Archive for ‘sacred cow’

07/04/2017

Gujarat: India state approves life term for killing cows – BBC News

The western Indian state of Gujarat has passed a law making the slaughter of cows punishable with life imprisonment.

Under an amendment to the state’s Animal Preservation Act, those found guilty of transporting beef will also be jailed for 10 years.

The cow is considered sacred by India’s Hindu majority, and killing cows is illegal in many states.

But the new amendment means Gujarat now has the toughest laws on the issue in the country.

Offenders will face heavy fines, as well as time behind bars. The penalty for either act has been doubled from 50,000 rupees ($771; £618) to 100,000 rupees.

Why India man was lynched over beef rumours

Why the humble cow is India’s most polarising animal

India meat traders strike over closures

Gujarat Minister of State Pradipsinh Jadeja told reporters that the cow was a symbol of Indian culture and the amendments to the act had been made “in consultation with the people”.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has also spoken repeatedly of “harsh” punishment for those who kill cows.

The new laws will come into effect from Saturday.

Source: Gujarat: India state approves life term for killing cows – BBC News

19/08/2016

Cowboys and Indians | The Economist

CLOSE your eyes and you could be in a farmyard: a docile heifer slurps a grassy lunch off your hand, mooing appreciatively. Now open your eyes to the relentless bustle of a huge city: the cow is tied to a lamp-post, cars swerve to avoid it and its keeper demands a few rupees for providing it with the snack.

Across Mumbai, an estimated 4,000 such cow-handlers, most of them women, offer passing Hindus a convenient way to please the gods. In a country where three-quarters of citizens hold cows to be sacred, they form part of an unusual bovine economy mixing business, politics and religion.India is home to some 200m cows and more than 100m water buffaloes. The distinction is crucial. India now rivals Brazil and Australia as the world’s biggest exporter of beef, earning around $4 billion a year. But the “beef” is nearly all buffalo; most of India’s 29 states now ban or restrict the slaughter of cows. With such strictures multiplying under the government of Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, entrepreneurs have sought new ways to profit.

One promising line of business has been to become a gau rakshak, or cow protector. Some of these run charitably funded retirement homes for ageing cows, including rural, ranch-style facilities advertised on television. Other rakshaks have proven more concerned with punishing anyone suspected of harming cows or trading in their meat. Such vigilantes have gained notoriety in recent years as attacks on meat-eating Muslims or on lower-caste Hindus working in the leather trade have led to several deaths. A mob assaulted a group of Dalits (the castes formerly known as untouchables) last month in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat, thinking they had killed a cow. In fact they were skinning a carcass they had bought legitimately; Dalits traditionally dispose of dead cows.

More commonly, India’s less scrupulous cowboys simply demand protection money from people who handle cattle. An investigation by the Indian Express, a newspaper, found that cattle breeders in the northern state of Punjab were forced to pay some 200 rupees ($3) a cow to ensure that trucks transporting livestock could proceed unmolested. Under pressure from the rakshaks, the state government had also made it harder to get permits to transport cattle.

Earlier this month Mr Modi broke a long silence on the issue. Risking the ire of his Hindu-nationalist base, the prime minister blasted “fake” gau rakshaks for giving a good cause a bad name. If they really cared about cows, he said, they should stop attacking other people and instead stop cows that munch on rubbish from ingesting plastic, a leading cause of death.

In any case, vigilantism and the beef trade generate minuscule incomes compared with India’s $60 billion dairy industry. The country’s cows and buffaloes produce a fifth of all the world’s milk. As Indian incomes rise and consumers opt for costlier packaged brands, sales of dairy products are rising by 15% a year. But although a milk cow can generate anywhere from 400 to 1,100 rupees a day, this still leaves the question of what to do with male animals, as well as old and unproductive females.

Not all can be taken in by organised shelters. This makes the urban cow-petting business a useful retirement strategy. A good patch (outside a temple, say) can generate around 500 rupees a day from passers-by. Feed costs just 20 rupees a day, says Raju Gaaywala, a third-generation cow attendant whose surname, not coincidentally, translates as cow-handler.

He inherited his patch in Mulund, a northern suburb of Mumbai, when his father passed away in 1998. His latest cow, Lakshmi, cost him 4,000 rupees around three years ago and generates around 40 times that every year, enough to send his three children to English-language schools and, he hopes, to set them up in a different form of entrepreneurship.

