Archive for April, 2017

IMG_20151011_141529The central government continues to be taken to task for everything it does. It could be the beef ban picking up in BJP-ruled states or the human shield used by security forces in J&K. Let’s look at the cow first.

Why is a cow above other animals, cry out critics. Is this a democracy or an autocracy? Should the government prescribe diets? So on.

To me it is simple. And my view is more Buddhist than Hindu, so no pointing fingers please.

As long as we consume cow’s milk, eat butter, cheese and ghee, how can we kill and eat the provider? It is as unthinkable as eating one’s mother.

Yes, every life form must be respected be it a cow, tiger or toad. A civilised society does not require a government or court order giving a river its rights. It should know by default that rivers are life givers. Without them, we cannot hope to survive for long.

So, why should a cow be a holy cow? To the Hindus, the cow is revered as holy and bringing prosperity. They are a part of innumerable legends and myths in Hinduism, giving rise to the belief that nothing is worser than the killing of a cow. It is in this context the saffron brigade has imposed the ban on beef in many states. The logic being that in the land of the Hindu, the cow is sacred and must be protected.

Except in Kerala, where beef is largely consumed, the majority of Hindus in other states do not kill cows for meat.  This goes even for meat eating lot.

However, can one really place a ban and change eating habits of a sizeable population? Can bans based on religion work in a democracy? No. People have to make their decisions on what they eat. As long as beef is available in the market, consumers will want to eat it. As long as cows are sent for slaughter, there will be beef.

But where it makes sense is in the humanising of society, against slaughter of animals. All it requires is a visit to a slaughterhouse and watching the animal taken for the kill to turn many away from the act of eating meat. Can meat eaters instead take the knife themselves and kill what they deem necessary to eat? As one discussion online suggested, that should be allowed but organised slaughter of all animals disallowed. Not just cow.

Banning beef however is seen as being an act against the minorities, especially the Muslims who consume the meat a lot. Critics need to realise that as many if not more Hindus consume beef today in the cities. So, can the ban be termed non-secular?

I was witness to a particularly sad scene recently while on a visit of villages. In one village, a cow had just given birth but much to the disappointment of the owner, it was a male calf. I happened to see the newborn still covered in placenta, try to stand up but fall each time. The mother stood nearby mooing pathetically. Both were tied and separated. The reason was that the calf was male and destined to the goshala or beef market very soon. The farmer will milk the productive cow and place a bit of the milk for the calf to consume, not allow it to suckle! Industrial cattle rearing happening at a small scale. Or rather, unnatural cattle rearing where the cows are artificially inseminated every few months. And not even allowed to go near its calf!

Utterly inhumane. The cow has still to go through the pain of calf birth but not the joy of being a mother. After all, we have hijacked this mother whose milk we all drink, while its calf watches from a distance.

Ban all organised slaughter. Ban all unnatural cattle rearing. Ban cruelty. What a mirage!







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