The Government of India (now popularly known as the Modi government) has published new rules to regulate livestock markets under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Even before the ink on the paper describing the notification has dried, a section of Indian media, opposition political parties and some fringe groups have jumped into fray and have started accusing vehemently the Prime Minister Narendra Modi of implementing what they call as Hindutva doctrine.
These days, Hindutva doctrine is the term frequently used by several critics to paint the Modi government as not secular and as one trying to spread the cause of Hinduism. This despite the fact that Mr. Modi has been repeatedly praising other religions, and just two days back in his national radio address, Mr. Modi conveyed his greetings to Muslims on the eve of Ramzan (Ramadan). But, these statements are falling on deaf ears among the determined critics who seem to be finding loopholes to paint the Modi government in a negative way at every opportunity.
The fact is that the notification issued by the Modi government to regulate livestock market is a document on the regulation of sale of livestock bought and sold in animal markets, with prohibition on the cruelty inflicted in the transport and treatment of animals. It includes a category of cattle namely cows, buffaloes, bulls and camels. The notification just aims to regulate the market and bring a certain element of order.
Now, let us read the notification straight.
The rules prohibit the sale of animals for slaughter through the livestock markets, so that animals for slaughter could be sought directly from farms, thus ensuring traceability and food safety. Nowhere in the notification, it has been said that the animal cannot be slaughtered. However, this important aspect has been ignored by the media and the critics. Obviously, they have not cared to get the required clarification from the government before reacting with strong criticisms and adverse comments.
Let us look at the regulation from another viewpoint.
Many critics say that cow is a holy animal for Hindus and therefore, the Modi government is trying to prevent the slaughter of cows to satisfy the so called Hindutva agenda. This uncharitable criticism further goes on to say that the list includes camels also to camouflage the intention of the Modi government to prevent the slaughter of cows.
Christians consider the Bible and Cross as Holy. In the same way Muslims consider the Koran as Holy. Hindus consider Bhagawad Gita and the Cow as Holy and every religion has such sentiments and they are entitled to have it. It is the duty of every one to respect such sentiments. In the same way, Hindus expect that their sentiments for the Holy Cow should be respected by everyone else.
None of the critics of the notification of the Modi government have cared to comment on the rights of the Hindus to expect that the Holy Cow, which they hold in high respect, should be protected.
Another criticism is that the move to regulate the market will kill the livestock economy in India and affect the buffalo meat export which recorded Rs. 26,684 cr. in 2015-16. Further, the critics have argued that meat, leather and other industries would be seriously crippled. All these are exaggerated fears and statements without careful study of the implications of the regulations.
The new rules clearly aim at regulating the market. While the sale in the animal market for the slaughter have been banned, the sale from farms has not been banned. This will ensure that the beef market would be more healthy and the buyers will have greater confidence that they are not eating the beef produced from the slaughtering of sick animals.
Further, it may be pointed out that the slaughtering of cows has already been banned in few states in India and heaven has not fallen due to this.
In India, we have seen situations recently when a person was arrested for throwing down a live dog from the top of a multi-storey building and another person was arrested for feeding poison to a stray dog. These acts are called as cruelty to animals and were severely condemned in the media. But, the same media seems to think that the slaughter of cows or buffaloes or cameles is not an act of cruelty. What strange and convenient logic.