Holy Cow, really!

On March 19, 2010 – Indian state of Karnataka passed a law forbiding the slaughter of cow. The State Chief Minister Yeddyurappa defended the ban by claiming that similar ban already exist not only in several Indian states but also in Cuba and Islamic Iran. He also listed several medicinal benefits from drinking cow urinal.

According to some estimates, over 30% of world’s cow population is found in India. Since majority of Hindus consider cow as ‘holy’. Millions of them are left to wander the streets and slums of major cities. These free-roaming cattle usually become victims of automobile injury, malnutrition and lack of veterinary care. Increasingly, these animals are considered nuisance and are rounded up for removal.

M.B. Fazlie in his book Hinduism And Islam: A Comparative Study wrote that cow used to be slaughtered by the ancient Hindus for beef as well as sacrifice. There are clear evidences in the Rig Veda, the most sacred Hindu scripture that cow used to be sacrificed by Hindu for religious purposes. Mahatma Gandhi in his book ‘Hindu Dharma’ wrote about “a sentence in our Sanskrit text-book to the effect that Brahmins of old used to eat beef”.

Cynthia Stephen in article, titled Of laws and holy cows, wrote:

The BJP government may have brought in this law with the intention of putting pressure on the lifestyle and livelihoods of the minorities, but in fact large sections of the state’s population will be affected directly once the bill passes into law, including farmers, milk producers, and leather workers, most of whom are dalits and Muslims, and of course the common man.

One of the main reasons for the bill, claimed C T Ravi of the BJP, is the likelihood of shortage of milk due to the “current rate of cow slaughter in the state”. This assertion is refuted strongly by Mustafa Beig, a researcher and political analyst, and convener of the United Forum for Public Awareness. “There is a 2007 report of the cattle census in the Department of Animal Husbandry that has been kept unpublished because it will give the lie to this claim. The report says that between 2003 and 2007, the number of cattle in the state actually grew from 95 lakh to 1.49 crore,” he says. “No one sells milch cattle that are worth over Rs 15,000 to be slaughtered, so the claim is totally specious.”

It is estimated that every day, all over the state, about 20,000 economically unproductive cattle are slaughtered in about 10,000 shops, resulting in the production of about 2 lakh kilos of meat worth about Rs 2 crore. Other by-products generated such as hide, bones, horns, hooves, sinews etc are worth about Rs 1 crore. These by-products are also the raw materials for the leather, pharmaceutical and sugar industries which will be directly affected. The common man will feel the impact with the rise in the cost of products such as iron and calcium supplements, shoes, handbags, and sugar.

It is estimated that the production of meat from cattle directly and indirectly employs about 12 lakh persons, mostly from the poor and marginalised sections – landless and marginal rural individuals who buy, sell and transport cattle, producers and vendors of meat and by-products, etc.

As farmers and cattle-rearers will no longer be able to sell their cattle, they will be forced to look after them at their own expense, with no hope of economic gain. This will discourage them from rearing cattle and will actually cause a decline in the cattle population.

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