By Mir Iqbal Ahmad
It seems beef ban issue is a new weapon in the hands of the Hinduvta brigade to polarise Indian voters. The right wing party of India is trying its best to get maximum out of this division.
For instance, Bihar has 82.7 per cent Hindu population followed by 16.9 per cent Muslims. The literacy level in the state is comparatively lower compared to most Indian states.
During elections in any state of India, politics of interests always has the upper hand and parties never look at their basic ideologies. The grand alliance between the JDU-RJD-Congress and NDA parties in Bihar recently was an outcome of this. The alliance led by the Congress was all set to attract secularists, Yadav and Muslim votes whereas the NDA led alliance was to attract schedule caste and Hindu votes. To some extent beef row will help them to attract the Hindu votes. Further, the entry of Owaisi brothers in Bihar polls is also seen as understanding between Owaisi brothers and the BJP to divide the Muslim vote. So it may benefit the BJP in both ways. But the Congress led grand alliance is also trying its best to expose the BJP and Owaisi brothers. If they expose them well, it may give them edge over the NDA alliance as Bihar is also dominated by caste politics.
However, the policies of government related to bovine slaughter are always favourable as it contributes a lot to Indian economy. Anything against it may hurt India’s economy badly. Bovine slaughter feeds Indian economy in several ways. Major share of leather comes from cattle skin, considered one of the finest skins for value-added leather products. In foreign trade policy leather industry is considered as a major sector having immense potential for export growth and employment generation. Today leather industry in India is among the top ten foreign exchange earners. India is second largest producer of footwear and leather garments in the world. India accounts for a share close to 3 per cent in the global leather import trade. This industry alone provides 2.5 million jobs to Indian people. Having said that it is also one such potential sector which can fulfil “make in India” dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Whereas India ranks fifth in beef production globally, it is seventh in domestic consumption as it is predominantly non-vegetarian country and first in beef export amounting to 23.5 per cent globally. The exported worth of bovine meat in 2013 was $4.5 billion. Between April-November 2014, the sale of bovine meat and meat products was worth $3.3 billion compared to $ 2.8 billion in the same period of the previous year registering a 16.7 per cent increase. So the lowering down of beef export through ban has potential to pull down India’s annual GDP growth rate by 2 per cent.
As such there is a huge amount of contribution of beef and related industries in Indian economy which hardy any other sector possesses, and as a fact which no other industry can replace. Indian leadership across party lines is well aware of these realities and hardly anyone can think of such a ban. Political parties might have promised ban on beef during election campaigning in many Indian states but in reality such promises cannot be fructified.
—The author is a social and political activist.