Beef ban in India is gaining popularity. The state of Maharashtra and Haryana has already banned the eating and selling of beef. It was reported that Goa might also ban beef but the chief minister of the state Laxmikant Parsekar said that the minorities in the state which constituted about 30-40% consumed a lot of beef and so the state would not ban it. Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. Cow slaughter is banned in India since many years but now the government has banned the slaughter of buffaloes. Now there are two questions that arise because of this.
- Is it constitutional to ban beef?
- What will be its effect?
Another small question that is meant to be answered is that in a country like India which is a secular country is it legitimate to ban beef?
On March 2, President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent to a 19-year-old Maharashtra Bill banned the slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the state, in addition to the cow slaughter ban in place since 1976.
To answer the first question what needs to be understood is that it is indeed constitutional to ban beef and it is justified by section 48 of the Constitution of India. . Two sections of the Constitution of India i.e. section 21 which is right to life and section 48 which is Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry The State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle has to be kept in mind. Both the sections are contrary to each other. Where section 48 justifies the ban as the cattle need to be taken care of, section 21 does not justify the ban as the ban is on the right to food that a person wants to eat and it clearly infringes the fundamental right of right to life of a person.
The answer to the second question is that it will have a long term effect. The economy of the nation will suffer. The state of West Bengal exports beef to many adjoining nations and due to this beef ban nation will incur huge economic losses. The leather industry will also suffer the consequences of this ban which is not at all justified. The leather industry of the country is very well supported and joined with the slaughtering industry. India produces very fine leather which it exports and it is an important part of the revenue of the country. Another dimension to this problem is the aspect of unemployment. Many people who were the professional beef sellers are suffering huge losses. The factories where beef was produced has shut down and this is a big problem. People who were butchers in these factories now have no work to do because this was the profession which they had been following since generations. These workers or butchers are daily wage butchers and without any job they cannot feed their families. Now there is a big challenge before the nation. Since India is a developing nation and there is a lot of unemployment among the youth of the country is it justified to ban beef and cause more of unemployment? Another problem is that the gelatin which is produced by the fat of these animals would not be produced. This gelatin is used in food, cosmetics and several medicines. It is not wrong to say that knowingly or unknowingly we consume the product of these bovines. The medicines which use the gelatin are expensive and are very beneficial.
The cattle which are old and no longer have the capacity to produce milk are sold by the farmers to these slaughter houses who make meat out of it. These cattle are of no use once barren. So, if the sale of such cattle is happening there is no problem with that. The government says that it will construct sheds and other facilities for such cows. The problem here is that the construction of sheds and use of resources would be an extra burden on the nation and the government.
According to the author, the ban is just not justified. Some say that it has been put on the religious grounds but even if it is so it is not justified because India is a secular country and laws should not be amended according to the needs and requirement of one particular community. What the nation needs to understand is that in a secular state, the nation needs to take care of all the communities and not only one particular community. Also looking at the point of economic growth, the author fails to understand the idea behind banning the slaughter of cattle. The leather industry, the cosmetic industry, the medicine industry and most importantly the revenue of the country will suffer. There would be problem of unemployment and people might use illegal means to satisfy their empty stomach. Also, the right to life of a person is infringed. The beef industries in Maharashtra have transaction in lakhs of rupees every day. Beef slaughter is not immoral as pointed out by some people. Several Public interest litigation( PIL) have been filed in courts asking the court to remove this unjustified ban.