The handlers fear their days may be limited. A nationwide cleanliness drive has targeted urban cow-handlers, who are in theory liable for fines of 10,000 rupees. In practice the resurgent Hindu sentiment under Mr Modi should help leave the cattle on the streets. It may kick up other opportunities, too. Shankar Lal, an ideological ally of the prime minister’s, in an interview with the Indian Express extolled the many health merits of cow dung. Spreading a bit on the back of a smartphone, as he does every week, apparently protects against harmful radiation. Usefully for Indian farmers, only local cows can be used, not Western breeds such as Holsteins or Jerseys, he warns: “Their dung and milk are nothing but poison.”

Source: Cowboys and Indians | The Economist

08/08/2016

India’s Controversial Cow Protection Group Conducts Cattle Census – India Real Time – WSJ

A group concerned about the safety of India’s cows has embarked on a controversial and ambitious mission this month: counting all the cattle in the state of West Bengal.

“Our aim is to save the cow mother,” said Subrata Gupta, president of the Bengal branch of Cow Development Cell, which used to be associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

The group will use the data to protect the state’s cows, many of which are being illegally exported to Bangladesh and Pakistan for slaughter, said Mr. Gupta.

The status of cows — an animal deeply revered in Hinduism – is a divisive issue in the country. Critics say conservative Hindu groups, emboldened by the BJP’s power in New Delhi, are eating away at the country’s secular roots by trying to ban beef consumption.

Over the weekend Mr. Modi spoke out against self-styled vigilantes who say they are trying to protect cows. He urged state governments to punish them when they use cow protection as a rationalization for hate crimes.

Cow slaughter is already illegal in many Indian states–including Uttar Pradesh where a Muslim man was killed by a mob last year following rumors he had slaughtered a cow for food.

The eastern state of West Bengal, however, allows the killing of cows during the Islamic religious festival of Eid.

Around 6,000 volunteers from Mr. Gupta’s group are going door-to-door across state to record how many cows each household owns. The group wants to finish the survey before Sept. 12, when Muslims will celebrate Eid.

“Thousands of cows are being smuggled across India’s border into Bangladesh, where they will be slaughtered,” said Mr. Gupta of the Cow Development Cell which has groups apprehending cattle trucks, even though it has no legal authority to do so.

He said activists from the group freed about 40,000 animals last month.

The BJP recently broke ties with Mr. Gupta’s Cow Development Cell.

“It was an all-India decision that a separate cell for cow development is not needed,” said Dilip Ghosh, president of the BJP in West Bengal.

That hasn’t stopped Mr. Gupta and his army of self-styled cow protectors who say they will release the results of the cow census on Sept. 15.

Source: India’s Controversial Cow Protection Group Conducts Cattle Census – India Real Time – WSJ

16/06/2016

Why an Indian Hindu Group Wants a Ministry of Cows – India Real Time – WSJ

Cows have long held a sacred place in India’s society, revered as holy by the country’s predominantly Hindu population. If one group gets its way they might soon have a government department devoted to their interests too.

The cow-protection unit of the right-wing Hindu group Vishva Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) is urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form a dedicated ministry for the preservation and protection of cows.

“Gou mata (mother cow) is the symbol of life, soul of our culture. She is not being given enough importance,” an official at the Bharatiya Govansh Rakshan Samvardhan Parishad (Indian Cattle Protection and Promotion Council), who didn’t wish to be named, said.

He said the “whole idea is to save the cows from getting killed.” Rearing cows will also increase milk production in the country, he added.

Slaughter of bovines has long been a fraught issue in India, but a renewed push to protect the animals came after a Hindu mob killed a Muslim man in the town of Dadri, 31 miles from New Delhi last September over rumors that he butchered a cow. The murder unleashed a wave of violence and sparked a debate over religious intolerance in the country.

There is no central law on cattle slaughter in India, though various states have introduced their own rules since Mr. Modi took power. A number of states have also tightened restrictions on the consumption of beef.

Minority groups, including around 170 million Muslims, have expressed concern over the clampdown.

The official from the Indian Cattle Protection and Promotion Council said members of his organization plan to meet ministers and members of Mr. Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to ask them to take up the issue of a separate cow ministry in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, which begins in July.

“Our goal is to restore cows of bharatiya (Hindu) breed back to the country’s economy,” he added.Despite the various bans, India is the world’s largest exporter of beef, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. India exported 2.4 million tons of beef last year, compared with 2 million tons by Brazil. India alone accounts for nearly 24% of global beef exports.

India has also ranked first among the world’s milk-producing nations since 1998, according to India’s department of animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. Milk production in India during the period has gone up from 17 million tons in 1950 to 146.3 million tons till last year, it said.

Source: Why an Indian Hindu Group Wants a Ministry of Cows – India Real Time – WSJ

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