Live cattle standing on top of slaughtered ones

Posted On 04/06/2017 By In Animal Laws With 2260 Views

India is not alone in having a Holy Cow, even the Chinese won’t eat it

Meat is ethics, culture, religion and economics rolled into one, and strangely, morals and politics, too.

This article can be downloaded in PDF here

The ‘Beef Ban’ of the ‘non-liberal’ ‘fascist’ ‘BJP’ government set the beef hot pot boiling on what is claimed to have been an Indian ‘agenda’ for years – Make India ‘beef’ free. On the other hand, Indians are eating more meat AND beef that includes both cow and buffalo meat. Consumption is up 14% in large cities, and 35% in villages, according to government data. But it also says that beef is the preferred meat in north-eastern states like Nagaland and Meghalaya. But strangely we haven’t seen any reports of beef fests there — neither any large scale protests. That seems to be happening only in Kerala and Bengal? These are the two states where there are markets for cows for slaughter. Clearly, other than culture, there is politics at play.

Food avoidances and taboos have historically been based on religion, or have functioned to demonstrate social status differences between individuals and social groupings. Meat is not just food. It is another animal’s life. And because it is, it is interwoven with ethics, with religion, with culture, with history and with politics. To view it with the simple lens of ‘this is my right’ or ‘my religion’ is naive.

Much has been written on the progress of the pro-/anti-beef movement and I will not discuss the secular, legal or ethical dilemmas of the Indian participants here (VOSD and I have written extensively on cow slaughter here). But what I will do is examine the issue for parallels that exist, and talk about the ‘where’ and ‘why’.

The battle for the right and wrong of meat-eating has raged across the world for centuries because different peoples, religions and political systems have opinions on what is right, what is acceptable. And when all else fails – the final real argument – purely on account of ‘values’. And that is the one that maybe needs the closest examination: What are our values regarding meat (in this case, beef) that when a large part of India shows abhorrence, it is against secular or religious values, in strong contrast to the West, where the reasons are not even deeply religious.

The Psychological and Religious Barriers to Meat-eating

Killing animals for food has been long identified as a moral question that affects food choice. A meat eater would likely crave a slow-roasted lamb or a fried chicken and yet feel sick at the thought of a slow-roasted dog. That’s when 3 million dogs are slaughtered for meat each year in China, and 2 million in South Korea. One can legally eat dog meat in most parts of the world, but why don’t we? And what is so perverse about having the same feeling towards beef?

The oft-repeated rant against the Chinese is based on this disgust: You eat dogs! In April 2017, Taiwan banned the eating of cat and dog meat which was a common practice since the time the mainland Chinese arrived. More recently, the Chinese banned the ‘Dog Meat’ Yulin festival. This “disgust,” and fear of being judged by others, influences our eating habits, too. It is the breaking of a ‘moral’ code. And this disgust is contagious, as you expect others to stop acting because of ‘your’ disgust. The same goes for beef.

Eating Companion Animals

Dogs have psychological skills which other animals don’t and therefore connect to us much as a person does. We consider them companions. Most people who have dogs think of dogs as having complex minds and responses to us, and that’s why the thought of eating them is disgusting. It is much the same way we would think of eating one of our friends as disgusting.

Disgust keeps your own conscience clean and pure, and gives you a moral high ground. Ask any vegan, and they will hold that high ground for hours.Meat and Religion

Meat and Religion

Meat has been entwined with religion for as long as man has had a God to whom to pray. And different gods asked, directly or indirectly, for different animals to be eaten, and conversely, not to be eaten. This is where the Hindu abhorrence for beef stems from. It is not the only meat with religious overtones, and all such meats have been the subject of debate — even in the most liberal and secular societies.

Meat has been entwined with religion for as long as man has had a God to whom to pray. And different gods asked, directly or indirectly, for different animals to be eaten, and conversely, not to be eaten. This is where the Hindu abhorrence for beef stems from. It is not the only meat with religious overtones, and all such meats have been the subject of debate — even in the most liberal and secular societies.

Have secular societies always looked at all religious representations as equal? Or do they forego the idea of the greater homogeneity for the ‘value’ they see in themselves? And, interestingly enough, how does all of this hold up in courts?

We look at Europe because it’s largely made of secular democracies and it has been a meat-eating society. But yet there has been a disconnect based on religious grounds – on how the meat is slaughtered.

