India's ban on beef devastating to economy and secularism

Posted Apr 5, 2015 by Karen Graham
India's place in the world as the second largest exporter of beef is in jeopardy as the Home Minister contemplates a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. Muslims are a minority population and as such, see a ban on beef as an assault on India's secularism.
Hinduism is based on the concept of omnipresence of the Divine and the presence of a soul in all cre...
Hinduism is based on the concept of omnipresence of the Divine and the presence of a soul in all creatures, including bovines.
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Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been contemplating using his position and power to implement a beef ban across the whole of India, a move that could effectively destroy the country's beef industry, and possibly turn out to be unconstitutional.
The recent ban on slaughtering cows in the state of Maharashtra was quickly followed with similar bans on the slaughter of cows in Rajasthan and Haryana. Most people now see the ban going on in BJP ruled states as the prelude to a nationwide ban on cattle slaughter.
With killing cows now considered a crime, the only real difference is one of faith, and that is starting to cause a lot of rumblings. Hindus make up 80 percent of India's population, with 1.2 billion people. They regard cows as being Divine. The Muslim population of the country numbers 180 million, and they eat beef.
Secularism in India is not the same as secularism in the West
Many Muslims see the ban on slaughtering cattle as evidence of an assault on one of the main principles of India's independence, secularism. Secularism is a key principle that declares that people of different religions are equal under the law.
Westerners see secularism as being a principle of democracy with two major points, one, a separation of church and state, and two, a belief that all religions are equal under the law. When the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India was enacted in 1976, India's preamble to their Constitution proclaimed they were a secular nation. But the idea of India being a secular nation is one for debate, and the issue has caused a number of problems.
Muslims adhere to Sharia-based Muslim Personal Law while Hindus, Christians, and other religions adhere to common law. So this means that if the Indian government imposes a law that bans the slaughter of cows, or, in other words, imposes a "uniform civil code," Muslims claim the law would be based on majoritarian Hindu sensibilities and ideals. And they would be correct in this regard.
India is still a meat-eating country, regardless of the law
Not only is India the second largest exporter of cattle in the world, but it is the fifth largest consumer of beef in the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP Party has said the cow needs greater protection, "despite the cost to the country's multi-billion-dollar beef industry."
Economically, a nationwide ban on slaughtering cattle would cripple India's cattle industry, putting thousands of people out of work. Additionally, the overall health of the population would take a severe hit. From 1981 to 2001, meat consumption in India rose from 2,600 million tons to 5,300 million tons. This is because the Indian diet has become protein-based instead of carbohydrate-based.
But perhaps the people most hurt by this ban will be the many, many poor and marginalized who are the main consumers of beef. These numbers include many Hindus, of course. Added to this are the 2,226 endangered tigers India has said they are trying to save from extinction. The Merinnews says: "The blindfolded state government is showing more concern toward Hindu sentiments by neglecting other inter-linked aspects."