The ban on cow slaughter has been much debated and a lot of hue and cry was raised on how it affects the religious freedom.  But the economic advantages of a complete ban on cow slaughter are little understood.

Beef exports : India’s exports of beef which includes buffalo meat comes to a total of USD 4 billion and we along with Brazil account for the tag of the largest exporter of beef. The bulk of India’s buffalo meat exports are to Asian countries — 11 of the top 15 destinations for buffalo meat by value in 2015-16 were in Asia and 3 in Africa (Algeria, Egypt, and Angola). The largest importer of beef from India is Vietnam, but they themselves do not consume this. From Vietnam (and other Asian Nations) it is further exported to China. Thus indirectly China is our biggest customer of beef. China technically does not import any buffalo meat from India except through the grey market with Chinese traders reportedly using Vietnam’s Haiphong port to bring in Indian buffalo meat loaded on small vessels.The buffalo meat exported by India is mostly raw, de-boned chunks, used primarily in the processed and canned food industry. Very little makes its way to kitchens for direct consumption by individuals. This is because buffalo meat is tougher, and is hence considered inferior to cow meat; for this reason, it also fetches a discount to regular beef in the world market. Thus, the average free-on-board price of buffalo meat (actually including fresh cow beef by default) exported from India in 2014-15 was $ 3,240 (about Rs 2.1 lakh) per tonne, whereas the corresponding unit value for chilled and frozen beef cuts from Brazil was $ 4,515 (more than Rs 2.9 lakh).This clearly shows that economically we are not even getting good profits from killing our cattle. Then why are we fighting our people? To increase our exports of beef, we are killing our cows, replacing superior Indian breed of cows with inferior Jersey & Exotic breed of cows, increasing the share of buffaloes even though their milk is not as good as cow milk … in short, doing work which does not even make good business sense.

Milk & milk products :Russia stands at the 15th position in importing beef from India and we earn about Rs.188 cr. p.a. from this. But experts have estimated that India could export about $400 million worth of dairy products to Russia because they have a perennial shortage of milk and milk products in their country. While India’s share in global beef exports is above 17% of the total share of world exports, our share of global milk exports is just 0.68% which stands at Rs.754 crores. If instead we tried to increase our share in the global milk exports (inclusive of processed products like cheese & milk powder, etc.) to 17% we could easily earn the same amount as through beef. In fact, India has a special advantage as compared to the rest of the world because our Indigenous breed of cows give only A2 milk as against Jersey & other exotic breeds which give the A1 milk which has a mutated gene, consumption of which gives rise to cancer and a host of other ailments. We could easily be the world leader in production and export of A2 milk & through some excellent marketing, we could earn much more than through the sale of beef.

Fertilizers : One of the baseless argument given in favour of killing cattle is that once they stop giving milk, they become burden on the farmers. India imports fertilizers to the tune of USD 2 billion per annum in Urea alone (about half of the value of export of beef). While fertilizers are necessary for maintaining productivity, it is a well-known fact that repeated use of artificial fertilizers only make the soil increasingly infertile and such soil requires more water. In contrast, use of natural fertilizers like cow dung and urine, improves the quality of soil and the soil retains its natural moisture, thus reducing the requirement of water pumped to the fields. It is time now for the Government along with ZillaParishads and Gram Panchayats to work towards increasing Gou-char Bhoomi (waste lands for grazing), providing shelter to old and abandoned cattle, and finding ways to utilize their dung and urine in a more economical and effective manner. This would reduce the need for fertilizers to be imported. That apart, cattle dung can be used for a variety of other purposes like making natural pesticides, joss sticks (agarbattis), fuel, etc. Thus the farmers would not be burdened and in fact, the villages could even make profits of the sale of such natural fertilizers & fuel.

Natural farming & organic produce :The organic food export realization in 2016 was around 298 million USD. Organic products are exported to European Union, US, Canada, Switzerland, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asian countries, Middle East, South Africa etc., all countries where our balance of payments is not in our favour.A very beneficial result of the use of natural fertilizers is crops and fruit grown Organically, something which increases the value of the produce by at least 20%. As the world becomes more aware of the dangers of the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they prefer organically grown crops, fruits and flowers. With our population of cattle (among the largest in the world) India is in the best position today to turn organic. This would not just help in improving the health of our own people, but we could also increase our profits on the export of agricultural and horticultural products. By making Sikkim a 100% organic state, we have proved to ourselves the economic viability of doing this and we could extend this to the whole of India. And for this, we need cows and cattle now, more than ever.

Good health : Has one ever wondered why Ayurveda never used other animals as guinea pigs (like in Allopathy) to test their medicine? Ayurveda owes a lot to cows. Our ancient doctors knew that cows ate special herbs/plants whenever anybody in the family fell ill. This is a natural tendency of cows. They used to follow & observe cows to know which herbs/plants they consumed and would also notice the difference in the taste and quality of the milk given by such cows. Cow’s milk, especially in case of those which graze in natural environment, has special medicinal properties and so does the urine & dung of cows. All this has now been proven scientifically. It is not for nothing that our ancients recommended panch-gavya (milk, curds, ghee, urine, dung) products from time to time for good health. Unfortunately manyin the present generationare against consuming the urine or dung without realising that many allopathic medicines and modern products (like lipsticks for example) have worse products hidden in them, and these products in fact make them more susceptible to side-effects. Also, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides affects a whole generation of people with horrible side-effects (for example – the endosulphan pesticide effect in Kerala). Good health by the use of cow products is a given and we can save on millions of dollars spent on pharmaceutical products, every year. It comes as no surprise then, that the fertilizer and pharmaceutical industries are at the foremost in indirectly opposing a ban on cow slaughter.

Terrorism :It is now a known fact that money earned by the illegal slaughter houses is used for funding only illegal activities. Smuggling, terrorism, anti-national activities, all are funded by the monies earned from these illegal slaughter houses. One of the ways to reduce these activities is to cut off the funding & thus banning the slaughter of cows makes a lot of sense.

Other criminal activities : Cow smugglers who escape the law go one step further and start indulging in other criminal activities like molestation, rape, robbery and murder. There has been a visible spurt of such activities in areas where cattle smugglers carry out their activities. This is one reason why people of all religions have become vigilantes and try and keep these people out of their village. Only the poor farmer who has lost his cattle to these rogues knows the cost involved in buying new cattle. It was not for nothing that Azam Khan (MP) made sure that the state police recovered his lost buffaloes immediately. It was not just love for his cattle; it was the fact that he probably knew how ruthless the cattle smugglers are and how once they mark a territory, they attack with greater frequency and then graduate to worse crimes.

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People wonder why so much furore is made now, especially when there have always been leather products in our country. Yes, the leather industry was there in every village, but they did not have to kill cows for that. Now greed has changed the situation to one of violence. Also, maybe people did eat beef in the past too, but it was not so that they could challenge others or hurt the sentiments of others. Today, people seem to take it as a sport or show-off and eat beef to satiate their ego or to show the others that they can do it and so they will. Eating beef in India is not only about necessity any more – it is about a display of power and misuse of freedom. But why should innocent animals be sacrificed for this? Why make them pay for our pleasure? Do ponder on this.