Directive Principles of state policy are not enforceable by any court; however the makers of the constitution laid these guidelines to assure that free India becomes a just place for even the weaker section as well as for agriculture and animal husbandry. While the past governments paid heed to some of these principles viz. free education to all children aged 6 to 14 years and advancement of minority and backward sections, the area that craves for government’s courtesy is the directive principle, ‘The State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.’ Many of us do not even know that there is no law that explicitly forbids consumption of beef and legislations governing slaughter of cattle vary from state to state. The country, where Hindus form the majority and for whom cow is a symbol of strength, generous giving, abundance of earthly life, and sacredness, embraces states that do not at all restrict slaughtering of cattle; we rank 5th in world in terms of beef creation and 1st in terms of exporting; now that is a clear breach of trust with Hindus. The story isn’t old when a couple of senior IPS officers of the state of UP could trace a link between cow smuggling and funding of underworld and anti-national activities.
The concern which finds a due place in the constitution of India is not a matter of worry for the politicians, may be since they are more anxious about minority votes. It is in the open; many states ban shipping of animals across state borders, but cows are regularly shipped to states with lesser or nil restrictions on slaughtering; several thousands of cow slaughterhouses operate in India, unlawful ones are at least ten times in number as compared to the legal ones. In the state of Andhra Pradesh, the brutality can be noticed with the fact that the state has only 6 licensed slaughterhouses; however more than 3000 of such places run unlawfully and produce thousands of metric tons of beef. Then are the perks associated with the production and exporting of beef; in the year 2012-13 export earnings from processed meat were close to INR 18,000 crore. Isn’t it weird that in a Hindu-dominant country, the food processing ministry had announced subsidies of INR 15 crore to modernize abattoirs? Then, while in Europe and Australia, stunning animals prior to their being slaughtered for food is a compulsory norm, India has no such norm, and backed by the demand of Gulf countries that insist on Halal meat, most of our beef production is without stunning, thereby meaning killing of a conscious living being.
Protectors of law are very well aware of the rampant abuse of animals during transport and slaughter; they are overloaded in trucks and are transported abruptly without food and water. I was speechless to witness a video showing some young men pinching the tail of a cow in such a manner that it was forced to move into a small car, post which was taken for slaughter and feeding. FIAPO, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations, complains of letting off of vehicles carrying cattle by police officers thus cheering unlawful slaughter just for the sake of a few pennies. Aren’t we then letting a person kill the faith and morality we have been carrying since ages? Let me share a few more numbers. According to India’s livestock census, India consumes 300 million cattle, and 185 million sheep and goats every year. Despite of setting up various committees and expert groups to look into the critical question of banning cow slaughter in India, we have been promoting schemes like Pink Revolution that provides subsidies and tax breaks to owners of slaughterhouses and exporters. The advocates of this law say that officially only buffalo meat, with 11 lakh tons of shipments in 2012-13, went out of the borders of India; however it is broadly known that abattoirs consider no difference between buffalo and cow, the latter being exported illicitly.
I can reiterate the words of our present PM who wanted a Green and White Revolution in India. The condition is warranting also because our total cattle population fell from 204 million to 199 million between the 1992 and 2007 livestock census. Isn’t it shocking that in the state of UP where Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955 bans slaughter of cows and considers the same as cognizable and non-bailable offence, more than 5,000 cows are taken to unlawful slaughterhouses every month to be butchered? Same is the case with other states. Findings reveal that root cause of slaughter of milch cattle is the unnatural conditions under which animals are kept for milk production in urban areas, while economic necessity is the reason behind slaughter of dry animals. Way out can be what many other countries have followed, which is removal of cattle from cities and arranging milk supplies from rural parts of India. The same would also boost the development of cattle and dairy industries. Let me also quote the words of the Cattle Preservation and Development Committee appointed in 1947, which read as, ‘This Committee is of the opinion that slaughter of cattle is not desirable in India under any circumstances whatsoever, and that its prohibition shall be enforced by law. The prosperity of India to a very large extent depends on her cattle and the soul of the country can feel satisfied only if cattle slaughter is banned completely and simultaneous steps are taken to improve the cattle, which are in a deplorable condition at present.’
Isn’t it undeniable then that there is a pressing need of a central law on the subject of slaughtering of cows, Goddess of Hindu groups, and superseding of all state laws with respect to slaughtering of cattle? A department/ ministry for cow protection, functioning under the union government, can also be thought over. Provisions for maintenance and care of serviceable and unproductive cattle and for development of feed and fodder are desired; Gaushalas and Cattle Protection Societies and Salvage Centers be encouraged.