Much has been said and written over the hot debated topic of Beef Ban. As there are good number of supporters in the favor of the ban, there are equal number against it. Citing the ban as an obstacle to personal liberty, the youth has taken to social media for expressing their opinions. The government didn’t budge from their stand, stating a number of feasible reasons. However, in this whole process of debating over the ban, a number of important factors came into the purview, one of them includes negligence of the government towards important issues.
‘It may be no exaggeration to say that beef has featured more in India’s politics than in its cuisine”, as rightly quoted in Indian Express. The decision to ban the beef, as a symbol of catering to the religious beliefs of Hindus completely discounts the various social and economic impacts of meddling with the food habits and choices of a multi – cultural as well as diverse society. The economic implications of the ban are the most serious and completely neglected. With most of the butchers and vendors losing their means of livelihood and the leather industry (employs 2.5million) being in turmoil, it seems as if the government has failed to consider the repercussions of the ban. With no alternative means of earning being provided, the government yet again fails in this decision to favor the minority rather than the majority. India being one of the top most supplier of beef internationally, the implications of this ban is greater than to be thought of. Also, the beef ban is restricting people’s access to an affordable as well as essential source of protein. However, this ban could draw only limited protests from the Muslim and the Dalit communities which resulted in no change in the government’s decision.
The President has finally passed The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, which extends the ban on cow slaughter in the state to bulls and bullocks and imposes a fine of Rs.10,000 and maximum imprisonment for five years for even possessing beef. Many other Indian states have also passed the legislation. The beef ban becomes one of the most perfect example of the non-secular treatment of the present government. The recent meat ban completely overruled the concept of ‘tolerance to diversity’. Also, a list of bans in the past months over controversial books, movies, re-criminalization of gay sex and even usage of the pre-colonial name ‘Bombay’ of ‘Mumbai’ in a Bollywood movie has increasingly contributed towards the question of personal liberty in the country during the present times.
From the dietary patterns to means of entertainment, the ‘democratic’ government aims at exercising control over every aspect of an individual’s life. During the election campaign of 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the previous Congress government of ensuring country’s growth on cow slaughter, an act considered as sacrilegious in Hinduism. Maybe the concept of secularism, respecting the diversity and personal liberty were out of government’s spectrum of ‘Acche Din’.
With the ban doing the rounds many business firms based in Japan, South Korea and also in the West are considering halting the transfer of their employees to India. Depriving their employees of something which constitutes as a part of their daily meal increases the concerns of these firms.
However, the government’s rationale behind the ban can’t be completely ruled out which includes keeping in mind the sacredness of the cows and encouraging the farmers to hold on to their cattle during hard times which otherwise they would have been tempted to sell for slaughter. Since years, the previous governments have (squandered) away billions on failed agricultural schemes with no fruits whatsoever. Farmers in India need a proper financial security and responsible agricultural plans to deal with present conditions and future inconveniences which maybe caused due to climate change rather than ancient propositions.
Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra and also a member of BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) are among the few who support the ban. He expressed his elation at the passage of the ban on Twitter by saying “our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality.”
However, this ban has met with strong criticism in Mumbai alone. Kalyan Karmakar, a marketing consultant turned food writer expressed his view against the ban saying that beef plays an important part in the street- food scene of Mumbai. Each area has different specialties in food pertaining to the diverse religious communities around it. With beef gone, the tradition and skill will also face danger of extinction.
Apart from this, it can also be cited that this ban will pose as a source to widen the gap between Hindus and Muslims. Also, it promulgates the arrival of majoritarianism. The recent shutdown in Kashmir as a protest to the ban can viewed as people revolting against a threat on their religion. PM Modi and his government has been accused of imposing their right wing ‘Hindutva’ agendas on the country with the introduction of such bans.
The substantial amount of time, money and efforts spent in coming up with a ban which ultimately benefits the beliefs of a small section of the Indian society could have been invested in numerous urging and pending issues such as the safety of women, unemployment, poverty, etc. The beef ban helps us to understand what has become of politics in India wherein sensitive topics like religion are used to make a major difference, rather coming up with initiatives for the betterment of the society.
The beef ban, in a nutshell, highlights the various issues in the country such as death of secularism, emergence of majoritarianism, manipulation of mass opinion regarding sensitive issues of religion and caste, increasing dissatisfaction among the masses, negligence of urging matters of social and economic importance. Though the Constitution boasts of secularism, the government speaks inequality. The government needs to learn to balance between the needs of the minority and the sentiments of majority. What India needs now is accommodation rather than implementation of age old belief system.