The new rules clearly aim at regulating the market. While sale of cattle for slaughter has been banned in the animal market, the sale from the farmhouse has not been banned, writes N.S.Venkataraman for South Asia Monitor
The Indian government has notified new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Even before the ink on the notification paper dries, a section of the Indian media, opposition political parties and fringe groups have jumped into fray, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of implementing what they call a Hindutva doctrine.
The Hindutva doctrine is a term used by critics to paint the Modi government as one trying to spread the cause of the Hindu religion. Modi has praised other religions also, most recently greeting Muslims on the eve of Ramzan in his national radio address ‘Mann ki baat’ (Sharing my thoughts) a couple of days ago. This falls on deaf ears among critics, who appear to find loopholes to paint the Modi government negatively at every opportunity.
The fact is that the notification to regulate the livestock market seeks to regulate sale of livestock bought and sold in animal markets, prohibiting the cruelty inflicted in the transport and treatment of animals. It includes all category of cattle; namely cows, buffaloes, bulls and camels. The notification merely aims to regulate the market and bring a certain element of order into it.
The rules prohibit the sale of animals for slaughter through the livestock markets, so that animals for slaughter could be sought directly from farms, thus ensuring traceability and food safety. Nowhere in the notification has it been said that the animal cannot be slaughtered. This important aspect has been ignored by the media and critics.
Many critics say the cow is a holy animal for Hindus and therefore, the Modi government is trying to prevent slaughter of cows. Critics further say that the list includes camels only to camouflage the intention of the government to prevent the slaughter of cows and fulfil the Hindutva agenda.
Christians consider the Bible and the Cross as holy. Muslims consider the Quran as holy. Hindus consider the Bhagavad Gita and the cow as holy. Every religion has such sentiments. It is the duty of every one to respect such sentiments. In the same way, Hindus expect that their sentiments for the sacred cow should be respected by others.
None of the critics have commented on the right of Hindus to expect that the cow, which they hold in respect, should be protected.
A major criticism is that the move will kill the livestock economy in India and affect buffalo meat exports, which recorded Rs. 26,684 crore in 2015-16. Further, critics have argued that the meat, leather and allied industries would be seriously crippled. These are exaggerated fears, without careful study of the implications of the regulations.
The new rules clearly aim at regulating the market. While sale of cattle for slaughter has been banned in the animal market, the sale from the farmhouse has not been banned. This will ensure that the beef market would be healthier and buyers will have greater confidence that they are not eating beef produced by slaughtering sick animals.
There have been instances recently of persons arrested for pushing a dog down from the roof of a multi-storey building and for feeding poison to a stray dog. These acts are called as cruelty to animals and severely condemned.
However, the same media seems to think that slaughter of cows or buffaloes or camels is not cruelty.
(The author is Trustee of Chennai-based Non-Profit Organisation Nandini Voice for the Deprived. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)