The Big Picture – Violence Against Cattle Traders: Is it Harming the Rural Economy?
The issue of violence against cattle traders came up for discussion in Rajya Sabha. The MP brought to notice of hanging of two cattle traders in Jharkhand and demanded actions against the perpetuators. However on broader perspective violence against the traders have always been in the limelight. With India being one of the top exporters of beef the violence against the helpless cattle traders assumes significance. The article deals with the issues associated with the cattle traders and how such can be resolved.
India has the largest cattle population in the world and is also is one of the top exporters of Beef. India has been exporting beef since ages and it is the source of livelihood for poor and marginalised farmers once the cow/buffalo stops giving milk. As a result, violence against cattle traders or someone who is involved in this business is extremely condemnable.
A lot of artisans are involved in leather making business that is dependent on leather from cattle’s. If the supply of leather from slaughter houses decreases the livelihood of the people involved in leather industry gets affected and they will be rendered unemployed. Also cattle’s are considered as insurance for middle class farmer families at the time distress. If there are no cattle traders who buy these cows/bulls, farmers and the whole rural economy get affected. (29k crores was the value of beef exports in the last fiscal)
Instead of committing violence against hapless traders we need to evolve to a more pragmatic policy. Even though the constitution bans slaughter of cows, nobody has offered solutions to dealing with aging bulls. Attaching religion to the food is not plausible in a country where the cattle business is going on hassle free for centuries. Even if the cattle slaughtering is banned, the larger question of environmental impact that the corpse of a cattle causes is a big question mark.
Finally India is a country which has given the element of religion to animals. Given the kind of cattle population that India has and the level of poverty, banning of cattle at this point of time is not a one stop solution. However other aspects of discourse like banning the use of milch cows for beef and stricter enforcement of such rules is the need of the hour. All said and done the positive environment impact that the cows has on eco system should not be forgotten (pest management) the health impact of consuming beef is also largely questioned by doctors. There needs to be a slow and steady process that involves health NGO’s in creating awareness to people about negative impact of consuming beef, use of leather items etc. At present abetting violence in the name of cruelty to animals is a short sighted action that gets nowhere out of the actual conservation efforts that needs to be taken to protect the cow.