With the debates around the Beef Ban in India, are we looking at it correctly?
I recently happened to strike a conversation about the raging controversy on beef ban with my cab driver. He had some really insightful thoughts which got me thinking…
He : The government is wasting so much of time and resources in preventing cow slaughter and ‘protecting’ them from trade. All this when it is unable to curb the rampant hooliganism and corruption in the state!
Me : What do you feel? Is it not an important issue?
He : It is not like that. I too am a Brahmin. But try to look at it from a practical perspective. The government has banned cow slaughter, but then you tell me, what are we going to do with an old cow? It does not give milk, on the other hand we must feed it and take care of its maintenance. This incurs cost, which the poor cannot afford to pay! The poor cannot sell them, which it used to do until now, so that source of income is gone, adding to the additional expense of their upkeep. And where are you going to keep all the old cows? There is no place to house the thousands of people on the streets then how are we going to provide shelter to them? Hundreds die each year on the street due to heat/cold, but no one is ready to build enough shelter homes for them!
Me : Hmm, you are right is saying so, but…
He : Now you tell me, when the government is unable to feed the thousands of people dying of hunger each year, then how is it going to manage to feed these cows? If it already has the resources, why not feed the poor first? Also, there are huge communities who feed on beef. When beef is banned, wouldn’t it put added pressure on the current stock of food grains and agricultural produce in a country already short of feeding its entire population? Beef is cheap and nutritious, the poor can afford it; grains are expensive, inaccessible to the them.
Now let us suppose that somehow the government manages to feed them and provide shelter. Now what about those employed in cow trade and slaughter houses? Isn’t the unemployment going to increase? How do you plan to employ them when already people are unable to find jobs? Aren’t these issues going to crop up? What do you plan to do about them?
Me : You are right, these are the grassroot issue that are the most important when taking such a decision at the national level. I wonder why they are not brought up in the so called ‘debates’ we have on the news channels.
He : No one thinks about all this sir. The government wants to do what gathers most attention, the news channels wants to show what people want to hear and what their bosses with political connections tell them. It is always the poor who suffers. And that is what fails to get highlighted. This is the sad truth!
We need to look at things from the perspective of those actually affected by any policy change. That is where we can measure its impact and whether it is actually fruitful and worth it or not!