The Slaughter Regulation EU 2009 requires all animals, including poultry, to be stunned before slaughter causing loss of consciousness and sensibility without pain, including any process resulting in instant death. This is to be seen in light of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights which provides for a right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion which includes the freedom to manifest a religion or belief in, inter alia, practice and observance, subject only to such restrictions as are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society.” But it’s been anything but uniform.

  • The government and all political parties were against the ban on shechita (Jewish slaughter for Kosher) and it became the first plebiscite in Swiss history. Shechita was banned throughout Switzerland in 1893 after having been banned in the cantons of Aargau and St. Gallen in 1867.
  • Countries where Halal is partial — as in where animals must be stunned right after the cut — include Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Austria.
  • Countries that impose stunning before slaughter, and therefore do not allow Halal, comprise Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Denmark, and Sweden.

France has been another battlefield. A few years ago, a France 2 documentary showed that all slaughterhouses in the Greater Paris region were producing only halal-style meat, without labelling it as such. It caused an uproar within the Caucasian French population because they demanded to know what they were eating, as well as within the 5 million Muslims in France because they thought they would be singled out. Many European animal rights campaigners took the position that Islamic halal and Jewish kosher rules for ritual slaughter are less humane than standard European practice because they ban the practice of stunning animals before they are killed.

That has not been the only fight over meat in France. In March 2013, a French school in Gironde in the south-west of France stopped providing a meat alternative to those children who did not eat pork. Earlier 15% of the students were offered a substitute meat when pork was on the menu. They now had to forgo meals when it was. And the Mayor stood behind the school.

In July 2014, a French court ruled that no halal meat will be supplied in prison to Muslim prisoners. The French government sought to overturn a ruling by an administrative tribunal that the Saint-Quentin-Fallavier jail in south-eastern France should provide halal meals to Muslim prisoners, and that failing to do so violates their rights to practise their religion.

In the UK, “religious exemption” from the slaughter directive is in practice, and the UK alone carries out more halal slaughter than the rest of Europe. However, the British Veterinary Association, the Humane Slaughter Association and the RSPCA want to preclude the “religious exemption” from pre-stunning requirements in the UK as well.

Meat and Cruelty

Cruelty is a factor for some meats such that people and eventually governments will rally around to ban the meat. But the same meat in other societies remains perfectly palatable.

In California, Foie gras was banned on grounds of cruelty in 2012. Foie gras is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese through feeding tubes in order to engross their livers with fat. The challenge to the law reached the California Supreme Court, and the court upheld the ban on Foie gras production in the state of California. Interestingly, France which seeks to ban Halal, has no such ban on Foie gras.

Shark meat trade has increased 42% since 2000. More than 117,000 tonnes of meat was exported globally in 2011, along with 17,500 tons of shark fins says a United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) report showing that the overall global trade in shark fins has been declining because of activism and the growing stigma attached because of cruelty. India, where shark fin is not a food choice, is the second largest shark-catching nation in the world, and caught 74,000 tonnes of sharks in 2014. In India, when the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry prohibited the export of fins of all species of shark, the Seafood Exporters Association of India repeatedly made petitions to allow for shark fin exports to be allowed. China in December 2013 banned shark fin soup from ‘official banquets’.

Though the International Whaling Commission has banned commercial whaling, several countries continue whaling:

  • Japan launched its ‘scientific whaling’ programme widely recognised as a cover for its ongoing commercial whaling operation immediately after the ban. Meat from these whales is sold in food markets or given away free or at low costs to schools and hospitals.
  • Norway resumed whaling in 1993 using a loophole in the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, and resumed hunting for minke whales. As the catches drop, Norway is now hunting a higher proportion of breeding females.
  • Iceland withdrew from the IWC in 1992 and resumed whaling. They rejoined in 2004 and continue to whale endangered minke and fin whales.

In all these cases, the refusal to comply is based on ‘emotional and cultural’ reasons.

Meet the Cow of the English-speaking World

People have been hunting and eating wild horses since the end of the last Ice Age. Horses began to be domesticated around 4000 BCE which marks the shift in the way that people think about horses. Psychologically, horses now assumed the familiar role of companions in battle and work.

