The Maharashtra government has banned cow slaughter. The amended Act puts a blanket ban on the slaughter of bulls, bullocks and calves, too. However, the slaughter of female buffaloes and buffalo calves can continue, but only with the permission of relevant authorities. The intention is not to criticize or disobey the decision (it may go to the High court) but to put forward a point of view based purely on facts. It is true that many people eat beef as it tastes good and is cheap. Beef, generally seen as the poor man’s meat, costs almost a third of mutton. Mumbai alone consumes nearly 90,000 kg of mutton every day, sold through 900 licensed stalls and an equal number of illegal stalls. Beef is consumed in large quantities in foreign countries too. Vienna steak is famous the world over.
The new Act will, however, allow slaughter of water buffaloes, which provides carabeef — generally seen as an inferior quality meat that makes up only 25 per cent of the total beef market in the state. Beef traders claim the move will not only render thousands jobless, but will also drive up the cost of other meats in the state. A gradual and calibrated approach is always better taking into account any deep adverse effect on any particular section. India must study what the other countries like Germany, Russia and Argentina are doing in this matter. How are they looking after their cows?
Who will be affected? How many people will be affected, how will the cows and bullocks be looked after? Will it not give rise to illegal, clandestine and unhealthy slaughter? The cows and buffaloes will need water to drink and fodder to eat, are we paying attention to these things? Are we setting up wash water recovery plants, desalination plants for providing drinking water, taking steps to curtail wastage of water etc? These are the things on which urgency is needed.
We must seek foreign assistance in various matters which will also include animal husbandry. Cow dung has been used in villages to apply on hutments for cleaning purposes. Cow dung cake was applied on hutment walls for drying and later was used as fuel. However, the ban doesn’t mean that we ask people to stop eating beef overnight, all of a sudden. It is necessary to have dialogue with everyone and seek consensus on this issue. “Hum sabko saath lekar kyon nahin chal sakte”.