Post 2014 general elections, the vigilantes working for cow protection have been empowered. The legal ban on the slaughter of cows and the selling of Beef in India came as an expected cyclone and those who had made no provisions had to face the worst effects of the beef ban. The clouds and politics over beef ban had barely settled before the newly appointed chief minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, declared his government’s zero tolerance towards those who running illegal slaughterhouses and selling banned beef.

Three classmates discuss the ongoing meat crisis and also the attitude of media and towards such policies of the government.

---------- RECESS BELL RINGS ----------

ARNAB – Hi friends, Ms Anuradha’s class was soo boring. I am glad the bell rang or I would have dozed off in her class.

AARTI – I do not like the way she teaches.

AAMIR – Mr. Amit is my favourite teacher. I wouldn’t mind even if he teaches us the entire day.

AARTI – Ooh please, I understand he is good but studying Civics the whole day will make me crazy.

ARNAB – Anyway guys let us not waste our 30 minutes of recess. We’ll quickly have our lunch and then go and play cricket.

AAMIR – Exactly, these 30 minutes fly off like a fly.

ARNAB – I have got Pasta in my lunch today. What have you guys brought?

AARTI – I have brought Aaloo Ka Paratha.

AAMIR – My mum has packed Biryani for me.

ARNAB – Your mum cooks awesome Biryani. Better than any restaurant chef, Delicious.

AAMIR – She also cooks awesome Tandoori chicken and Mutton. My dad is even planning to start a small non-veg food restaurant with my mum as the head chef.

AARTI – This is just not the time to get into non veg business. Yogi Adityanath has gone crazy. He is getting all the slaughter houses closed.

ARNAB – Not all, only the illegal ones and ones which despite the central ban on beef, were trading in them.

AAMIR – But why ban Beef also. Our country was running fine without the beef ban. I see no point behind it.

AARTI – All of this is being done to appease the Hindu voters who consider cows sacred.

AAMIR – You guys are also Hindus, you people must be delighted by the ban.

ARNAB – Bans are never delightful. There are two general implications of ‘Banning’, one that the item banned is either threatened or is potentially harmful and two that the ‘people’ need that item. Banning is never good and to say that the Hindus would be delighted by the ban is wrong. Most of the Hindus are also equally into beef, Hindus are as much a part of the ‘People’ as Muslims. Why would we be delighted?

AARTI – But getting a religious commodity protected by law is an achievement and should/ would generate a wave of delight amongst the Hindus.

ARNAB – Religious commodity is an oxymoron. Cows have never been a commodity for the Hindus. They are goddess for Hindus.

AAMIR – No offense intended guys, but how can the Hindus consider an animal as a Goddess? That is such a primitive and an illogical point.

AARTI – I agree with you Aamir. Such beliefs only make Hinduism seem a lot more conservative, unscientific, orthodox and illogical. We must do away with such futile and primitive dictums of Hinduism. We as community should move forward and modernize ourselves by aborting these dictums.

ARNAB - This isn't the only Hindu ‘dictum’ which seems meaningless. There are many such beliefs. In fact I do not agree that these laws are meaningless or senseless. If we were to trace the genesis of Hinduism, we will find how and why did the Hindus come up with such beliefs.

AAMIR – Would you please enlighten us?

ARNAB – You want me to explain you how?

AARTI – Yes we do!

ARNAB – You see, Unlike Islam and Christianity, Hinduism is not a product of a prophet. In fact, Hinduism never really began as a religion but as a way of life. People lived and they feared and worshiped everything which they believed could either end them or could help them sustain. They started worshipping the sun, the moon, the trees, fire, water and ‘COW’. This was done for centuries and later on in the Hindu scriptures the Cows, the fire, sun and moon all were adopted as gods and goddesses in order to give a reason to a habit.

AARTI – Now as we know that cows aren’t really goddess then why are we still stuck with such a belief?

AAMIR – in fact, our P.M. & C.M. have gone ahead and litigated to prevent cows from being butchered. It seems so ancient.

ARNAB – How do you guys define god?

AARTI – I don’t believe in God

AAMIR – God is someone whom we believe is the reason why we all exist.

ARNAB – The reason why we exist and we sustain. Cows have helped us sustain. Cow milk & Cow dung has helped us all for years to grow and to sustain. By this logic, Cows do qualify as goddess.

AARTI – But today with the help of science we are no longer depended upon cows for their milk.

ARNAB – Yes we aren’t. But there are many people who still are. Not everyone has access to artificial and science made milk. We do not even need our parents after 20 years of our life but would it be sane to leave them after that? Moreover, it is not only about Cow milk but also about preserving a part of our culture.

AAMIR – But the government has no right to decide what we may eat and what we may not. By banning beef, the government has in a way interfered in our personal lives as well. Beef ban is not only unconstitutional but is also immoral.

