A big debate is going on in India over the holy cow. There is nothing new in this debate. Many nations and many cultures prohibit the killing and eating of a community animal, considered as useful or holy.
Now from all corners of the country, people are demanding to declare cow as a ‘National Anima.’ Even famous Muslim leader and the president of the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, Maulana Syed Ashrad Madani also asked the government to ‘declare cow as a national animal.’ Both the sides, secularists and nationalist have mislaid concerns and this is bad for the nation. The secularists want to pamper minorities, mainly Muslims, whereas nationalist move according to the sentiments of Hindus.
Here it would be in the fitness of things to check the arguments of that lobby that ban on cow slaughter is against secularism and freedom of eating. Hindus are not allowed to kill the cow and eat beef but it is not written that Muslims must kill the cow and eat beef. Islam and secularism will not be in danger if Muslims do not get beef to eat. In fact, a number of most delicious foods of Muslims from Awadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and Bengal are mutton based and, in all such examples, the specialists would be disgusted to see cow meat in the pot.
The worshipping of an animal is not solely a Hindu custom. For Egyptian belief system, the cat is sacred; the Zoroastrians, like the Hindus, worship the ox as their prophet used to worship; the Native Americans give the eagle a special place and no one is allowed to kill it. The turtle is also an entity of worship among many peoples and cultures, ancient and modern.
Similarly, in a number of cultures and countries, it is banned to kill the emblem or the symbol of the community or the nation, be it an animal or a plant; at times also an object or creature no one has ever seen. The Chinese have a near totemic relationship with the dragon, Czechs with a double-tailed lion, but none of these animals actually exist. Humans and nature work together in ways more composite than the intricacies between “us” and “them”.
In, 24 out of 29 Indian states; cow slaughter and beef are banned and punishable. The Constitution also directs the government to protect the cow. A number of secular and democratic countries have banned other varieties of meat for grounds not always religious. But, when the laws disallow the eating, or slaughter, of a certain animal, then it is applicable to every citizen, without exception. The dog meat is banned in the secular and democratic nations like Germany, Britain, Ireland, France, South Australia, with some other nations. The dog meat is also banned in six states in America. Even dog farming is treated as a crime that planting a dog for a meal is now treated as a dreadful crime in many nations.
Now even Taiwan, which is a very modern and liberal nation, has banned the sale of dog meat. Even, in China now dog meat is abhorred. It is an effect on the one-child policy which allocates for more time, room and emotional space for raising a pet. Under these circumstances, the dog, inevitably, is the most fashionable choice in lots of homes.
Slaughtering and consumption of a horse were not appreciated in America. Today, though, there is a detailed law against horse meat in the US and there is nothing religious behind this, although over 600 years back Pope Gregory II had taught St Boniface to crusade against horse meat, but when the last horse slaughterhouse was closed in America in 2007, no one kept in mind what a Pope had once taught.
The horse, the ox, the dog, the cat, are treated as useful in many cultures and nations, which is why killing and eating them is just uncivilised, barbaric, but illegal too. The sentiment may be religion, or because of a certain affection towards a species. But whenever this prohibition is in place, the arm of the law is equally strong and ruthless. Under these conditions, no mercy would be shown to the killers. Simply they will be treated as a criminal. Unlike India, nobody will support such criminals.
If Hindus are demanding the total ban on cow slaughter and sealing of slaughterhouses, there is nothing wrong in this. Hindus have a long history of non-violence. As a result of this, in India, even all type of dissections is banned in labs even for educational purposes and researches. Now even earthworms, cockroaches, rats, fish, frog, monkey, etc., cannot be dissected. As a result of this in the field of education and research nation is suffering very heavily. Similarly, medicinal tests, pharmaceutical tests etc., on insects and animals like rats, monkeys, horses, frogs, dogs, etc., are also banned in India. As a result of all these bans country has been suffering. Education, research all have been suffering very heavily. Academicians, researchers, and scientists are working under tremendous pressure on account of such bans. Similarly, animal shows in circuses are also banned. Even jugglers cannot keep animals like monkeys, bear, and even snakes. As a result of this lakhs of people lost their livelihood. They all supported the killings of animals in slaughter houses. They never care that since the late-1990s, animal rights fighters have succeeded in banning the long-established arts in India that expertise in training animals for shows as a means of living. There was a time when snake charmers and Baazigars would be sent to international fairs as emissaries of India’s conventional art forms. But when the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was extended to these communities, they became criminals and law breakers. With one blow of the pen, their centuries-old art forms came to be treated as an unlawful activity, without even bother to offer them any alternative means of employment for survival.
Rural and ancient animal games like Jallikuttu, Kambala, bull cart race etc are also banned. But secularists, communists and Islamists support the killings of animals in slaughter houses. They never care that since the late-1990s, animal rights fighters have succeeded in banning the long-established arts in India that expertise in training animals for shows as a means of living. There was a time when snake charmers and Baazigars would be sent to international fairs as emissaries of India’s conventional art forms. But when the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was extended to these communities, they became criminals and law breakers. With one blow of the pen, their centuries-old art forms came to be treated as an unlawful activity, without even bother to offer them any alternative means of employment for survival. Even, there was an almost total ban on non-Muslims to get any meal in the hostel mess of Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. Indians and especially Hindus accepted all these regulations.
It is surprising that for Indian secularists, communists, multiculturalists, Islamists and media, only concern is Muslims and Muslim nations where there is no respect for secularism, multiculturalism, human rights, democracy and non-violence can be seen.
In India, sadly, few ‘gau rakshaks’ (Cow protectors) often set out to protect cows, to create terror among cow slaughterers. Secularists, Communists and Islamists on the other hand, frequently end up coming in support of slaughters. When gau rakshas take law into their own hands they should be punished for their crimes. At the same time arguing that eating beef is a democratic right is just stupid.
To insist on beef in India, in the name of secularism and right of food, is just as ridiculous as demanding a dog or horse in a New York or Taiwan restaurant. All that is outlawed and punishable, need not be holy! World must love non-violence and be kind to animals. “Live and let live.”