20% share of the global market and exports worth more than $4bn a year, it is now the country’s top agricultural export. Buffalo meat accounts for 80% of the exports.
Having said the above things I would like to conclude by saying the government has the right to protect the religious interests of the majority but it should have limited the bill to cows. Extending the bill to cover other forms of cattle puts the culture of the minorities under oppression and has the risk of taking away many people’s livelihood.
P.S: I am not a Christian. These events were recorded by me. Featured Image: Flickr | Jeremy Keith