January 25, 2012

How cow slaughter became legal in India?

I got this as a forward by Sam John , a very good friend of mine. So you see cows being sacred is not entirely a religious issue. There is something more to it than what we choose to see. So here it is:

Those were the times when India was at the peak of Mughal Rule. The rulers
of a large part of India were muslims and guess what, they had banned Cow
Slaughter in that Mughal Empire. Nobody dared to kill cows and eat beef in
that Muslim Empire.
The Mughal Empire and Cow

Babur, who invaded India all the way from Kabul and established the Mughal
Empire in India, despite being an orthodox Muslim had banned Cow Slaughter
in his empire. All successive Mughal Emperors – Humayun, Akbar, Shah Jahan,
Jehangir, Aurangazeb, and then even Ahmad Shah had banned Cow Slaughter in
their kingdoms. Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan who ruled the Mysore State in
the present day Karnataka had made cow slaughter and beef eating a
punishable offence and the crime would be punished by cutting off the hands
of the person who committed the crime!

Today in India we have over 36000 slaughterhouses! How did this massive
turn around take place?
Cow and The Hindu Civilization

To understand that first we need to get back to the importance of cow in
the ancient Hindu civilization of India. Cows are the most sacred animals
to the Hindus and this is not without any reason. In fact the very word Cow
in English is derived from the Sanskrit word*Gau*for Cow
Hindus believe that all Gods and Goddesses live inside a Cow

One of the most important reasons is that cows have been the backbones of
Indian families and the Indian agricultural system ever since the dawn of
this ancient Hindu civilization. Apart from the extensively used Cow’s milk
which the ancient Indians used to collect only after the calf has had its
share, the most important use of Cows was in Agriculture. Without Cow the
Indian agriculture in those days was as good as gone, and this was one of
the prime reasons why Hindus being nature worshippers also worshipped Cow.

Cows had their own shelters called Gaushalas (large places where the cows
lived) which were many a times larger than the homes where people lived.
There used to be people exclusively to look after the well being of the
cows here and many a times they used to be the cow owners themselves who
used to clean the Gaushalas everyday, feed the cows, take care of their
health and so on . Every single festival of harvest had cow worship, house
warming ceremonies had the ritual of taking the cow inside the house first
and then pray to it to make the house prosper and flood with food grains,
milk and butter.

Cows being fed at a Gaushala

Note that those were the days when food was grown in a healthy natural
process. There was no industrial revolution, no artificial fertilizers, no
chemical pesticides and insecticides. The entire Indian agriculture was
based on the nature’s best fertilizer – Cow dung, and one of the nature’s
best pesticide – Cow’s urine (along with the neem based solutions) were
used extensively in the agriculture. Buttermilk again which is a derivative
of Cow’s milk was used as an effective fungicide and weedicide.

And not without any reason, the Indian agriculture in those days was
extremely productive thanks to the cow products. Farmers were happy, crops
came on time, yield was high, prices were low for food crops, kingdoms even
used to export their agricultural output, granaries were always filled,
milk was abundantly available and so were its derivatives like Butter, Ghee
etc which formed an important part of the Indian diet. Every religious
institution, big farms, farmers, diary owners all had thousands of cows –
the cows which had made the Indian economy rich and healthy.

Even today in African deserts were growing food is difficult and whatever
grows must give a rich yield for people to have adequate food, fermented
cow’s urine is used as a natural pesticide. Compare this with farmers today
who spend thousands and thousands of rupees on artificial fertilizers and
chemical pesticides, which not only make the food unhealthy, but also make
the soil unproductive over time.

Cow slaughter and slaughterhouses are banned even today in Nepal. In India,
very few are aware of the fact that Article 48 of the Indian Constitution
(Directive Principles of State Policy) says clearly that the government
must protect the cow, its progeny and other cattle used in agriculture, not
just because the cows are sacred to Hindus but because Cows have been the
backbone of Agriculture and milk production in this country ever since the
dawn of civilization. To millions of poor families in India, even today
Cow’s milk is the only source of nutrient to their kids and babies.