Horse meat is consumed throughout the world. Belgium, France and Germany all have long and unapologetic roots in equine cuisine. In Japan, a popular horse meat dish called basashi is served raw, sashimi style. In both, Kazakhstan and South Korea, fat from the neck meat of the horse is prized for its flavour. German sauerbraten was originally prepared using horse meat. In Northern Italian and Sicilian food, it is incorporated into sausages and salamis, or served dried and shredded for a snack called sfilacci, which looks like a plate of deep red vermicelli. The Dutch and Swedish prefer it sliced thin for lunch meat. Argentina, Brazil, and Chile don’t eat much of it, but process the meat for export. In French-speaking Canada, horse slaughterhouses still operate, and the meat is found in supermarkets. In 2010, Mexico was the top producer of horse meat for that year (140,000 tons), followed by China (126,000 tons) and Kazakhstan (114,000 tons).

But the British and the American’s won’t eat horse. Let’s see why — in a liberal democracy, where entrepreneurs are generally free to sell any type of food product they wish, provided that a food product is not derived from an endangered species and is not harmful to human health. A market for it exists. Manufacturers comply with existing sanitation and food safety regulations. And yet, there is no place for horse meat at the dining table.
The Christian Horse

British and American societies are predominantly Christian. It begs the question: Did Christianity play a role? It should have, but it didn’t really. In 732 AD Pope Gregory III issued a ban on the consumption of horse meat because it was a pagan tradition. In Catholic Ireland, the Collectio canonum Hibernensis, dating back to 700 AD imposed a penalty of four years on bread and water for the consumption of horse meat. But that did not stop horse meat from being a dietary staple in Europe, especially France and Germany, as we just saw. Yet, there is a broad aversion to it in English-speaking countries like the US, England, Ireland, Australia, and some parts of Canada.

The European Horse

During the Napoleonic wars, the surgeon-general Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey advised the starving troops to eat the meat of horses. Horse meat gained widespread acceptance in French cuisine during the later years of the Second French Empire. In 1866, the French government legalised the eating of horse meat and the first butcher’s shop specialising in horse meat opened in eastern Paris, providing quality meat at lower prices — a situation akin to that of beef in India today. Legally, in France, it could only be sold in designated butcheries — the chevalines (it is now available in supermarkets as well). In France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland, the medical and culinary establishment lauded horse meat, and the working classes gradually accepted it.

It was a long-held British belief that the French had developed their complicated cuisine merely to disguise the poor quality of their ingredients. For centuries, the English had prided themselves on the quality of their beef and horse-flesh was considered the poor man’s beef. The British Medical Journal once pointed out that since the verdict of ‘poor tasting beef’ was the opinion when cooked by leading French chefs, it would be decidedly worse when left to English cooking.

In the Victorian period, eating horse meat was associated with desperation and poverty. Even at the start of the industrial revolution in Britain, horse meat was as unacceptable as it is today. However during the wars, horse and donkey meat was eaten in Britain, especially in Yorkshire, until the 1930s, and in times of post-war food shortage, it was considered for use in British and US hospitals. By the 1950s though, all British horse consumption was dying. The horse is now given pet status in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland, which has further solidified the taboo on eating its meat.

The American Horse

The idea of eating horse in the United States is so abhorrent that putting an end to it has been in play for decades. The abundance of horses could never mean horse meat was food, not because of religion but because of ‘American values’. It’s like eating a dog — horses were always companions. In 2013, when regulators in Europe discovered that horse meat was part of the ground beef supply chain, the USDA started species testing stateside.
Slaughter in America

In most countries where horses are slaughtered for food, they are slaughtered in a similar fashion to cattle, i.e., in large-scale factory slaughterhouses where they are stunned with a captive bolt gun and bled to death. In less industrialized countries, they are slaughtered individually, outdoors. And horses were slaughtered in the USA for export.

In the 1980s, more than 300,000 horses were slaughtered annually in 16 federally inspected plants. In 2005, the United States was the largest producer of horse meat in the world even though production was shrinking. In 2006, no less than 100,000 horses were slaughtered in three slaughterhouses in the United States.

The present US horse population is estimated at 6.9 million, with an average age of 10.4 years. At an 10% annual population replacement rate, 700,000 horses will die or be slaughtered. The slaughter of horses was with the same federal veterinary infrastructure and safeguards that assure the humane slaughter of beef cattle and swine. However, in addition to these specific legislation to protect the transport of horses for slaughter has been in force in the USA since 1996. These provisions not extended to other food-producing animals.

