FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Beyond bull: Why restriction on cow slaughter will hurt India
Posted:May 26, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Kunal Pradhan 
 
It is easy to frame rules banning the slaughter of the cow, its progeny, its distant cousin the water buffalo, and its passing acquaintance the camel. It is much harder to think of life without buttons, soap, toothpaste, paint brushes and surgical stitches.
 
Only 30% of cattle slaughtered in India is used for meat – either local consumption or export – while 70% of the carcass is traded for industries that deal in the aforementioned products, along with about three-dozen other items of daily use. Most of the 30% cattle slaughtered, of course, is the water buffalo because the culling of cows for meat is either totally banned or allowed with strict riders in all but five states. What’s more: eating, selling, transporting or exporting meat of the cow genus is a non-bailable offence, punishable with up to 10 years in jail in all of northern, central and western India.
 
So, when the Government of India issued an ‘extraordinary’ notification on Tuesday, restricting the sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets and imposing rules that put a majority of the country’s animal markets in danger, it willy-nilly hit much more than the meat industry. Sources say the meat industry relies on animal markets for 90% of its supply. The impact on allied industries is unclear.
 
The government may think the decision is politically rewarding at a time of easy vigilantism. But there are economic implications across the board on exports, the environment, the rural economy -- issues that should have been addressed before taking a hard line.
 
According to the 2012 Livestock Census, India has a total of 191 million cows and bulls, and 109 million water buffaloes. These are together roughly 25 per cent of India’s human population. Most of these end up on the streets at strays, spewing methane in this age of global warming. With culling a bad word now, the number, according to experts, will rise, “perhaps exponentially”.
 
India exported 2.4 million tonnes of buffalo meat to 65 countries in 2014-15, or 23.5% of global beef exports according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. It was worth Rs 30,000 crore, accounting for 1% of India’s total exports, part of the “Pink Revolution” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had so derisively talked about during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign.
 
As far as the bovine economy goes, however, it was only a tiny sliver.
 
The biggest impact of the government notification will be on India’s largely non-mechanized rural economy, in which the life cycle of bulls and bullocks provides farmers with a sustainable economic model. A couple of former colleagues and I had worked out the math in an article for India Today magazine a couple of years ago.
 
If a farmer buys a bullock for Rs 25,000, it remains sellable at the same price for about two years. Once it becomes unproductive due to injury or illness, the farmer sells it for culling for about Rs 10,000. This 40% return on investment then allows the farmer to raise capital for a replacement animal. If this replacement cost is taken away from the farmer, it not only makes it harder to procure a new set of healthy bullocks for ploughing, it adds the additional burden of paying for the animal’s upkeep.
 
In 2014, the used-cattle market in Maharashtra, for example, yielded an annual turnover of Rs 1,180 crore. When the state government banned the culling of cow and its progeny in 2015, a farmer with an unproductive bull suddenly had nowhere to go. Since the average bovine consumes about 65 litres of water and 40 kg of fodder a day, estimates put the cost of taking care of a bull at nearly Rs 40,000 per year at 2015 prices. With an estimated 1.18 million unproductive bulls in Maharashtra alone, feeding them costs about Rs 4,700 crore per year.
 
The ban in Maharashtra did not include buffaloes, making the new government notification all the more unpalatable.
 
So, when anti-culling supporters celebrate taking away the most delicious item on the menu in Lucknow’s Tunday kababs or in a Goan shack, they should consider exactly what they’re losing, and ask themselves: Is depriving other people their meat really worth the cost?
 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that military dictatorship always halted progress in the country. The Prime Minister, who was in Karachi on a day-long visit, was speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the Pakistan International Bulk Terminal at Port Qasim.
 
read-more
Ruskin Bond’s first novel ‘Room on the Roof’ describes in vivid detail how life in the hills around Dehradun used to be. Bond, who is based in Landour, Mussoorie, since 1963, captured the imagination of countless readers as he painted a picture of an era gone by.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
Braid-chopping incidents have added to the already piled up anxieties of Kashmiris. Once again they are out on the streets, to give vent to their anger. A few persons, believed to be braid-choppers were caught hold by irate mobs at various places. They were beaten to pulp.
 
read-more
The upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has captured world attention. French newspaper Le Monde on Sunday published a front page article headlined "China, the rise of the great power" in Chinese characters and carried eight pages on the topic, the epitome of Western reporting on the 19th CPC
 
read-more
In a move lauded worldwide, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud recently issued a royal decree allowing women to obtain driving licences.
 
read-more
Recently, United States President Donald Trump kicked the onus of the US backing out of the Iran nuclear deal to the US Congress. The question is how we interpret this technically, in terms of domestic politics and in terms of geopolitics.
 
read-more
It is a privilege to be invited to this most prestigious of law schools in the country, more so for someone not formally lettered in the discipline of law. I thank the Director and the faculty for this honour.
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive