Cattle slaughter, especially cow slaughter is a controversial topic in India because of the cattle’s traditional status as an endeared and respected living being to many Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists while being considered an acceptable source of meat by Muslims as well as adherents of some other Indian religions.
The sacredness of cows in India is deep rooted in the history of Hinduism. The cow is divinely associated with Krishna, the cowherd and considered a mother figure because of the milk it gives.
The ban on beef greatly affects the restaurants both big and small. It imposes restrictions on what the dishes that can be served by restaurants the reason being the ban of beef. The laws have affected more than just the restaurants. Countless butchers and vendors have lost their mode of sustenance as the sale of beef is banned.
The leather industry is also on the brink of turmoil. In the backstreets of Agra’s Muslim quarter, where shoes have been made for centuries, small-scale manufacturers are firing workers and families are cutting back on spending as a government crackdown on cattle slaughter ripples through the community.
Beef is consumed not only by Indian Muslims and Christians, but also by many low caste Hindus, for whom it is an essential source of affordable protein. Experts are also concerned that the religiously charged public disturbances and conflicts surrounding the consumption of beef could undermine the secular ethos of the country.
Many studies present the fall in the volume of exports from India compared to its many competitors on this front.
Approximately 25% of the country – inclusive of but not limited to Muslims, Christians and other sects – are beef eaters. This is especially true in the states of Kerala, West Bengal and most of the northern regions, where beef is widely consumed as a common dish for many of the sects, which makes beef a commodity attached to the culture of a state.
The major implications of the beef ban in India are as follows:
1) The beef ban is alleged to be a well planned attack against the cultural food habits of different cultures, namely Muslims, Christians and the Dalit communities in various states of India.
It is widely understood that beef is not the sole source of food for these communities and the fact that the Hindu community does not consume beef at all. But thoughtful consideration is required on the fact that beef is an essential cultural commodity to these communities and taking it away would be a clear violation of rights. Many claims point to this being a part of the Hindutva India ideology and their intimidation of minorities and instilment of conflict, in order to establish Hindu rule in India.
2) Evidently, the beef ban has raised conflicting emotions in many communities across India, turning this into a platform for communal violence on countless occasions, with only a small percentile of it making it to the eyes of the public.
In the manner, the issue has provoked violent actions from many communities and groups, resulting in heavy losses of life and property, which in turn affects the economy of those involved. The issue has turned into a deep social, legal and political issue with numerous stakeholders involved, the main one being religion.
The beef ban has impacted the field of religion in such a way that it has put the former under a different light in front of the citizens of India, with some questioning if this was a cover up in order to promote Hindutva fascist ideology within the secular lands of India.
3) Through an economic lens, we can observe the downward trends in employment and trade of minorities involved in the entire value chain of such beef. Although the beef ban primarily indicates a loss of national loss of business and economy, a greater impact can be seen in the lives of the weaker sections of the society.
A ban on the beef industry is then effectively a ban on the livelihood of many citizens – butchers, shop owners, dealers and others – without a plan to provide job for the jobless.
Even though there is other implications that were caused by the beef ban in India, such as legal reconsideration, religious debates, communal enmity, the above mentioned are the most highlighted. These have impacted our culture and society in such a way that it leaves a mark even after considerable time of the issue being subsided.
The implications of the beef ban has reduced the quantity of exports from Indian states, causing a negative effect on our economy. The beef and buffalo meat industry was on a steady and rising growth rate in India, in terms of its exports. Such a growth rate was clearly stinted by the beef ban in India and reduced the country’s economic potential to become the world’s largest exporter of beef in the global market.
Considering all the above mentioned, it can be clearly seen that the cultural, social aspect and the economic aspect of the beef ban in India are closely related and connected to each other.
Note: This is solely the authors view.