It was the base regulation of ‘federal veterinary infrastructure and safeguards’ that the federal government attacked to remove horses from the list of animals that can be slaughtered.

Where are the Horses?

Horses were introduced to North America in the 16th century and have no natural predators. They are both owned and pack animals but there is a sizable population now in the wild. Richard Nixon signed The Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 which requires the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to safeguard the feral horse population in perpetuity.

The horse was estimated to have a population increase of 1-3% but in reality was closer to 10% and now the BLM is facing considerable legal and local pressure to keep them from running rampant across western rangeland, destroying habitat and sucking the land dry of water and forage. The horses that come in conflict with the environment or in conflict with other endangered animal or plant population are deemed ‘excessive’ and are rounded up by helicopter. This corralling attempts to protect rangeland habitats for other wildlife, like the endangered sage grouse. The original Act allowed horses to be euthanized in cases of overpopulation, and where adoptive owners could not be found. But in subsequent years, Congress attached riders to the BLM management budget, prohibiting the agency from euthanizing any healthy wild horses, even in the case of overpopulation. It spends upwards of $80 million annually to keep these horses fed.

The Wild Horse and Burro program bears no resemblance to the way the government handles other charismatic megafauna, some of which people hunt for sport, like wolves, or kill for meat, like bison. Robert Garrott of Montana State University, who assisted in a two-year study by the National Research Council of wild horse management techniques, said, “People love horses, they can be sane about the management of other companion animals like dogs and cats. But somehow horses are beyond reason – more than any other animal I can think of. Horses are the only species that I know of that society hasn’t embraced the idea that if there are excess and no one wants those animals that they are put down”. In addition to the 50,000 wild equines across 10 states – from Texas to Wyoming – another 50,000 head are currently being kept in holding facilities.

Laws against Slaughter

Supporters of the American horse meat ban say the horses are not bred for human consumption and to use horseflesh for this purpose is cruel, unnecessary, disrespectful, and immoral (much as cattle are not bred for human consumption in India).

Cultural reasons that verge on religious fervour are the main motivators for banning horse slaughter. In its mobilisation efforts, Equine Advocates uses a quote that elevates horses to the level of a national icon and invokes the nation’s cultural heritage.They believe they should no more be slaughtering their horses for export than they should slaughter our dogs or cats for export to countries where their meat is eaten. And it is this thought that resonates with lawmakers.

Horses remain property and anyone in the USA can humanely kill his or her own horse without fear of sanction. But it is being made impossible to industrialise this and the providing of horse tissue as meat for human consumption that has become the criminal human act.
In 2013, a New Mexico meat plant received federal approval to slaughter horses for meat, a move that drew immediate opposition from animal rights groups. The US Agriculture Department said it was required by law to issue the license to Valley Meat Co, Roswell, New Mexico, because it had met all federal requirements. The USDA was obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant. The first roadblock was created by The Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue who threatened to sue the USDA, saying that horses were raised as pets and as working animals. Because they are not intended as food animals, horses are given medications banned from other livestock, the groups said, questioning whether the meat would be safe. In 2013, Obama signed a bill to stop funding horse slaughterhouse inspections until 2016.

Earlier, in the first session of the 110th Congress (between January 3, 2007, and January 3, 2009, during the last two years of the second term of President George W Bush), two Bills were presented

  1. Senate Bill (S. 311) contained the clause “horses and other equines play a vital role in the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion”, and
  2. House Bill (H.R. 503) contained the clause “unlike cows, pigs, and many other animals, horses and other equines are not raised for the purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption.”

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in 2006 by saying the USDA could not spend any money to inspect horse plants. Without USDA inspection, meat plants cannot operate. The ban was part of the annual USDA funding bill and was renewed a year at a time through 2011. The prohibition expired in October 2011. And was revived in 2013 by Barack Obama in the case mentioned earlier.

It is simply that eating a horse or standing in the say of a bill banning horse slaughter is “un-American.”

But the battle to get the American horse off the slaughter list is an old one, and not unlike the Indian timeline to get the cow off the slaughter hook! The States and the Federal Government have all played a role. Here’s a quick timeline

  • November 3, 1998: California passed Proposition 6 which banned the slaughter of horses, donkeys and mules and sale of horse meat for human consumption.
  • June 8, 2005: Rep. John Sweeney (New York) proposed an amendment to the 2005-2006 appropriations bill that prohibited the use of federal funding for inspections of horses for meat. The amendment passed on a vote of 269-158.
  • September 20, 2005: Sen. John Ensign (Nevada), proposed a companion amendment to the Sweeney amendment that had passed the House of Representatives. The Senate amendment passed 69-28.
  • November 10, 2005: The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005-2006 is signed into law and includes the following paragraph that ultimately led to the closure of horse slaughterhouses in the United States.
    • H. R. 2744—45: SEC. 794. Effective 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 603) or under the guidelines issued under section 903 the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901 note; Public Law 104–127).
  • February 8, 2006: The USDA issued regulation (CFR 352.19) that allowed the remaining slaughterhouses to circumvent the horse inspection funding ban by paying for their own inspections.
  • September 7, 2006: The House of Representatives passes the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban the sale and transport of American horses for human consumption. It did not pass. However, on
  • January 7, 2007: Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) reintroduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503). The bill was referred to the House Agriculture Committee and never moved to a full vote.
  • January 17, 2007: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced S. 311, the senate version of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. It never reached a full vote of the Senate.
  • January 19, 2007: A three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, upheld Chapter 149 of the Texas Agriculture Code banning the sale, transfer or possession of horse meat for human consumption. The statute had been in effect since 1949 but had not been enforced during the years that the Texas slaughterhouses were operational. This decision was upheld by the 19 judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 6, 2007.
  • March 23, 2007: The Dallas Crown slaughterhouse of Kaufman, Texas shut down operations after the Mayor and residents of Kaufman fought a long battle to shutter the plant on grounds of public nuisance.
  • March 28, 2007: The US District Court for Washington DC ruled that it was illegal for horse slaughterhouses to pay the USDA for their own horse meat inspections, closing the loophole that had allowed horse slaughter to continue around the federal law. USDA inspectors were pulled from Cavel International, the Belgian-owned equine slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois the following day, and operations were shut down.
  • May 24, 2007: Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed H.B. 1711 into law, banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption in that state. The bill had been sponsored by Rep Robert Molaro (D-Chicago) and Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) in February 2007.
  • September 21, 2007: The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Illinois horse slaughter ban was constitutional, putting the final nail in the coffin of the last operational horse slaughterhouse in the US.
  • July 2011: Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and cosponsor Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reintroduced the American Horse Slaughter Protection Act (S. 1176).
  • November 2011: The Agriculture Appropriations Bill for 2012 was passed by Congress and signed into law without the wording that had prohibited horse meat inspections since 2006.
  • March 2013: The Safeguard American Food Exports Act was introduced in both the House and Senate. The Act would declare horse meat unsafe and ban the sale of horses to slaughter and of horse meat for human consumption.
  • April 2013: The White House released a budget proposal for 2014 that would once again prohibit federal funding of horse meat inspections.
  • January 2014: A new federal budget with the horse slaughter prohibition language included was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

While the Bills for an outright ban go back and forth, the backdoor horse slaughter ban works like this: The budget that is passed by Congress and signed into law, prohibits the Agriculture Department from spending money on inspecting horse slaughterhouses. Without inspections, the slaughter houses cannot operate legally and that effectively banned horse slaughter. And these have been upheld in court.

United States of California

The California Penal Code stipulates the penalty for cruelty against an animal or bestiality as a misdemeanour and is punishable by incarceration in a county jail for not more than one year. But eating horse meat is restricted under the Criminal Code characterising it as “criminal,” which communicates that an offence carries the most severe public moral sanction. But that was not enough. In 1998 California made a second offence of offering horse meat as human food punishable by a sentence of two years in prison.

What the Chinese won’t eat!

It is a common narrative that the Chinese will eat almost anything and a lot of their food customs and practices are strange to outsiders. In a society where the staple was rice, access to protein was valued and nothing was wasted. Ingredients were at a premium and culinary skills prized to make them highly palatable. The cow should have been the top of the menu.Strangely, dairy and beef are not a traditional Chinese food. For a nation built on the muscle of the ox for centuries, and where people could eat almost anything, what made them not eat them? Several reasons.

The Han Chinese avoided it altogether because traditionally, dairy and beef were associated with the nomadic people who lived on the fringes of China and who were regarded as fearful barbarians. In recent years, influenced by Western lifestyles, Chinese parents have begun to feed milk to their children. Cheese, however, is still generally far out and few Chinese have ever tasted it.

Long before the green revolution, the Chinese used bulls to plough the land. To show their gratitude, they did not eat beef. There is also a socio-economic theory that historically, the Chinese eat little or no beef because if they had chosen to use the limited land resources to rear cows for food instead of growing rice, it could have led to a food shortage. Even today with the level of prosperity rising, few Chinese people have ever eaten beef, since they are born into a belief where a cow is an object of worship and reverence. It is not commonplace to find beef in set menus of traditional Chinese restaurants even if the restaurant is pricey.

Figure: Chinese don’t’ eat beef (FAO, 2005)

Figure: Chinese doesn’t’ eat beef (FAO, 2005) China is the world’s largest producer of pork, mutton and eggs with urban per capita consumption three times that of rural. Pork was China’s meat of choice, and beef was hardly ever traditionally eaten. Beef and mutton account only for a small share of total meat consumption, but their shares have been increasing. This increase came from rapid mechanisation in the early nineties, releasing large numbers of cattle. In 1980 beef production was only 2.2 percent in 1980 which rose to 9.0 percent in 2002 and is climbing steadily on export. The figure takes into account only traditional ‘food’ animals for parity across the world and does not include say dogs and other animals bred for consumption.

The Chinese, traditionally, also do not eat beef because the cow is considered a sacred animal and a holy incarnation of the Goddess of Mercy — Guan Yin Goddess (Kannon or Kanzeon in Japanese, Kwan-se-um in Korean and Quan Thế in Vietnamese), one of the most famous Chinese Buddhist Images. Much like the Hindus, they believe that the cow is a gift from the gods, providing life-nourishing milk, clothing from its hide and a partner to help toil and till the land. The animal symbolizes wealth, abundance and selfless giving, and is well-loved and protected by the people

What’s with Indian Beef?

Beef is no longer just consumed by the Muslims, the Christians or the erstwhile ‘lower castes.’ Eating beef is ‘cool’ today in a way it was absolutely not in the Indian upper crest a decade ago When it comes to eating beef, India is much like China. The consumption in the mainstream population was non-existent but is increasing. And much like China, it is related to affluence and influence.

About secularism and religion, we’ve seen that the really liberal societies in Europe have grappled with staying on the course of liberalism and yet not diluting what they reckon are their ‘values’.

We’ve also seen that horse meat which gives rise to no religious fervour is an abhorrent meat for the English-speaking world merely on the basis of American or British ‘values’. The United States has been grappling with every conceivable law to make sure not only are horses not eaten, they are not even killed. It is strange that it seems perfectly alright for the US population and its lawmakers to say — for an animal they do not associate with any religious symbolism unlike the Indians or the Chinese do with a cow — that their gut feeling is that eating horse is “disgusting” or “morally perverse,” or “a perversion of the human-animal bond.”

When a particular meat is treated with that reverence for unproven and unprovable intuitive ethical reasons, is it ethically or constitutionally improper to ban a certain kind of meat for religious reasons? Why should Indian law not reflect Indian values? Is the Indian government motivated by religion? Perhaps; perhaps not. But if there is a value like un-American or un-French, why isn’t there a value of being un-Indian?

The present stance of the Government heavily regulating the ‘market for cattle’ is much the same as the US lawmakers. It is meant to stop the process without explicitly telling people it is not okay to consume beef, and without getting struck down in the courts. It works in the USA. There has already been a challenge by way of a PIL in the Kerala High Court where it was promptly quashed by the judge asking, “Where is the ban in the Order?”

 

About the author: Rakesh Shukla is the Founder & CEO of TWB_ which is the partner for technology & business content for Fortune 500 leaders worldwide. A telecommunications engineer by training, he has been published widely on telecommunications and fuzzy set theory. A motivational speaker, he speaks of creating success from professional and personal failure. Rakesh is potentially the largest rescuer of dogs in the world with over 7000 rescues and is called the ‘dog-father’ for being papa to the 750 rescued dogs that live with him. His publication ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs’ is the largest publisher of investigative, data and legal analysis of Indian stray dogs in the world.

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