Murdering democracy, bit by bit

By Mujahid Ul Islam

What is more pitiable in the 21st century when a state decides what an individual should eat, what religion should one profess and whom should one marry? Love jihad, ghar wapasi and demanding anti-conversion laws in this age is indeed an insult to the sacred institution of democracy. Belief system, marriage issues and food habits in any civilised and democratic society are to be decided by the individual alone, according to his / her thinking, ideological compatibility and taste.  It is indeed disgraceful and outrageous when the state decides it for an individual. It is violation of basic individual rights, a must in any civilized society. It is certainly the murder of democracy.

Implementation of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act 1995 and banning beef, however, is not only an encroachment on the belief system and food habits of minorities and violation of Individual rights, but also an economically unwise step.

We ought to know that despite India’s large and varied population of livestock, it lacks in productivity and output due to poor quality of livestock. Indian animals lack in stamina for both draught and milk yield. The production of meat is also least satisfactory. It is also pertinent to mention that India has the largest number of cattle in the world,  though the income generated from meat export in 2003-04 was only Rs 1,171.4 crore. Cattle and buffalo constitute around 30 per cent of the total meat production of the country every year. Nevertheless meat industry generates employment and revenue for millions of people across the country thereby adding to the State Domestic Product and Gross Domestic Product.

Banning beef in Maharashtra henceforth would curtail the development of meat industry to a great extent leaving thousands jobless and redundant. Moreover, the absence of red meat, often called the poor man’s meat, would eventually lead to hike in the prices of mutton and chicken, pressurising the non-vegetarian chunk of population to rely on much costlier meat.

We also ought to know that milch animals and draught animals are never brought to the slaughter houses.  Only unhealthy, infirm and weak animals are slaughtered for meat. In a state where there is already a shortage of fodder on a large scale, these unhealthy, infirm and weak animals will have to feed on the fodder which is meant for healthy animals. Which is again an attack on the fodder of healthy, milch and draught animals.  Another question associated with it, which is obvious to arise, is as to who will look after these animals?  Will the state do that?

The writer is PhD scholar at Department of Geography, AMU