Thursday, April 9, 2015

Balls to beef.

I am very privileged. Being in Bandra, I live within a stone’s throw of not one but two Gods. The first God is of course His Holiness Sri Sri Sachin Tendulkar the God of Cricket. Cricket is after all our religion. Cricket and Beef being the subject of this post, I thought it is necessary to name check Sachin. I will come to Sachin and eating beef later. Be patient.

This is Beef.

The second God who lives in Bandra is His Supreme Holiness Mr Perfection Aamir Khan; the God of All Things Wise. Now you may ask why I am name checking him? Well he is looking more than beefy is he not?

You must be by now aware of the so called `beef ban’ by the Maharashtra Government. This has deeply upset me as I am sure it would every right thinking person. I shall attempt to set out in this post, in as simple a way as I can, what is beef, how this law has come about, how it is utterly silly and will render hundreds of people jobless, and, lastly, how utterly hypocritical and foolish we are as a nation and people.

What is beef?

I am not qualified to get very technical. Briefly, cows, ox, buffalo and the yak are all classified as `bovines’. They have horns, 4 stomachs [i.e. they are ruminants] and cloven hoofs [i.e. hoofs split into two toes].

Bovines are often domesticated. Bovines are generally used for giving us milk, used as draught animals to pull ploughs and carts, used for meat and used for breeding. This is from where we get beef.

As far as domesticated bovines are concerned - cows and buffalo primarily in India - these can also be further broken down into sub categories:

A cow is a female and used for dairy.

A heifer is a female used primarily for breeding

A bull is a male and is used either for meat, or draught or breeding.

A steer is a castrated bull bred for meat.

A vealer is a young animal that is used as meat – veal.

This is Beef too. A 28 day dry aged USDA Prime Rib Eye

The law

In 1975 the Maharashtra Government, passed a law stating that a "cow" which included a heifer or male or female calf of a cow could not be slaughtered. This was very specific. It covered only a limited range of animals. Thus cow slaughter was banned in Maharashtra 40 years ago.

The law further stated that any bulls, bullocks, female buffaloes and buffalo calves could be slaughtered if a certificate was obtained. The certificate was granted in the following cases:

If the animal, whether male or female, (a) is or is likely to become uneconomical for the purpose of draught or any kind of agricultural operations; (b) the animal, if male, is or is likely to become uneconomical for the purpose of breeding; (c) the animal, if female, is or is likely to become uneconomical for the purpose of giving milk or bearing offspring.

Thus when read together, a cow could NOT be slaughtered while other bovines such as buffalo could be, if they were certified. This is how we got our hamburgers and lasagne and steaks and the famous Muslim Saat Handi and Barah Handi and the scores of Galouti Kebabs and Tunde Miya ke Kebabs.

The so called `beef ban’ has come about by a simple amendment to the definition of `cow’ in the 1975 legislation. Today the definition has been expanded by including bulls, bullocks, female buffaloes and buffalo calves and excluding only water buffalo. So now nothing except a water buffalo can be slaughtered regardless of whether it is certified or not.

The Maharashtra Government has also mandated that if you possess any beef obtained from outside Maharashtra you will be fined and jailed.

Thus beef from all bovines except the water buffalo is now prohibited. This means the tins of Corned Beef, Beef Stock cubes, Demi Glace Powder are all illegal to buy, possess or consume. If you have any at home in your cupboard watch it – Inspector Ghorpade will seize it and arrest you. An entire cuisine is suddenly made illegal. Remember the delicious Kerala Beef Fry - Naadan Beef Olathiyathu / Ulathiyathu - Erachi Olathiyathu - remember any French Jus or Sauce made with Veal Bones well they are now gone. Anyway.

The politics

Cow slaughter has been banned for the past 40 years. I cannot understand why the BJP and gang are now grandstanding saying they have banned cow slaughter. Our `Middia’ are being equally inaccurate referring to this ban as prevention of cow slaughter. Unfortunately the mango people do not realise this difference and believe that the BJP has banned cow slaughter now. This is so wrong.

The Congress role is even more ridiculous, dubious and totally of double standards. The Congress routinely say that the BJP is communal [which I honestly believe they are] and as a part of majoritarianism, are playing religious vote bank politics. This, the Congress says is manifested in the deeply communal legislation of banning cow slaughter!  Fine, assuming Congress is correct in alleging this I have two questions. First, why is the Congress not using its high powered lawyers – Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram and others – to file an appropriate Writ in the Bombay High Court and challenge this ban? Besides appearing in the `Middia’ what has the pathetic and perpetually whining Congress done? Nothing.

My second question is, have you seen the date of the parent legislation from where this beef ban started? The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976. Yes 1976. The BJP did not exist in 1976. The Chief Minister in Maharashtra in 1976 was Shankarrao Chavan a Congress stalwart. Does this surprise you?

