I fully support the implementation of stronger laws that protect animals from being mistreated in the country. But it is quite clear that the love of animals is not the driving force behind the government’s ban on beef (cow’s meat). This is merely a move to appease the Hindu right-wing organisations like the Sangh Parivar, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal. The BJP-led NDA government should have thought twice before implementing the ban on beef in some States of India. Moreover, it is wrong to impose one’s religious beliefs with regard to meat consumption on any person who does not subscribe to such beliefs.
What one should eat or wear or what language one should speak — all these are personal choices of an individual and they simply cannot be imposed. The government is misleading the public through dirty politics. The ban on beef in some States is nothing but an assault on the rights and individual freedoms of the people of India. Beef has a better nutrition than chicken and mutton in terms of amino acids, fats and protein. It is the cheapest of all meats available in the market and therefore the ban is removing one’s affordable nutritional source from the food chain.
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 costly. Moreover, a lot of Hindus eat beef, however much Hindu religious leaders and fundamentalists may frown upon it. They obviously enjoy eating it and can procure it cheap. What will happen to all the people who cannot afford other forms of protein in their diet? Moreover, what fate awaits the cows that are being reared right now? Has the government worked out a way to compensate the owners whose businesses will suffer terribly along with that of hundreds of others who made their living from the beef trade?
We are living in a democratic country, therefore the government and the judiciary need to remain secular in its respective roles. What is one man’s food should not be another man’s poison. 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).
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.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)