A cow bill trumps defence

Scan on fodder tab after slaughter ban

By Anita Joshua
  • Published 8.07.17

New Delhi, July 7: Amid cow vigilantism, a professor of economics specialising in agrarian issues today wondered aloud whether those demanding a nationwide ban on cow slaughter had thought about its fallout, more so as a beginning had been made with the restrictions on the sale of animals for slaughter at cattle markets.

A calculation by professor Vikas Rawal of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University's School of Social Sciences on the basis of current data has shown that such a ban would be a drain on the economy as the annual budget to just feed the additional heads of cattle would be much more than the defence budget.

According to Rawal, the one-time capital expenditure on sheds would be Rs 10 lakh crore. The annual fodder bill for male cattle heads would be Rs 5.4 lakh crore, much more than the defence budget.

This apart, he wanted to know where the fodder would be sourced from. "We do not have so much land to provide the required amount of hay. Will we import fodder? And what about water as each animal drinks about 20 litres per day."

Calling a nationwide ban on cow slaughter a "terrible and ridiculous idea", Rawal flagged the fact that the incidence of "mysterious deaths" was as it is high among male calves, particularly in India. "Slaughtering them is actually the least painful of all deaths as often they are either starved to death or left to freeze to death."

Neither is switching to buffalos an option that can be pan-Indian - especially not in east and south India - as they need cooler climes at least for some part of the year for better production, he said. Also, the cost of rearing buffaloes is more than cows, Rawal said, warning that cow politics could affect India's milk production.

Historian D.N. Jha, who wrote The Myth of The Holy Cow, sought to impress upon the gathering that "gau-bhakti" (cow worship) was a late 19th century construct. "The fact is that our ancestors were beef-eaters," Jha said.

Stating that the Aryans came from outside and were pastoral, making it natural for them to eat beef, he said there was "plentiful" evidence in the Vedas to show that ancient Indians ate beef.

It was only when the Aryans became agrarian that the treatment of cows started changing, he said.

The family of Pehlu Khan, who was lynched in Rajasthan's Alwar three months ago while transporting cattle with all the required documentation, was present at the meeting.Pehlu's son Irshad recounted to the gathering what had happened. Irshad's uncle Hussain Khan said he and his family would commit suicide at Jaipur High Court if bail was granted to Pehlu's killers.