15th August 2010
Baba Ramdev’s irrational demand to prohibit cow slaughter
Here's a conversation with Harsh Vora which is worth posting as a separate blog post, given it is a separate topic and raises fundamental issues in relation to liberty in India, and puts to question the capacity or knowledge of Baba Ramdev to elevate India to a major superpower. He does need to learn some basic economics. Yoga is not good enough to run a modern nation successfully.
Hmm, what do you think about banning cow-slaughter in India? Swami Ramdev has been consistently rallying against cow-slaughter in India. He explains it well, "These politicians have no limit of wickedness. They ban the slaughter of tigers (which are carnivore), and allow free killing of cow (which are herbivore, and which have been considered as mother since ages). No animal should be allowed to be killed in Bharat Varsha, for all of them have the right to live."
He emphasizes the importance of cow not merely on the religious basis, but on moral and well as scientific grounds. Moral ground: They provide us milk. Until we are a certain age old, our biological mother breast-feeds us. And after that age, our cow feeds us with milk. So, they are are second-mother, and deserve to be respected. Scientific ground: Cow manure has been used as a beneficial fertilizer in farms. Cow urine helps us cure many diseases of the body. For example, the pH value of cow urine is 8-10 so it is a sure shot medicine for indigestion. Cow urine is anti-neoplastic which helps to cure cancer. These are just a few of the many benefits. Thus, cow should be given better if not less importance.
This, I strongly believe, is a legitimate reason raised by Swamiji. I fear we might not be on the same page, so far as this matter is concerned. Note that this has to do least with "organized religion," for conscience surely dictates that ALL beings have the right to live.
My view is very simple. The cow is food in all parts of the world (except for a few Hindus and Jains in India), and Hindus ate the cow for thousands of years till the influence of the Jains made them change their mind.
Regardless of that, I don't expect the state to dictate what food a person may or may not eat. I don't expect it to create a law that you SHOULD eat beef, for instance.
The ONLY reason the state can impose its views on such matters is if you harm others in this process, or if doing so will harm the environment.
The cow is not a scarce animal. Plenty of cows exist and plenty more can be produced as needed. The tiger is a genuine scarce animal and being at the top of the ecological food chain of the jungle, the dying out of tigers can severely damage the natural environment. For instance if tigers die then all forests will be ravaged and destroyed by plant eating animals. Hence for tigers a different policy applies.
But the policy on tigers (see my article on the environment) does not ask that you don't kill tigers. It asks for tigers (indeed jungles) to be privatised and reared just like any other animal. Wherever wildlife has been privatised (Coase theorem will show you how it works), it has flourished.
There are innumerable instances of the truth of this theorem. There is, for instance, no threat of extinction of crocodiles in Australia since crocodile farms are licensed to grow them and sell their meat and skin. It is a highly profitable business. Eg. see this.
I respect yours or Baba Ramdev's right NOT to eat beef IF you so feel (on any ground, call it moral if you wish), but I REFUSE to have you impose your will through the state on this matter. That involves the TOTAL DESTRUCTION of freedom.
You will first have to prove to me that eating beef is harmful. The entire world except a few Hindus in India eats beef, and they haven't died. Note that Indians ate beef for thousands of years till the Jain influence grew strong. They didn't die. And I know of MANY MANY Indians who eat beef outside India. They aren't dying. So what's the problem? Food is supposed to nourish. What you or I or anyone else puts into our own mouths is none of the business of others.
If eating beef is not lethal and it doesn't kill others, then there is no cause to interfere in the freedoms of others to eat beef. I think Baba Ramdev is trying to impose HIS version of morality on the rest of the world. That amounts to dictatorship. Let him learn to respect others.
He is welcome not to kill cows for food. But let him please learn the basics of freedom.
1) That Indians ate beef in the past is well documented, e.g. by Gandhi, Nehru, and also in a detailed book: Jha's Myth of the Holy Cow.
2) I believe animals must be treated respectfully and have clarified in detail in Chapter 4 of DOF. That does not mean that we elevate them to a pedestal equal to us.
3) It is a huge disincentive for farmers to raising cows in India (and hence most are KILLED UPON BIRTH) because they can't sell them freely in the market, except for milk, which they hardly produce any. What the Baba Ramdev policy will do is to ensure that MORE COWS ARE KILLED AT BIRTH. Is that what he wants? And why does he want to harm the Indian farmer who may well earn a decent livelihood by selling cows for meat?
4) Do you want to see how a cow should be treated and respected? Then visit Australian farms. You'll find cows allowed to roam freely and widely over a vast expanse of grass; their needs catered to carefully; their health monitored by veterinarians (who are paid MORE than doctors). And when they are taken to abbatoirs, the regulations require a very specific and humane way of killing them for meat. Compare with the way cows are often treated in India – with the GREATEST DISRESPECT, driven from one garbage heap to another, forced to live a sad and tragic life before finally being sold in underhand ways to people who will kill them without the slightest mercy and without access to modern machines. Want to show respect for something? Then privatise it. The owner will show it respect if it becomes an economic good.
I wasn't aware that this is a hot topic in India. E.g. http://www.mynews.in/Blog/Anti_Cow_Slaughter_Legislation_B942.htmlC
Facebook discussion: https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2212358147&topic=12702