SAGARI R. RAMDAS writes in The Wire:
The recent killings of Mohammad Akhlaq, Noman and Zahid Ahmad Bhatt on the claim that they were slaughtering cows is not only an attack on the right to life, livelihood and diverse food cultures but an assault on the entire agrarian economy.
The cynical fetishisation of cows by Hindutva politicians is not only profoundly anti-farmer but, paradoxically, also anti-cow.
What these bigots fail to realise is that the cow will survive only if there are pro-active measures to support multiple-produce based cattle production systems, where animals have economic roles. The system must produce a combination of milk, beef, draught work, manure and hide, as has been the case in the rain-fed food farming agriculture systems of the sub-continent over the centuries.
In meat production systems – whether meat from cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goat, pigs or poultry – it is the female which is reared carefully in large numbers to reproduce future generations, and the male that goes to slaughter. It is only the sick, old, infertile and non-lactating female that is sold for slaughter. In every society where beef consumption is not politicised, farmers known that eating the female bovine as a primary source of meat will compromise future production, and hence they are rarely consumed.