Tag Archives: beef ban


By Kartik Sharma

PC: Cow Slaughter & The Constitution, The Hindu June 7, 2017.


Can beef banning be justified in the multicultural society of India? Is it about respecting people’s sentiments or it disrespects freedom to eat? In the history of our country too, there have been conflicts on this topic as Mahatma Gandhi was against beef-eating as he saw religious aspects more. At the same time, J L Nehru considered Gandhi’s demand as unreasonable. So, is it justified to ban it? In 2015 Maharashtra’s Government banned the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks and the possession of flesh of these animals.[1] It felt that it is a reasonable restriction as a cow and its progeny is the backbone of Maharashtra’s agrarian economy.[2] Reduction in the number of these animals will prove to be detrimental in the long run. There is no total ban on the import of meat or livestock but the trade of beef from Maharashtra. It believes that it is in the public interest. The act that government passed also criminalises possession of beef and in turn its consumption. This bill was a 20-year old bill, passed in February 2015 and enacted in March after state government received President’s assent.[3]

There can be three angles to the topic- the religious sentiments, the logic and political opportunity. A cow is considered to be holy in India, and anything that is done against it hurts religious feelings. Now, after the act, it will be seen as a legal offence too. The state will be encouraged to stop killing of other animals as well. But what about the livelihood of the people who depend on the cattle industry? The fact is that India is becoming a major exporter of beef, and people who have been employed in the beef industry may now resort to illegal trade. People will become jobless if bans are justified because promises are made by the government to set up a secondary platform for people of this industry. However, it is not practical for the government to create so many jobs readily. It is seen that, through this initiative, some politicians gather the support of people who have religious sentiments attached to the cow.

India, according to many sources, is one of the largest exporters of beef in the world. India majorly exports buffalo beef. There are over 30,000 illegal slaughterhouses in India.[4] Only the ones which possess required certificates should run a slaughterhouse. There is a pressing demand for milk in the Dairy industry. Therefore, cows are not treated nicely. The animals are inhumanely cramped into vehicles during transportation. Due to this, their bones break, and they get dehydrated. The dairy industry does not raise these animals for beef; it is mainly for the milk. Leather, beef are by-products of the dairy industry. But that is a different issue; still, people ask that why don’t we ban milk too? The process of mulching includes the ill-treatment of animals.

In many villages, it is ban just by a norm and not by law. People have decided to follow the standard. The places where there are a ban people have to give up their individual liberty, which is against the Constitution of India. Indian Constitution gives Right to choose what to eat under Article 21.[5] Some people say live and let live attitude should exist- ‘If you don’t like to eat, then don’t eat it, why force it onto others who do?’ In Malaysia and UAE, even though the culture does not permit the consumption of pork, one can get it in separate sections. Why do we only treat one animal as holy when every creature is a beautiful creation of God? If there is a ban on one animal, then it can be suggested that a ban should be there on every animal killing. However, nobody likes things to be done in this fashion. Bulls and bullocks are not considered holy; only a cow is; so why not put a ban on them too?

Smoking kills but the government doesn’t ban cigarettes but puts a mandate to show a large picture on the pocket that says smoking leads to cancer. Why does it not ban that? Bans have been mostly counterproductive in India. Gujarat is a dry state, and everybody knows that people who desire to consume alcohol manage to do it even there. It is written in ‘Bhagwad Gita’ that the supreme personality of Godhead has given us fruits and vegetables to eat. Then why must we take away the life of a creature for the pleasure of the tongue? Spiritually speaking, we must not kill animals for taste. Whatever vegetarian food we eat, we must take it from nature consciously. But if we talk practically, many people are vegetarian by choice, and they never force people to give up eating non-vegetarian items. We are a democratic nation, and we can encourage people to become vegetarian by pick but ban, as it seems, is unwarranted.

[1] Shibu Thomas, Beef ban is ‘reasonable restriction’, does not violate fundamental rights: Maharashtra Govt to HC, The Times of India Apr 20, 2015 available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Beef-ban-law-is-reasonable-restriction-does-not-violate-fundamental-rights-Maharashtra-govt-to-HC/articleshow/46986689.cms.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] As states to close illegal slaughterhouses, PETA India available at https://secure.petaindia.com/page/23016/action/1?locale=en-GB.

[5] The Indian Constitution, 1949, art 21(1).