Ban on the “Holy” Cow (Beef): A Political or Social Dilemma?


Beef: ‘the commodity between a religious political puzzle’

Is the ban on “Holy” cow a religious act? Do Hindus not eat beef? And don’t non-Hindus stay in India?

India is going through a “banning” period where very recently it has banned things ranging from the release of movies & documentaries to cuss words in Bollywood movies. Their latest ban is over beef.

Recently an animal preservation act was passed in Maharashtra, India that bans the slaughtering and consumption of beef. It’s a punishable act and the guilty will have to face prison charges for five years and a fine of Rs.10,000.

According to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, cow slaughter was already prohibited in the state but now according to the new act, slaughter and consumption of bulls and bullocks is punishable too. There is a loophole: the slaughter of water buffaloes is permitted as carabeef – meat from water buffaloes – is inferior quality meat. Not that carabeef is being served in the state either as the suppliers decided to go on a strike in response to the act passed.

While the officials of the state are happy with this decision, as they had been waiting for this bill to be passed from the past twenty years, many among the public aren’t. The beef-eating Hindus and non-Hindus are devastated as now they’ll have to either keep Rs.10,000 ready or will have to taste this delicacy only when they visit other states. The beef-serving restaurateurs, cattle traders and meat retailers are the ones who’ve suffered the major blow. The ban will put many people out of business and will also affect many low-earning families who preferred this meat because of its affordability.Beef ban: women place beads on a holy cow

Among the non-Hindu minorities, this is being taken as an extremely personal attack. India is a diverse-religion country and for other religious group who consume beef without any restrictions, it’s an offensive act for them. There also happens to be a huge demand for beef among Hindus.

Disapproving this decision of the Maharashtra Government, the Communist Party of India – Democratic Youth Federation of India(DYFI) organized a nation-wide beef-festival that kicked off on March 10th starting from Kerala. The president of DYFI and a Lok Sabha MP, MB Rajesh says, “Our main concern is that this ban should not spread to the rest of the country. There is no religious justification for banning beef”. To back up this statement, he also talked about how it’s mentioned in the Hindu religious text, the “Manu-Smriti” that every meat is edible apart from camel meat.

This ban isn’t only imposed on us humans but also animals that aren’t really a part of the political system. Nine Bengal tigers, three lions, fourteen leopards and three vultures of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai are now being fed a bird-only diet that basically just comprises of chicken. Though the animals are responding well to their new cuisine, the animal handlers are tense that their new diet will weaken them. Before the ban, the animals were served a mix of beef, water buffalo and chicken. But with the ban on beef, and no supply of water buffalo, the animals are only left with the option of chicken.

The main political parties behind this, namely Bhartia Jayanta Party (BJP) and the social group Shiv Sena believe it’s the right thing to do. To answer queries revolving around this decision as being a social, religious or a political one, their answer is that banning beef is to instill a “sense of compassion” among citizens.

This “sense of compassion” according to them can be instilled only by putting a stop on the consumption of beef, they don’t seem all that worried about the cows dying on roads every second day.

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