India is not a Hindu nation, a Christian country or an Islamic state. It is a democratic country. Our constitution boasts of a salient feature called ‘secularism’. The preamble to the constitution of India starts as: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic and to secure to all its citizens justice (social, economic and political), liberty (of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship), equality (of status and of opportunity) and fraternity (assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation). We are living in a democratic country, therefore the government and the judiciary needs to remain secular in their respective roles.
Secularism is the concept of separating religion and civic governance. In other words, the government should not take decisions, enact policies and pass laws in favour of a particular religion or with any religious implications. Beef has a better nutrition than chicken and mutton in terms of amino acids, fats and protein. It is the cheapest of all the meat available in the market and therefore beef ban is removing one’s affordable nutritional source from the food chain. The ban on beef in Maharashtra and other states of India is merely a move to appease the Hindu right-wingers like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal (BD). The government must be fully aware that the ban will only lead to illegal slaughter and far worse cruelties being inflicted upon the cows. The bill banning the possession and eating of beef in the state of Maharashtra and elsewhere in the country has received the assent of the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. Beef forms a staple part of the diet of members belonging to the Muslim and Christian communities.
The BJP-led government in the state of Maharashtra should have thought twice before implementing the ban. Beef is not expensive in India, and people belonging to different economic backgrounds can afford to buy and eat it, unlike mutton, which is far more expensive. Moreover, a lot of Hindus consume beef too but many Hindu religious leaders and fundamentalists may frown upon it. They obviously enjoy eating it and can procure it cheap. In a country like India where poverty and malnourishment are rampant, the importance of meat rich in proteins cannot be undermined. What one should eat or what one should wear or what language one should speak are personal choices of an individual and they simply cannot be imposed. The government is misleading the people through dirty politics.
(This is a first part of the article and the remaining part will continue tomorrow)