Beef exports from India are huge, India is easily in the top 10 nations in the World that exports beef. Yes in the top ten! For whatever reason our successive Governments, yes, sanctimonious Congress included, believe it is correct to slaughter animals for export while it is wrong for our own countrymen to eat exactly the same meat. It is not that cows are slaughtered for export. Cow slaughter is almost universally banned in India. This makes absolutely no sense to me. The exported meat was that of buffalo, the certified animals, never cow.

The economics and the farmer

You could have 3 types of farmers. A dairy farmer who has animals for milk. A farmer may also have animals that he uses for meat i.e. sale to slaughterhouses. Many farmers also use animals as draught to plough their land or pull carts i.e. as beasts of burden. Under the unamended law a dairy farmer could sell his uneconomical animals after they have stopped providing milk to a slaughter house and made some money which he could use to buy a new dairy cow. Those who use animals as draught sold the animals when the animal was too old to work. This was a continuous cycle. Today the farmer cannot sell the animal to a slaughterhouse because slaughter of `beef’ is banned. Is this not `anti-farmer’? Of course it is but that is probably not of any relevance to our lawmakers.

Looking at it slightly differently, a dairy farmer requires female animals to provide the milk. Cows give milk only after they give birth. Therefore to make/keep them pregnant the farmer has very few males on hand whose primary job is to fertilise the cows. Now the farmer cannot possibly ensure that his pregnant cow will give birth to a female calf. The female calf is of use to the farmer because the female calf will soon give milk. What happens if the cow gives birth to a male? This is of no use to the dairy farmer. So he would either sell the animal to a meat farmer, or sell the calf as vealer. Now with slaughter banned what does a dairy farmer do? He has to carry the animal that is of no use to him and bear all the costs attendant to the animal, or, try and sell it to someone as a draught animal. Is this not `anti-farmer’?

On a separate note, Switzerland produces a lot of milk which is used in cheese and chocolate. Ever wondered why there is so much veal in Switzerland? The answer is simple. What does a dairy farmer do with a male calf? Now do you get what I am trying to say!

I am sure you must have owned or still own Kolhapuri Chappals, a pair of leather shoes, your wife has a beautiful calf leather purse. What about the soft beautiful seats you have made in calf leather in your Mercedes, BMW Rolls Royce and so on. So many of us slip on these expensive leathers on our more humble Hondas and Marutis too. Leather. Where does this come from? The skin or hide of bovines. Now with no slaughter what happens to this trade? Is this not `anti-leather industry/tanner’? Is not Kolhapur a part of Maharashtra? So by banning slaughter what have you done to the chappal maker? Only the hide of a bovine that dies of natural causes may be used by the tanning industry. You may have to queue up for your next pair of kolhapuris!!

Entire professions, artisans and crafts men will be deeply and badly affected by this policy, probably to the point of ruin. These artisans and craftsmen have practiced their trade for generations. They do not know anything else. Now with the source of livelihood gone or at least severely curtailed what happens to them? I really shudder to think. Has our venerable BJP bothered to think?

The idiocy and the hypocrisy

What is a cricket ball covered with? Leather, cow leather, beef leather to mix up descriptions as we are wont to do. What do our cricketers do, the Hindus, the vegetarians and the religious? They hold the cricket ball, polish it, rub their sweat on it, lick their fingers and apply their saliva on the ball. I mean hello??? We take great pride in being Hindoo, vegetarian, Jain, Sikh and God knows what else and you as a cricketer are busy licking beef!!! Sachin is a God. He is a God who respects God. He is forever looking up thanking God for his runs, his money and his fortune. He must be a good Hindu and yet he is more than willing to fondle and lick beef. Sacrilege I say. Should the BCCI not use balls made of say plastic or some other material? Is cricket not anti-Hindu?

Football, volleyball and hockey all use hide covered balls which we are willing to touch. But a good steak. Naaah, never, not over my dead body, 

I am a Hindu. 


  1. Excellent piece Sunil. Very well written. Sheila Rao

    1. Thank you Sheila. You are lucky Bangalore still has beef.

  2. India is the second largest exporter of beef, after Brazil.

    1. Armin, some figures show India at 2, some slightly lower. Hence I wrote in the top 10.

  3. Subhasis, first, do you recall the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857? Do you know why that happened?

    Secondly pork products are sold and openly sold in Malaysia. I have had many a sumptuous meal at Chinese Restaurants in KL, with lots of pork. It is correct to say that Muslim restaurants will not serve pork in Malaysia. But ham is available and on breakfast tables in most decent hotels.

    Thirdly, pork products are sold in Dubai. The only caveat is that entry to the section in the supermarket selling pork products is restricted. Please go to the Galeries Lafayette in the Dubai Mall the next time you are there and get yourself some Bayonne Ham.

    Please get your facts correct.

  4. Superb article - kudos to you sir