By Lekha Vijaya:
Regulation on bovine slaughter has been in effect in many states for a long time in India. The numbers in the list of such states have augmented with time. Most of the time the different regulatory laws and its implementation is passed on quietly. But recently what we are witnessing is an obnoxious effort in its implementation. Even the ban of a harmful pesticide like Endosulfan has taken the back burner. How holy the cow is for us. Moreover how mighty is the politics of the cow! It is hard to make a backlash against this ban, as the constitution itself had upheld it in its directive principles of state policy. Why is there such a contentious clause that itself is a constitutional paradox to the guarantee of fundamental rights?
It is a question of one’s personal interest to consume any kind of food. How can the state interfere in one’s personal affairs by passing a law? We are still far from banning liquor or tobacco products though its harmful effects are well established. We left it to the individual’s choice of consumption of something that is obviously harmful to their health. Then why beef! After all, it doesn’t cause any harm to one’s health. Now if the ban is addressing the question of cruelty to animals, why just the cow? Why not goat or hen or goose etc.?
Staying the Maharashtra Government’s meat ban order during Paryushan, a Jain festival, the Supreme Court asked what was the meaning of a seasonal compassion for animals. Similarly, why a discriminating compassion for the cow? To end cruelty to all animals by inhibiting all kind of animal slaughter sounds more sensible that a slaughter ban just in favor of the cow. Here come the religion and politics of the cow!
India is a secular nation and our sense of secularism is positive. Unlike the American approach where the state totally separates itself from religion, in India we adopt an inclusive approach for all religions. Our fundamental right itself guarantees all that they can follow any religion, profess and propagate it and the State has to keep away from it. By banning the slaughter of cow, a divine animal since the Vedic age for the Hindus, aren’t we upholding a Hindutva policy which is against this secular nature of our constitution? The recent development following the lynching of a Muslim in Dadri for alleged beef consumption is horrific indeed. How the BJP MLAs and MPs are belittling the attack and are trying it to project it as just a law and order issue of some miscreants is not fair. This is a clear case of religious fanaticism whether it is pre-planned or not.
Revering the cow or the pig is one’s religious issue and it should be dealt with accordingly. The Government allowing implementation of such harsh ideologies like the beef ban is like the state enforcing the interest of the majority community over the rest of the people. Where is the secularism in this? Being a person belonging to the Hindu religion, I love to eat beef. If I can eat meat or chicken without any ill feelings, beef is nothing different for me. A Hindu has every right to abandon beef from his life just like a Muslim in case of Pork. This is after all one’s personal interest. It is high time our Prime minister should make a statement regarding this incident. Moreover, India is a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic, it was never a Hindu nation.