ARNAB – That is a strong argument and the one which many activists in our country are using these days to blame the government. But there is defence to this argument as well.

AARTI – I doubt if that would be a very strong one.

ARNAB – OK, we all know that Salman Khan (a famous Bollywood actor) is being tried in the court for Killing a Black Buck. Killing a Black Buck is a crime like killing a Cow. Now if I come out and say I like eating Black Buck and therefore it is wrong on the part of the govt to criminalise killing of Black buck, will you be as agitated as you are when the killing and eating cows is banned.

AARTI – Obviously not, Black bucks are rare and killing a black buck is wrong. Cows aren’t rare, they aren’t not gonna die out.

ARNAB – And Black bucks aren’t sacred to any religious community. So while the Black bucks have the advantage of being rare, the cows have the advantage of being sacred.

AAMIR – The comparison makes no sense.

ARNAB – It does. I like to kill and eat black bucks and tigers but no one would allow me to. This also qualifies as a breach of my right to eat anything I want, if any such right really exists.

AAMIR – Logically it does make some sense.

ARNAB – If it does then why did none of the agencies, which are today fighting to decriminalise cow slaughter and to revoke beef ban, come out and fight to decriminalise the killing of Black Bucks and tigers.

AARTI – But if we go by this point of yours then tomorrow someone will come up and say that they like eating humans, would you also ask for decriminalising murders.

ARNAB – Exactly my point, You cannot ask for decriminalising the killing of a being just because it forms or may form a part of someone’s diet.

AAMIR – But we must also point out the fact that the number of people eating Black buck or tigers or Humans is much less in comparison to those eating beef. By banning beef, the government has attempted to regulate the diet of a lot more people.

ARNAB – In a liberal democratic state where in we want such rights, the rights of one matters just as much as those of many. I might be the only person in the entire state who likes eating black buck or a tiger the government still ought to respect my right to eat anything I want to and would thus have to decriminalise the hunting of Black bucks.

AARTI – So what do you propose?

ARNAB – I do not propose anything. All I say is that we aren’t living in a perfect or an absolutely liberal state wherein the powers of the government are limited only up till preserving human life. Also that such a state is neither desirable nor possible. Because in such a liberal state with a powerless govt, people will come out and fight each other for their selfish gains and thereby prevent the state from attaining what they are meant to.

Since we cannot have an absolute liberal state what we have or what we live under is a regulated state. Where the government has the right and the power to suppress some of our natural rights in order to preserve and protect human life and culture.

AAMIR – But how is beef ban protecting human life?

ARNAB - If beef is not banned and if the cows, considered sacred by the Hindus, are butchered as they were being then it is possible that the Hindus would retaliate and harm those involved in such a trade. Banning beef can also be seen as a preventive measure.

AARTI – But we are also seeing how this crackdown on slaughter houses and the ban on beef has economically impacted the lives of all those who were into this business. Do you not think that by banning beef and shutting down slaughterhouses the govt is favoring one community while acting against the other because this industry is highly dominated by the Muslims.

ARNAB – That is what the media says. I know a lot of Hindus also who are equally into this business. Though not directly. Many restaurant owners, who are Hindus, had to shut down because the supplies weren’t available. So to say that it is favoring one community while acting against the other would be stupid and too mainstream.

AAMIR – what about the economic impact on the state of the ban? Banning beef and closing slaughter houses has hurt our state economically.

ARNAB – Marijuana if legalised would bring in tons of taxes to the govt treasury. So should we un-ban it? same with cocaine and other narcotics. Should we only look into the economic impact of a policy? This is a utilitarian argument which holds no ground in the modern world. Moreover, the slaughter houses which are being banned are the illegal ones and they therefore do not contribute a penny to our state’s treasury.

The slaughter houses which are being shut down were illegal and unhygienic. The crackdown does have some economic implications but economic implications alone cannot de-justify it.Yes economy does matters but there is a cost of prioritising economy which no currency can pay.

AARTI – So to sum you up, you have said that beef ban is fine because cows form a part of the Hindu tradition and preserving cows is as justified as is preserving black bucks and tigers and this ban is not an attempt on the part of the govt to regulate our diet.

AAMIR – He also said that the implications of the ban are almost equally felt by the Hindus as by the Muslims, though not directly.

ARNAB – yes exactly & I hope you won’t call me a conservative Hindu after this discussion.

-------- RECESS OVER, BELL RINGS -------

AARTI – I want to & especially because your arguments lost us a chance to play cricket today.

AAMIR – But we had a good mental exercise

ARNAB – The workout is not over yet, it’s Ms Anuradha’s class again

AAMIR – Ooh no!

ARNAB & AARTI - Hahaha

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