Thursday, June 1, 2017

Banning the Sale of Cattle for Slaughter - Government has no role in Kitchen

Raw Beef Slices - Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Recently, Central Government through a brand-new notification made it difficult for people to sell cattle for slaughter.

The notification in question is, ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017' from Ministry of Environment and Forests. As the name implies this rule have many progressive directions like,
Section 7 states, 'District Animal Market Monitoring Committee' to ensure all basic needs for animals in animal market.
Section 14 Prohibits the practices that are cruel and harmful
Section 15 offers Protection of animals from injury or unnecessary pain or suffering.
There are many more sections in this rule which will make the life of animals easy in animal market.

The controversial sections in this piece of paper is Section 22 on 'Restrictions on sale of cattle'. Subsections states that, 
b. no person shall bring a cattle to an animal market unless upon arrival he has furnished a written declaration signed by the owner of the cattle or his duly authorised agent—
(i) stating the name and address of the owner of the cattle, with a copy of the photo identification proof;
(ii) giving details of the identification of the cattle;
(iii) stating that the cattle has not been brought to market for sale for slaughter. 

In other words, one can't sell his/her cattle for slaughter.

d. where an animal has been sold and before its removal from the animal market, the Animal Market Committee shall—
(ii)take an undertaking that the animals are bought for agriculture purposes and not for slaughter;

e. the purchaser of the cattle shall –
(i) not sell the animal for purpose of slaughter;
(ii) follow the State cattle protection or preservation laws;
(iii) not sacrifice the animal for any religious purpose;
(iv) not sell the cattle to a person outside the State without the permission as per the State cattle protection or preservation laws.

(i) make sure that the purchaser is not allowed to sell the cattle for slaughter and (iv) makes the interstate trade difficult.

This in turn affects beef consumption, leather industry and export market. The question any reasonable Indian should ask is 'why'? What suddenly happened, which made the government to bring such a drastic change. Did they find suddenly that cattle are an endangered species? No. Did they find that eating beef is injurious to health? No. Did they find out that, slaughtering cattle results in ecological imbalance? Again, the answer is no. Alternately, there are a lot of people who eat beef; there is a big industry and lakhs of jobs depends on it. In addition to that, there is a huge export market as well as leather industry depend on that.

This ban raise some serious questions about the intention and extend of government's role in day to day life. Do government have the right to decide what people should eat and what not (if they are not eating endangered species or resorting to cannibalism)? I believe the answer is no.

Do government have the authority to destroy an industry - leather - without providing any reasonable explanation? Leather industry may be polluting but so as many other industries. So, pollution is not a digestible explanation.

Another explanation provided for this ban is to protect the farmers. In which way, it will affect the farmers. Just think about the situation, when the cattle are no longer giving any return for the farmer. It is very old to provide milk or do some work. In this situation, what the farmer should do? Fed the cattle for many more years without having any chance for getting any further return?  or simply let it go to the open streets? I don't think both options will be more beneficial for the farmer than selling it to slaughter house.

Well, there is also an argument that animal husbandry is a state matter and central government’s notification is an encroachment to State Government’s fiefdom. Well, state government also don’t have any role in citizen’s kitchen.

In this way government's argument, doesn't hold any water and hence the notification should be taken back.


PS: As per the wordings, ban in the sale of cattle for slaughter is applicable only in Animal Market (may not be in households). But the notification gave a very expansive definition for Animal Market.

"animal market means a market place or sale-yard or any other premises or place to which animals are brought from other places and exposed for sale or auction and includes any lairage adjoining a market or a slaughterhouse and used in connection with it and any place adjoining a market used as a parking area by visitors to the market for parking vehicles and includes animal fair and cattle pound where animals are offered or displayed for sale or auction"

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