In India states like Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh,
Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka etc have already banned Cow slaughter (Karnataka
being a very recent addition). Cuba banned cow slaughter after its people
virtually ate up all the cattle leading to a scarcity of diary products.
Even Iran has banned Cow slaughter and note that it was at the request of a
non-muslim –Seth Merwanji Framji Panday that Iran – a muslim dominated
nation banned cow slaughter. <http://www.fravahr.org/spip.php?article61> Now
compare this with India today where our politicians are prepared to sell
anything in return for votes.
British Rule and Slaughterhouses

Both Mahathma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru had declared before Independence that
they would ban Cow slaughter in India after Independence. Obviously they
didnt impose it. Why? Thanks to Robert Clive who had converted the Indian
muslims (who never ate beef till the end of Mughal era) into believing that
beef eating was their religious right. Cow slaughter had become a vote bank
issue. How? Read below.

Robert Clive – the so called Founder of the British Empire in India who was
twice the Governor of Bengal too – on entering India was astonished and
amazed to see the success of the agricultural system here. He went on
researching the reasons for the success of the Indian agriculture and
discovered the root – The Holy Indian Cow. The entire hindu life style
revolved around this animal, not just religiously, but socially. Cow was an
integral part of a Hindu family as was any other human member in the
family. He even found that in many places the total number of cattle was
more than the number of humans living there.

OK, so he decided, to break the backbone of agriculture in India – the holy
cows have to be targeted. And thus was opened the first slaughterhouse of
cows in India in 1760 by Robert Clive at Kolkata. It had a capacity to kill
30,000 cows per day. And anyone can guess within a year’s time how many
cows would have been killed. And within a century India had very little
cattle left to sustain its agricultural needs. And Britain as an
alternative started offering artificial manure, and in this manner urea,
phosphate etc started getting imported from England. Indian agriculture had
started becoming dependent on west invented artificial products and was
forced to give up home grown natural practices.

Guess what, till 1760 most of India had banned not only cow slaughter, but
also prostitution and drinking wine was banned as well. Robert Clive made
all three legal and removed the ban.

Now the British had hit two birds with a single stone by this move. The
first was to break the backbone of the Indian agriculture ie making cattle
not available for agriculture. And the second?

Well, obviously Hindus did not work as butchers at the slaughter houses
opened by the British. And of course the British were well known for their
divide and rule policies which they practiced throughout their colonial
kingdoms then. So what did they do? Well, they hired muslims as butchers
and this was done in almost every slaughterhouse they opened. And this
slowly pushed the muslims into believing that beef eating was their
religious right.

What the Mughal empire had banned had been turned into a practice by the
British empire. What Babur and Akbar termed as a crime was converted into a
norm by Robert Clive. And today the soil of India is filled with artificial
fertilizers and pesticides while the holy Cow cries in the slaughterhouses.
While there were over 70 breeds of cows in the country at the time of
independence, today we have only 33 and even among them many breeds are
facing extinction.

Guess what happened to the man who started all this? Robert Clive became a
opium addict and later committed suicide by stabbing himself with a pen
knife after being unable to withstand the pain caused by the illness that
had resulted from opium addiction.

If you like to read more You can check out:
Origin And History Of Cow Slaughter And Beef Eating In
PUBLISHED JUN 28, 2010, UNDER: HISTORY<http://www.hitxp.com/articles/history/>


subhorup dasgupta said...

There seems to be a lot of facts and data that has got mixed up here with interpretation and opinion. A lot of what you have reported is true, but cow slaughter is in no way different from any other form of animal slaughter and needs to be seen in that perspective if at all, and not as a political religious issue. The more we search for villains, the more we will find them. The villains we find outside, in the history books, and in the system are but manifestations of the villains that we carry within our selves. Very thought provoking post.

Shamsud said...

indeed though provoking and i am sure there woukld be more perspective to this one. Thanks for sharing

Sharika said...

@subhorup: that is true but I don't think we can ignore the political role it played considering the state of affairs on our nation today!