In Vedic mythology we come across the story of sage Trita looking for fire and finding it in the head of a cow. Today we face a really big and scorching fire ensuing from bovines in India. Cows, we are told, are worshipped by Hindus and cow slaughter is therefore a religiously sensitive subject. Dalits and non-Hindus have been severely tortured or killed on suspicion of cow slaughter by such sensitive people.
Let us see what the laws and constitution of our secular state as well as the religion claimed to be that of the majority of India’s population, have to say about cow slaughter.
In the Constitution of India, prohibition of cow slaughter is included in the Directive Principles of State Policy (guidelines to the central and state government for framing policies, not enforceable in any court of law). The directives on cow slaughter are recorded in Article 48 which reads
“The state shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle” (Directive Principles of State Policy, Ministry of Law and Justice).
This makes it clear that, India being secular, the Directive Principles of the Constitution are not against the slaughter of cows, but of milch cattle in general, and not for religious but for economic reasons. The term ‘milch cattle’ includes cows, buffaloes as well as goats. India consumes much more of buffalo milk as compared to cow milk. Also, since more than 65% of the world population drinks goat milk, it is highly possible that large proportion of Indians also drink goat milk.
I was eight or nine, a child obsessed with day-dreaming and playing alone with the tiny grass-flowers that grew abundantly in our yard. Memories of those times are coloured a brilliant green because that was the colour that overwhelmed all the seasons of the year. Our home at Muthukulam in Kerala comes back to the mind’s eye in greens of all shades, browns, rich reds, bright blues, silver of the ponds,canals, and the lake, the bright yellow of the mangoes and jackfruit, and innumerable flower- and fruit-hues. Continue reading A Memory from the 1970s→
Every newspaper in India carried the same headline on Friday, the 9th of October: ‘Modi breaks silence on Dadri lynching.’ It says something about the breathless desperation of the Indian press to hear the prime minister say something, anything, that could be interpreted as his disapproval of political barbarism, that there wasn’t, in fact, a word in his speech about the Dadri lynching. – Mukul Kesavan in ndtv.com
You know what has been agitating the minds of millions of us, Indians — the future of our pluralism. You have stated your position in terms of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas‘. And this is quoted and cited on your behalf repeatedly as a mantra. But, Pradhan Mantriji, this is certainly not adequate. We need to hear you, our Prime Minister, directly and clearly and with an urgent reference to the present situation, which is nothing less than a tragedy. Over the last few months we have had more than one tragedy. Can we really not see the connections between the so-called stray incidences all over the country, from the murders of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi to that of Mohammad Akhlaq. Your direct voice needs to be heard now, unless you do not consider this an event of significance. And now, the ambiguity of what you said yesterday only makes me send you this appeal for your truthful intervention. TM Krishna’s Open Letter to the Prime Minister
While Modi’s cheer leaders in the media were telling us that the prime minister had finally ‘broken his silence’ (see Apoorvanand’s piece on this here), there were others who read the meaning of his speech far more accurately.They knew exactly what Modi was saying; they knew without having to do a content analysis of His speech that, if anything, despite being shamed to an extent by the President, Pranab Mukherjee’s statement the previous day, he actually refused to say anything about the Dadri incident let alone condemn the crime or its perpetrators. They understood clearly that his speech was merely a continuation of his sinister and devious silence. They understood like no media commentator or analyst did that what he said in Munger was a green signal for them to go ahead with their activities. Thus what happened in Mainpuri today is nothing to be surprised about.
The debates and demands around the issue of the prohibition of cow slaughter in India are a highly volatile, political and contentious subject, with the cow being revered as sacred by most Hindus in the country. Although almost all the proponents calling for a national legislation for a total ban on slaughter of cow and other cattle today look to the directive principles of state policy and use an economic and agrarian argument to defend their demand, it is interesting to note that the constituent assembly debates around this directive principle clearly indicate that it was as much a religious issue, reasoned on science and agriculture instead however, for some of those who wanted it to be an integral part of the Indian Constitution.
After much debate and deliberation in the Constituent Assembly and a demand from a few members of the assembly, to include a total ban on the slaughter of cows as part of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution, a compromise was reached and the protection of the revered bovine found place in the Directive Principles of state policy, which incorporates this Hindu sentiment in a somewhat guarded and hesitant form. Most notable among the members raising the issue were Pandit Thakur Dass Bhargava and Seth Govind Das. Syed Muhammad Sa’adulla, another member argued that he would rather have the insertion on the protection of cow slaughter as a religious ground, as, the argument on economic grounds will ‘create a suspicion in the minds of many that the ingrained Hindu feeling against cow slaughter is being satisfied by the backdoor’ and he went on to give facts and figures on how cow slaughter is not as bad ‘as it is being made out to be’ from the economic point of view. Continue reading Cow Slaughter – Can a Directive Principle Trump Fundamental Rights of the Most Marginalized? Mariya Salim→
A team comprising of Dr. Mrigank (Delhi Committee, Indian Federation of Trade Unions, IFTU), Poonam Kaushik (Gen. Secy. Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, PMS), Rajeev (Convener, Progressive Democratic Students’ Union, PDSU) visited JJ Colony Bawana and made investigations into the reports of alleged planned cow slaughter and intimidation of Muslims.
Bawana JJ Colony is situated opposite CRPF Camp near Bawana City. It has resettled people, displaced from Yamuna Pushta, Saraswati Vihar, Laxmi Nagar etc. its population is about 1.5 lakh and about 70% are Muslims (as we were told). It is under Outer Delhi district of Delhi Police and two Police stations covers the area. Bawana PS covers village and Narela covers JJ Colony. Mr. Udit raj of BJP is MP here, who has not even been seen by the people. We were told by people that CPI (M-L) New Democracy has sent an urgent e-mail to Commissioner of Police, Delhi demanding urgent deployment of forces. Continue reading Report on Alleged Plan of Cow Slaughter in JJ Colony Bawana: IFTU,PMS,PDSU→
The press is full of the India Human Development Report 2011 released by the Centre recently, and Gujarat figures prominently in newspaper headlines for reasons Mr. Modi is unlikely to quote in self-congratulatory ads. As The Telegraph put in tortured prose, Gujarat has a ‘Gnawing record fasting Modi won’t flaunt‘.
Kerala once again topped the Human Development Index. One of the more charming images that accompanied the story is from Rediff, which showed a fairly archetypal Kerala landscape with paddy fields, coconut trees and a cow. No humans, though, developed or otherwise. It struck me, then, that part of Kerala’s high ranking in the health and nutrition stakes may come from its willingness to consume all three: rice, coconuts and the cow. And thereby hangs a tale. Continue reading Human Development and other Holy Cows: Sajan Venniyoor→